The Doors: Live at the Matrix 1967: The Original Masters (Rhino) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Doors

Live at the Matrix 1967: The Original Masters


Oct 05, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In March of 1967, The Doors was still a relatively new band. Its debut had just been released in January. “Break on Through (to the Other Side)” was making some waves on radio, but the band was still two months out from the release of “Light My Fire,” which catapulted them to success. The band was still building a following and developing its sound.

From March 7 through the 11th, this burgeoning band played five nights at The Matrix in San Francisco, a small 150-person capacity club that was very sparsely attended for The Doors’ shows. However, these shows became legendary, oft-bootlegged and even saw a 2008 release from third-generation tapes.

Finally, the legend of these performances is presented as they should be in Live at the Matrix: The Original Masters, all 37 tracks mastered from the original reels. And the historic nature of the performances combined with the exquisite sound of these five LPs (with an additional 7-inch), makes Live at the Matrix an essential document for any classic rock fan.

It’s said that these shows were attended by only a handful of patrons, but The Doors are on fire throughout. Over the five nights, the band performed most of its self-titled debut, more than half of its as-yet-recorded sophomore album, Strange Days, and even one song from the band’s third record, Waiting for the Sun, which wasn’t released until July of the following year. As if this weren’t enough, the sets were punctuated by other blues and jazz tunes, including Willie Dixon’s “Close to You,” Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life Woman,” and the previously unreleased in any form “All Blues” instrumental by Miles Davis.

The epic “When the Music’s Over,” from the first set on night one, finds Jim Morrison spitting fire and Ray Manzarek’s organ carrying the piece with jazzy licks and drones. “Light My Fire” sounds fresh and inspired here, not the overplayed staple of classic rock radio that it has since become. The band’s first performance of “People Are Strange” is here, and “Summer’s Almost Over” settles from the yelping Morrison charisma to a slow enchanting groove. Side six of the set’s LPs is the band’s raging Oedipal “The End” in two forms, one full and one partial, the latter including Morrison’s bizarre lines of “Let’s Feed Ice Cream to the Rats.”

As one might expect, several of the songs repeat over the course of the documented five-night stand (it’s not egregious by any means; the set has striking variability), but even in these cases one can hear the band play with and develop the songs across the performances.

The set’s bonus 7-inch features a single side, instrumental cover of Milt Jackson’s “Bags’ Groove” from the stand’s first night. The stellar liner notes by rock historian extraordinaire Joel Selvin states that during such instrumentals, Morrison would retire to the bar to listen from afar. What it must have been like to be one of the few in attendance. With this set, you can almost feel like you were. ( (

Author rating: 8/10

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