If you’ve never succumbed to the earthy yet cerebral music of The Doors, you’re not likely to plunk down big bucks for a multi-CD box set, even if you find it half-price off or more at your local mega retailer. but if you know someone who got it as a Christmas present, take a listen to any one of the six CDs and see if the performance doesn’t radically alter your perception and pre-conception of Jim Morrison and company.
Pending the court appearance for the Miami obscenity charge of 1969, The Doors had been shocked back to their roots at this point of their career in January 1970. As a consequence, the blues was the foundation of the two-sets a night run in The Big Apple: "Who Do You Love" finds the band wholly abandoned through multiple renditions of the standard, while "Crawling King Snake" allowed Morrison to simultaneously make fun of his persona and indulge in the genre archetypes going back further than even John Lee Hooker (which the band also puts in play on their original "Roadhouse Blues")..
Occasionally detached to a fault, and understandably so, on repeated offerings of "Light My Fire," the Doors’ frontman was in generally fine, self-effacing form for these shows at the Felt Forum, particularly on the magnum opus "When the Music’s Over"" and "Moonlight Drive." Yet Jim Morrison has no greater prominence throughout these two nights of recordings than the trio of musicians with him who reaffirm the singularity of their sound collectively and individually. Robbie Krieger’s flamenco guitar training allows him the fluidity of his ride-out to "Five to One" and his fills during "Break on Through" are like lightning quick. John Densmore was an explosive drummer and along with keyboardist Ray Manzarek–whose instrument(s) often create an icy otherworldly majesty– functioned as a propulsive rhythm section so daunting you don’t miss a bass guitarist in the lineup.
Material spanning The Doors’ repertoire populates these shows and often takes on markedly different meaning hearing it four decades later. For instance, is "Ship of Fools," to be included in the Morrison Hotel album set for release the month following these concerts, a paean to environmentalism? In its sturdy box and hard-bound books for the discs as well as the booklet long on vivid action photos and short on revisionist essays, The Doors’ Live in New York could be a gift in more ways than one.