As the title suggests, this set contains the second of two complete shows from the Doors at the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood, July 21, 1969. Both were professionally documented, anticipating enough material for a stopgap concert album as the band simultaneously composed and arranged new sides for their subsequent Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman studio releases. With over three decades under the bridge and the blessings of the surviving bandmembers, Live at the Aquarius Theater: The Second Performance provides a real-time recreation of the entire two-and-a-quarter-hour performance from the sonically superior multi-track tapes. Initially the interaction between the band and audience borders on ennui, while a seemingly unfazed John Densmore (drums), Robby Krieger (guitar), Ray Manzarek (keyboards/bass pedals/vocals), and Jim Morrison (vocals) musically ascend to their outlandish pre-Miami selves. Stylistically, however, their music is pointing away from the LSD-tinged antics that informed much of their initial sound and vision. In its stead is an influx of blues- and R&B-influenced covers such as the extended workout of Van Morrison's "Gloria," Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster," "Rock Me Baby," and "Close to You." This should in no way insinuate that the band had altogether forsaken their psychedelic roots, as the renderings of "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" as well as a profound and intense "Celebration of the Lizard" are perfect vehicles for the sonic mind games that became synonymous with the Doors. Likewise, the band unveils several unique renderings to sides from the forthcoming Morrison Hotel. "You Make Me Real" sticks fairly close its studio counterpart, unlike the incendiary instrumental reading of "Peace Frog," which is linked to a crystalline "Blue Sunday." This is the Doors performing at the peak of their ability and is the way they deserve to be remembered. In an ultimately successful attempt to aurally re-create the relaxed and informal pacing of the show, all between-song chatter as well as some lengthy banter between the audience and band occurs organically. Keen-eared enthusiasts will recognize the inimitable and likewise sonorous voice of lighting director Chip Monk during the spoken-word "A Request of the Management." Monk is best placed via his intermittent stage announcements at Woodstock. In addition to the two discs, Live at the Aquarius Theater: The Second Performance includes a 16-page foldout booklet with notes from all three surviving bandmembers. As titles on the Doors-owned Bright Midnight record label are not available via most traditional CD outlets, enthusiasts are encouraged to direct their attentions to the additional information available at the band's website.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2