The Doors are primarily an instrumental trio with a lead singer, but Jim Morrison is not so much a singer per se, as he is a shouter, as horn section, sometimes a lead instrument. He doesn't sing in the dictionary sense of the word; rather, he punctuates with his voice. Tying all of the elements together—the organ, the drums, the vocals— is the fluid thread or Robby Krieger's guitar, slow, spare, thoughtful, unifying. Krieger's thought processes for guitar, interestingly enough, did not come from blues but from flamenco, a fact that makes his guitar playing totally individualistic in the rock field.
Jim once told a reporter: "We're the Doors because, when you go into a strange town, you check into a hotel. Then, after you've played your gig, you go back to your room, down an endless corridor lined with doors, until you get to your own. But, when you open the door, you find there are lots or people inside. And you wonder, Am I in the wrong room? Or is this some kind of a party?"
Yes, the Doors are mystical (hailing from Los Angeles, to preserve their sanity, perhaps they have to be). But they can talk common sense, too. Here is Robby: "Most groups today aren't groups. Here, we use everyone's ideas. In a true group, all of the members create the arrangements among themselves. This group is so serious. It's the most serious group that ever was, that ever will be." And Ray: "All of us have the freedom to explore and to improvise within a framework. Jim is an improviser with words. . . . We've all shattered ourselves a long time ago. That was what early rock was about: an attempt to shatter two thousand years of culture. Now, we're working on what happens after you've shattered it."
Perhaps this statement by Jim best marries the mythological and the matter-of-fact: "You could say it's an accident that I was ideally suited for the work I am doing. It's the feeling of a bow string being pulled back for twenty-two years and suddenly being let go. . . . I've always been attracted to ideas that were about revolt against authority.
When you make your peace with authority, you become an authority. I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing or established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos, especially activity which seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road toward freedom — external revolt is a way to bring about internal freedom. Rather than starting inside, I start outside — reach the mental through the physical. But the main thing is that we are the Doors. We are
from the West. The world we suggest should be or a new, wild West, a sensuous, evil world, strange and haunting. The path or the sun, you know". [extract from The Doors: The Complete Illustrated Lyrics, by Danny Sugerman. 1991. p22-23]
The Matrix Club
Only a few tables of curious spectators showed up at the club each night, so the musicians pretty much played for themselves. In between two weekend engagements at the Avalon Ballroom, a little-known rock group from Los Angeles called the Doors played Tuesday through Friday at a 100-seat Marina district club called the Matrix. Even the musicians might have forgotten all about the gig if the club manager hadn't decided to tape the shows.
The Doors were making their second trip to the thriving San Francisco ballroom scene in March 1967. It was an unseasonably chilly end of winter before the Summer of Love and just three months after the little-noted release of the band's now-historic debut album.
"We were on the lip of great success and we didn't know it," drummer John Densmore says. "Neither did the audience, which was very cool."
"Light My Fire" wouldn't break the group on radio for another three months, so the Doors were playing that weekend second-billed to Country Joe and the Fish at the Avalon, and almost no one showed up at their midweek Matrix engagement.
Matrix co-owner Peter Abrams had only recently installed a tape recorder in the sound booth, but it would be his custom over the next five years to record every show at the club. The Doors' tapes have been passed around in the underground world of bootleg recordings for years, including a set of "horrible, horrible sounding" Italian CDs that Doors producer Bruce Botnick heard.
Botnick, who has engineered and produced virtually every Doors recording in the band's history, finally dusted off the tape copies in the band's vault, cleaned them up and put together a two-CD set, "Live at the Matrix," complete with a cover by '60s San Francisco poster artist Stanley Mouse. Botnick says he thinks the Matrix tapes contain "one of their best recorded performances."
"They were young, enthusiastic, out to have fun," he says. "They experimented a lot, changed arrangements around and played things they never did before."
"We looked at it as a paid rehearsal," says guitarist Robbie Krieger. "There were five to 10 people in the club. We did it for ourselves."
The band played a lot of blues at the Matrix, including Allen Toussaint's "Get Out of My Life Woman" and Slim Harpo's "I'm a King Bee" that rarely turned up again in the repertoire. They did an instrumental version of "Summertime," a piece Botnick never heard the band play again. The group introduced new material that would eventually find its way to the second album - "People Are Strange," "Moonlight Drive" - while Morrison expanded and elaborated the ending of the already epic "The End" as recorded on the first album. The shadowy, echoey recording sounds like being in the dingy, rundown nightclub. The tiny room and handful of strangers in the crowd give off a palpable presence on the tape. All 10 people applaud madly. [extract from SFGATE-San Francisco Chronicle]
The Doors At The Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl didn't look as famous in the daylight as it did at night, but unfortunately the night light didn't save our performance. We were worried about the acoustics at the outdoor amphitheatre, where there were no wails to bounce the sound off. We had played outdoor conceits successfully before, but you couldn't hear the sound coming back to you and it could be difficult to judge how loudly to play. We didn't want to take any chances, so Vince, our dedicated and obsessed road manager, built additional amplifiers, fifty-two speakers in all, with seven thousand wans of power. For a four-piece band!
