The Doors

Live in Boston 1970

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Several 1970 Doors concerts were officially recorded for use on the Absolutely Live album, including both of the shows they gave in Boston on April 10 of that year. This three-CD set has the early and late sets from Boston in their entirety, adding up to about three hours of music, all but two of the tracks previously unreleased. Well, three hours of mostly music, it should be clarified; it's padded by a whole lot of Jim Morrison raps and crowd reaction, to the point where it starts to seem like there's less music than speech by the end of the second show. Basically, this is the Doors very much as they sound on Absolutely Live -- bluesy, a little loose and sloppy, yet still high-spirited if boozy. It's yet sloppier and looser than Absolutely Live, however, if for no reason other than it doesn't benefit from the editing together of several different performances into one double LP. That's part of the reason Doors fans want something like this, though -- to hear something different from what's already in the band's official catalog, not something that's more or less a duplication of a well-known live record that's been in print since 1970. On that count, Live in Boston 1970 delivers, both in the tone of the performance and the actual set list, including several songs that aren't available in many live versions on legitimate or illegitimate releases, like "The Spy," "You Make Me Real," "Been Down So Long," and "Ship of Fools" (along with a few expected classics like "Light My Fire," "Break on Through," "Five to One," "When the Music's Over," and "Back Door Man"). There are also a bunch of unexpected covers that, as enticing as they look on paper, are rather fragmentary and half-developed (and sometimes thrown in the middle of another tune), like "Mystery Train," "Fever," "Rock Me," "Crossroads," "Summertime," and "St. James Infirmary Blues." Versions of all those songs have shown up on other live Doors releases (though not always in as good sound quality as they do here), and while they add to the value of this release by virtue of their falling outside the band's usual repertoire, they also demonstrate that the Doors weren't such a great straight blues-rock band -- something that it seems like the group are changing into at times when listening to this set.

Another big part of this material's attraction (and, to some less indulgent listeners, flaws) might be the extended between-song raps, which show Morrison in even more dissolute mindset than was his frequent wont. There's banter about voting, astrology, the already-issued line "Adolf Hitler is still alive...I slept with her last night," and the taunt, "would anybody like to see my genitals?" (The crowd roars in affirmation, though Jim declines, "Forget it!") Some of that diffident toying with the audience and its worship of rock stars spills over to the performances too, with Morrison at times play-acting his way through the familiar songs the audience wants to hear most. That's especially true of the second version of "Light My Fire," where the band weaves in and out of "Fever," "Summertime," and "St. James Infirmary Blues," with Morrison wordlessly slurring rather than singing one of the verses. The band as a whole joins in the spirit on "Been Down So Long," with Ray Manzarek switching from organ to guitar, and Robbie Krieger from guitar to bass, resulting in a novel but notably out-of-tune rendition. These kind of qualities might make Live in Boston 1970 too much of a stretch for typical Doors fans, as it's not the band at their best, and certainly not the band at their tightest and most focused. For those many serious Doors fans looking for something different from what they have in their collection (official or bootleg), however, Live in Boston 1970 delivers a lot of it, in official-release-standard-sound that's far superior to what's offered on the vast majority of bootlegs.

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