The Doors: Live in Bakersfield, August 21, 1970 (Rhino) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, February 29th, 2024  

The Doors

Live in Bakersfield, August 21, 1970

Rhino

Dec 08, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


If the last Doors live release, Live at the Matrix 1967, represented the band at its nascent best, primed for glorious ascent, Live in Bakersfield from just three-and-a-half years later documents in some ways an entirely different band. Recorded at a break in Jim Morrison’s Florida trial arising from accusations that the singer exposed himself at a concert in Miami, Live in Bakersfield was released for the first time on double vinyl for Record Store Day’s 2023 Black Friday event.

In many ways, the show, which has been widely bootlegged in the past but never officially released and never in this much of its entirety (the last portion of the show will never see the light of day, as the reel-to-reel tape used to record it ran out after 90 minutes), is not what you typically think of when you think of The Doors. There are three medleys, many cover tunes, the band segueing in and out of extended songs like some sort of primordial Grateful Dead. Only a few tracks, in fact, truly resemble what one might commonly think of as The Doors, and one of them, the opener “Roadhouse Blues,” features Morrison quasi-scatting.

The first of three extended medleys for the evening, “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)/Back Door Man/Five To One” finds the band mostly hanging back while Morrison lyrically grooves, some of which is improvised and includes his ”Old Stone Road” poem. Immediately following, a winding “Universal Mind” segues into the organ-led jazz of “Afro Blue” and then back into “Universal Mind,” an astonishing jammy epic that seems unimaginable from the viewpoint of what one heard at the Matrix in ’67.

“Love Me Two Times” segues somewhat oddly into the blues staple “Baby, Please Don’t Go” and then into “St. James Infirmary” before returning to The Doors classic. It’s an epic showcase of experimentation that is second to none in The Doors’ catalog.

Another medley, this time “Mystery Train/Away In India/Crossroads” starts as instrumentally hypnotizing, punctuated by Morrison’s train whistle yelps, before the band moves into the songs proper, yet still sidewinding in and out of the tunes with Morrison’s improvisational raps and vocal intonations punctuating what is at once loose but also finding the band incredibly in-tune with one another and the experimental stew they are creating.

A 15-minute “The End,” dedicated by Morrison, most hilariously to “a couple newlyweds in the audience,” spends much of its time tame before building to a furious self-destructive climax and screaming feedback and noise.

Ultimately, Live in Bakersfield is as unique of a Doors release as you’ll find, and a wonderful window into a different side of the band than one typically knows. And they don’t even play “Break On Through (To the Other Side).” (www.thedoors.com) (www.rhino.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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