The Doors

Live in New York

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This six-disc compendium contains the complete run -- four sets over two nights -- by the Doors' at the Felt Forum in New York City January 17 and 18, 1970. Although previously unavailable in its entirety, music from these programs has shown up prominently throughout several live packages -- namely Absolutely Live (1970), and Alive She Cried (1983). Additionally, over an hour was excerpted to create the "Live in New York" CD within The Doors Box Set (1997). Most any unissued live material from the original quartet of John Densmore (drums), Robbie Krieger (guitar), Ray Manzarek (keyboards/vocals) and Jim Morrison (vocals/percussion) could be considered cause for celebration. However, the experience of hearing the band's ebb and flow as they organically develop the performance in real-time -- as opposed to hearing a package of material that has been cherry-picked after the fact -- is one of several advantages that the Live in New York (2009) anthology has over its predecessors. Another is the stunning fidelity throughout, thanks to the work of Doors' original producer/engineer Bruce Botnick and the exhaustive processes of restoring the eight-track, open-reel master tapes. With so much territory to cover -- over seven hours in all -- there are, inevitably, a few audio dropouts. In those rare instances, very good quality substitutions from other sources (of the exact same material) almost seamlessly fill in any moments that might be missing due to reel changes and the like. Always a question mark in terms of performance quality, Morrison is on pretty good behavior and in exceptional voice. Immediate evidence can be found on the soulful reading of "Blue Sunday" from the first show. However, by the final outing, his husky and raspy vocals make it clear that he is rapidly losing his range. Morrison has also cleaned up his stage prattle in the wake of the infamous occurrence where it was alleged that on March 1, 1969 in Miami, FL Morrison exposed himself during the show. A warrant was subsequently issued for his arrest on one felony count of lewd and lascivious behavior and three misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure, open profanity, and drunkenness. Certainly far from scared straight, he seems to have gotten the message, and was actually awaiting trial at the time of these recordings. He even jokingly refers to it during the spoken "Only When the Moon Comes Out" interlude on the 18th. On paper, there is little variance between each of the four set lists. However, the energy and vibe vacillate significantly from version to version and show to show. The core inclusions of "Roadhouse Blues," "Ship of Fools," "Alabama Song," "Light My Fire," and a combo pairing "Back Door Man" with "Five to One" were played every time. While "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)," "Break on Through (To the Other Side)," and "Who Do You Love" were done a bit less frequently. On the other hand, there are rarities aplenty as "Blue Sunday," "Love Hides," "Little Red Rooster," "Crawling King Snake," a half-hearted "Wild Child," "The End," "Celebration of the Lizard," "Close to You" (sung by Manzarek) -- plus the four-song encore on the 18th that includes "Rock Me Baby," "Going to N.Y. Blues," "Maggie M'Gill," and "Gloria" were only unleashed once. During that same finale, former Lovin' Spoonful co-founder John Sebastian (harmonica) is invited on-stage. According to Bruce Botnick's "technical note" found in the accompanying liner notes booklet: "When John came onstage to join The Doors for the Sunday second show encore, he was handed a microphone that was only going through The Doors' sound system, and not plugged into the Fedco Audio Labs mobile truck. As a consequence, John's harmonica didn't get recorded. So, earlier in 2009, we arranged for John to join Ray Manzarek and myself at Skywalker Sound in San Rafael. John replayed his parts as closely as possible against the PA leakage from the audience tracks on the original recorded 8-track masters." Purists will be able to use a code on the Rhino Web site (www.rhino.com) to download the untampered versions.

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