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The Doors - Live in Vancouver 1970 (Double CD)

Doors Music Company / Bright Midnight Records / Rhino Entertainment Company

13 Songs plus extras; 114:24 Minutes; Meritable

Styles: Rock, Blues-Rock, Psychedelia

This Baby Boomer relates how, as a teenager, I was listening to the Blues before I knew it was “The Blues.” I usually credit the British invasion bands for bringing Blues back across the ocean to this insulated white boy in Southern Illinois. But, as far as I knew, they were all playing “new” Rock-n-Roll songs. By reading the label notes of song writing credits, I discovered that many of my favorite “new songs” were actually covers of old Blues songs done originally by African-American artists! Writing this review has reminded me that The Doors, an American band, were also a part of that exposure.

The cool kids had the single 45 rpm of “Light My Fire,” but the hep cats had the January 1967 “Light My Fire” vinyl album with the seven minute version. More importantly, that first album contained Willie Dixon’s and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Back Door Man.” Later albums contained “Crawling King Snake” and Bluesy numbers like “Been Down So Long” and “Roadhouse Blues.”

Keyboardist Ray Manzarek and vocalist Jim Morrison were proud Blues fans, Mazarek having been raised on Chicago’s South Side, the home of Muddy Waters by the 1950s. It was a proud moment for The Doors when, on June 6, 1970, legendary Blues great Albert King opened a show for them in Vancouver, Canada. They even convinced King to join them for four Blues songs. Their entire concert, including stage noise during between songs tunings, is presented in this double CD package.

Unfortunately, the results are mixed. While the sonic quality is better than a bootleg version one might have, it still leaves much to be desired. While the instruments’ sounds faired well, the vocals did not come out as good, and Morrison’s loudest primal screams clipped and distorted. Of the four songs featuring Albert King, only one really found the musicians meshing (“Who Do You Love”), and we get no vocals at all from Albert. Also, Albert is incorrectly credited with playing slide guitar (the slide is Robby Krieger’s).

The killer, 7:30 minute version of Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” starts with what sounds like tap dancing on John Densmore’s drums. Krieger adds rhythm on dampened strings, then Ray comes in on organ pulsing the Bo Diddley beat. By four minutes in, King unleashes some of his classic single note string work while Krieger slides and slithers behind him. I found it the best track on the CD. Respectfully, Morrison implores at the end, “Let’s have a hand for Albert King,” and then adds, “Man, that was fun!”

King also jams with The Doors on “Little Red Rooster,” “Money,” and “Rock Me,” but, apart from the historical significance, they suffer from too much Morrison, both King’s and Krieger’s guitars coming through the same channel, and incohesion from no prior rehearsing.

Disc Two contains two songs: a seventeen-minute version of “Light My Fire” and an eighteen-minute “The End.” The CD’s second best track is “Light My Fire” in all its foot tapping, head bobbing, tripping glory. Deftly giving the audiences then and now what they want, Manzarek just kills on the keys, and as the tempo drops, Krieger delivers his best solo, eventually playfully adding a passage from “My Favorite Things.” With the band vamping the “Light My Fire” rhythms, Morrison also drifts by singing the lyrics to “Fever,” “Summertime,” and “St. James Infirmary.” Finally, it fulfills with the “Light My Fire” lyrics.

This two-disc set is great for Morrison worshippers and the most fanatical of The Doors fans. Of the twenty-two tracks, ten are crowd noise, tuning sounds, and Morrison talking. Of value, there are also the interesting and historic jams with Albert King. Forty-one years later, these American originals are still stirring things up..

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE

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