I used four mikes to amplify my drums and had eight speakers all for myself. Ray and Robby had about fifteen speakers each and Jim had a few less, but his voice was also fed through the house PA system.
We wanted to reach the back of the Bowl and we didn't want to get caught shorn As it turned out, the people who lived in the homes behind the Bowl had complained about noise the previous month or so, and the Bowl had hired a sound man to walk around the theater during performances and check volume levels on a portable meter. The sound level was not to exceed eighty decibels, or he would pull the plug. Robby was very unhappy. Typical—a guitar player. Power! 1 was actually pleased, because as a drummer I always fought to be heard. Whenever Ray and Robby turned up a knob, I had to use more muscle.
Unfortunately, eighty decibels was not enough to fill eighteen thousand seats with the punch we relied on. Thinking die Bowl would be an important gig, we also had a movie crew of old UCLA film school friends of Ray and Jim's shooting 16 mm color and sync sound. A small crew had been following us around on tour for a documentary we were making. For the Bowl we had a couple additional cameramen. (Although I wasn't into guys, I noticed how strikingly handsome one of the new crewmen was. And he had a weird name: Harrison Ford.) we got a call from Jimmy Miller, the Stones' producer, and he said that he and Mick would like to come to the Bowl. Mick Jagger! We were impressed until they drove up in front of our office to go to dinner with us. Robby said, "John, look at the car they're driving." It was a Cadillac, and not even an old one. Was Mick selling out? I excused them because it was probably a rental, but still I thought, Couldn't they have had more taste?
Our entourage went to Mu Ling's Chinese restaurant on Sunset Boulevard and unfortunately, since there were too many people in our group, we sat at two separate rabies. Mick sat at the other table. Jimmy Miller talked up a storm, but I wanted to hear the interaction between the two lead singers, and maybe put my two cents in. As we drove to the back of the Bowl, it felt like attending a huge baseball game. I felt a twinge of nervousness looking at the crowd as we walked into the dressing room. I got a piece of paper and we agreed to the first three or four songs. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Mick watching very attentively.
Jimmy Miller and Jagger snuck around to one of the reserved boxes, and we went out onstage to eighteen thousand roaring people. 1 wanted to show the Stones' lead singer how good we could be. Not tonight. Damn it! I wished we were better. Several close friends were right in the front seats and I couldn't even look at them. Jim wore a cross and smoked a lot of cigarettes, which seemed out of character for him. He wasn't born again and it was the first time I ever saw him smoke. I detected some self-conscious image-building.
The audience lit matches when we played "Light My Fire," a trend that continues at rock concerts today, but as beautiful as it looked from the Bowl stage, there was little spark coming from the musk. It wasn't a bad show; it was just off.
I couldn't put my finger on what went wrong. The lights were very bright for the film crew, and -I could tell they were affecting Jim's performance. The mood of the show wasn't there. We didn't have enough power and Jim's pauses were too long on some songs. Jim's gold crucifix didn't even help. I had noticed Roger Daltrey of the Who sporting a cross on TV, so I asked Jim why he had followed suit.
"I like the symbol visually, plus it will confuse people."
"What went wrong?" I asked Robby, walking back under the shell to the dressing rooms.
"Jim took acid right before going on."
"GOD DAMN IT!" I huried ray drumsticks to the floor. "It's one thing to take it on your own time, but the Hollywood Bowl? That's probably why he took it. Damn."
Later Jagger was very kind when Melodymaker, the English music magazine, asked him how he liked the Doors. He said, "They were nice chaps, but they played a bit too long," [extract from Riders On The Storm by John Densmore, 1991. p169-171)
.This post is the first of four bootleg releases by Banana entitled The Lizard King, which I will be posting each day, so stay tuned. Ripped from CD to MP3 (320kps), these bootleg recordings are excellent quality and cover some of the best concerts played by the Doors over a three year period.
Full album artwork (the usual fireman red covers) are included along with covers for alternative bootleg releases. Known as the 'Lizard King' because of the leather pants that he wore during his concert performances, this MEGA series of concert material highlights why Jim Morrison and the Doors were one of the biggest acts of the late 60's and 70's.
01. Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) 1:35 (Live Hollywood Bowl, LA 5 Jul 1968)
02. Back Door Man 2:10 (Live Hollywood Bowl, LA 5 Jul 1968)
03. Five To One 3:09 (Live Hollywood Bowl, LA 5 Jul 1968)
04. I Can't See Your Face In My Mind 3:15 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
06. Money (That's What I Want) 2:38 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
07. Who Do You Love 4:39 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
08. Summer's Almost Gone 3:50 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
09. I'm A King Bee 3:53 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
10. Gloria 5:46 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
11. Summertime 8:48 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
12. Close To You 3:05 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
13. Rock Me Baby 8:29 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
14. The Hill Dwellers 2:44 (Live Konserthuset, Stockholm, 20 Sep 1968)
15. Light My Fire 8:52 (Live Matrix Club, San Francisco, 10 Mar 1967)
The Doors Vol.1 Link (149Mb)