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The Doors: Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm September 20, 1968

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The Doors: Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm September 20, 1968
An excellent companion piece to the comparably memorable Live in Bakersfield August 21, 1970 (Rhino, 2023) and Live At The Matrix 1967: The Original Masters (Rhino, 2023), Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm September 20, 1968 features a live radio broadcast from September 20, 1968. Capturing The Doors at one of their performing peaks, it is apposite to another stop on the same European tour with Jefferson Airplane where lead vocalist Jim Morrison missed a show.

As was usually the case during the era, two performances in a single evening virtually guaranteed the first would be the shorter of the pair. Nevertheless, the forty- seven minutes early in the evening in Stockholm fairly accurately capture the Doors at this juncture of their career (before the influence of celebrity and personal issues wreaked havoc with Morrison).

To that end, the selections which bookend these eight tracks reflect the times and the iconic band's (d)evolution. The opener "Five to One" sound less like a call to arms than a lampoon of the simplistic thinking of many 'revolutionaries' of the period, while "The Unknown Soldier" remains a fairly discerning commentary on late Sixties culture; even without visuals the suspense of the performance is palpable.

Proceeding with virtually no interruption, the decidedly mellow "Love Street" presents Jim Morrison as focused as the instrumentalists behind him. Meanwhile, the vocals betray next to no sonic imperfections the likes of which were so prominent on previously-released bootlegs.

The audio mixing, editing and mastering by long-time Doors engineer Bruce Botnick do justice to the practiced empathy of guitarist Robbie Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore, particularly on the set's extended inclusion, "When The Music's Over." Their self-restraint is in keeping with the lead singer's and equally admirable.

While there is next to no lengthy extemporization here—variations on keyboard and guitar solos are minimal except on a disciplined rendition of "Light My Fire"—the foursome conjure up much of the same ominous air as the studio version on Strange Days (Elektra, 1967). The spooky atmosphere is actually enhanced by dropouts in the recording of Morrison's singing on the latter.

Rationalization as it may sound to term it ghostly, there is no denying its presumably faultless, in-person resonance with the enthusiastic audience at the Swedish venue. Apart from a quick and dirty exchange between Morrison and an attendee, at this point it was still accurate to say the more spontaneity, the better at a Doors concert; even if in-the-moment intervals were somewhat limited, the overall impact belied the frequency and duration of same, at least in such a condensed time frame.

The dissonant opening to the second set is just such an instance. It makes a decidedly dramatic opening to a dozen selections which span the Doors' recorded output to that point. And, as a matter of fact, the sequence extends beyond that range by including "Wild Child," which would not appear in studio form until the following year on The Soft Parade (Elektra, 1969).

Preceding what would be a highlight of that effort are two culls from the band's eponymous debut, the cover of blues icon Willie Dixon's "Back Door Man" plus "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)." Slithering guitar lines from Krieger highlight the latter...or they would if Morrison hadn't already grabbed the attention by interpolation into the number lyrics from "Mack The Knife" composed by the same duo, Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.

Immediately after, the straightforward reading of "You're Lost Little Girl" is all the more haunting for the singer's self-restraint, a point highlighted via the sing-song quality of Manzarek's modified harpsichord solo. Densmore's drumming serves a similar purpose in emphasizing the underlying insistence of a salty "Love Me Two Times."

Such inclusions as that pair from the group's sophomore LP highlight the juxtaposition of the surrounding material as "The End" follows shortly after "Money (That's What I Want)." And it is also true how rarities like the latter, as well as "Wake Up," one excerpt of three from the magnum opus "Celebration of the Lizard," suggest this recording could well have been released as a standalone under different circumstances than as a 'Record Store Day' item.

The striking red and black design of the two-CD package almost but not quite camouflages how Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm might have benefitted more from historical notation than from the short essay by the Doors archivist Daniel Dutkowski. But if it is fair to say more than enough has been written about this quartet over the years, it's also correct to state that September 20, 1968 will become one of the more enduring entries into the Doors' body of work. As with its corollaries, the immediacy of the performances belies the date.

Track Listing

Introduction; Five To One; Love Street; Love Me Two Times; When The Music’s Over; A Little Game; The Hill Dwellers; Light My Fire' The Unknown Soldier.” CD 2: Five To One; Mack The Knife; Alabama Song (Whisky Bar); Back Door Man; You’re Lost Little Girl; Love Me Two Times; When The Music’s Over; Wild Child Money (That’s What I Want; Wake Up!; Light My Fire; The End.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Ray Manzarek: vocals.

Album information

Title: Live at Konserthuset, Stockholm September 20, 1968 | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Rhino


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