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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Doors

Live in Boston 1970

Review by Gary Hill

The Doors were often times a study in contradictions. So, too, is this CD set. They are high points and low points – brilliant things and useless things. All in all, though, this is a great set comprising a full day’s show in Boston in 1970. The band actually did two sets at the venue, and both are preserved here. So, let’s have a look at the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, the good. There are some killer performances here. There are moments when this band was unequalled in terms of live performance, and many of these moments are here. All the musicians put in some smoking work and it’s a great rock and roll show and a great documentation of this legendary band. The packaging is also quite nice.

Now, let’s hit the bad. The sound is often times less than what one would wish it would be. Also while I think it’s cool that all the stage banter and such was preserved in this recording, giving it separate tracks and song-titles seems a little silly. Now to work in the ugly – and I think you saw this one coming. Morrison was trashed and there are points, particularly in the first set, where it drastically affects his performance. He still managed to bring things to the level of sublime, but there are moments that are quite ugly. Also, anyone familiar with Morrison knows that a lot of this is not for the kiddies. So, then the overall is that this is a treasure and I (and I’m guessing most Doors fans) will be very happy it’s finally been released – and done so well when it was.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
This short track is nothing but crowd noise.
All Right, All Right, All Right
Here we get a brief bit of Morrison speaking the words used as the title to start off the show.
Roadhouse Moan
Another short introductory piece, this is just sort of a rap over some bluesy music that leads into “Roadhouse Blues.”
Roadhouse Blues
The first real song of the disc, this classic pounds out and Morrison screams it in. A number that should be familiar to most, they put in a strong jam of it here. This rocker has always been a favorite and it works well in this telling. The guitar solo in this rendition is particularly potent.
Ship of Fools
A bit of an odd little number, this has a psychedelia meets lounge lizard sort of texture. It does include some tasty bass and keyboard work, though. There is also a great mellower, spacey segment. A killer expansive jazzy jam later is also a nice touch. Overall this track is a fine example of how the Doors could take a deceptively simple piece of music and turn it into something sublime with their delivery.
Alabama Song (Whisky Man)
I’ve always really enjoyed the bouncy, playful, Italian café sound of this cut. The live version with its extended approach is a even cooler. The distant mix on Morrison’s vocals – perhaps he was not holding the microphone in a good place – is a bit distracting, but it is mostly in the first few lines. This is definitely another classic and at least from a musical perspective (Morrison really sounds pretty out of it here) I might like this better than the studio performance. It runs straight into “Back Door Man.”
Back Door Man
Another bluesy Doors classic, this rocks out quite well and Morrison’s vocals, while a bit distorted, are more coherent than on the previous number. The extended guitar solo on this is nothing short of stellar and overall this is one of the highlights of the set. It segues straight into “Five to One.”
Five To One
“No one here gets out alive.” Well, I guess that pretty much sums up life doesn’t it. I have to say that the killer performance on this set definitely stands above the studio version in my book. As much as I like the original performance, that says a lot. At over nine minutes in length this includes some great musical interludes and some interesting, if a bit risqué, vocal journeys from Mr. Mojo Risin. The awesome spacey jam late in the track is among the best music on the whole album.
When the Music's Over
Another classic from a band that produced a ton of them, this has always been one of my favorite Doors songs. At almost fifteen minutes in length this is one of the longest cuts on the whole 3-disc set. It is also a sheer screamer. It’s another that I think rises above the power and fury of the studio recording.
Rock Me
This is a straight ahead blues jam, but it’s also another where Morrison’s vocals are too far down in the mix. While this song is good, it’s not on the level of a lot of the other material presented here. Of course, with three CD’s of music it’s hard to maintain that level.
Mystery Train
This one rises up gradually, but turns after a time into a killer funky jam that’s a lot of fun. At times the guitar sounds here remind me of early Hawkwind. I find that the interplay later between the guitar and organ is simply classic.
Away in India
This spacey, expansive jam comes as a transitionary sort of piece and is cool, if a bit short and almost trivial in nature. I only say that it’s trivial in the fact that it really is more like an extended portion of “Mystery Train.” It includes some great guitar work and cool keyboard textures.
This comes straight out of the one-two punch that the last couple tracks represented. Starting as a continuation of the spacey jam that preceded it, it turns to more of a bluesy hard rocker as it moves forward. It drops way back in tempo later and Morrison wails in a guttural, animalistic way.
Prelude to Wake Up!
This is literally just a short call to wake up followed by keyboard noises feedback and a poetry reading.
Wake Up!
This one is made up of weird, seemingly disconnected sounds, with Morrison reciting lines over the top. While I’m sure it might have been quite cool at the time, with enough chemical personality alteration, it really doesn’t do much for me.
Light My Fire
One of the band’s most classic pieces, this is one of a couple of the hits that have always left me a bit unimpressed. Still, it has its moments and you’ll find yourself singing along. As always with this track, Ray Manzarek’s keyboards pretty much steal the show here. That said, Robbie Krieger’s guitar soloing is noteworthy as well.
Disc 2
This time around we get an actual introduction that includes a statement about this show being recorded.
Break on Through
Keyboards lead off on this one. As the fine tuning completes they jump into a scorching version of the classic cut – with an all new introduction leading the way. The guitar sound on here is simply killer. This song, with it’s improvised segments and stellar performances is one of the best tracks on the whole set. I love the cacophonous segment later, with its almost punky abandon and the jam that ensues from it is a real scorcher.
I Believe in Democracy
This is a short little monologue by Morrison.
When the Music's Over
The second set’s version of this classic is pretty much on an even keel with the first one. As always, this is one of my favorites.

Roadhouse Blues
Another song that was also on the first disc, this rendition seems a little tighter to me. It is, like the other one, a strong piece of music.
The Spy
This is another little bouncy, rather odd piece of music. It’s one of the less impressive tracks on the set.
Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)
Back to territory that was covered in the first set, this time around the issues with the vocals are gone.
Back Door Man
Here we continue on with territory that is also on that first CD. And once again we get a scorching version of a killer track.
Five to One
In some ways I’d have to say I like this track better than the first set’s version, but in other ways that one was superior. So, I guess the end result is to say that both have their merits and as far as overall rating are about the same.
Astrology Rap
This is another of Morrison’s little spoken journey’s.

Build Me A Woman
Here we get a playful, rather bouncing piece of music. This rocker is full of “R” rated lyrics, but this isn’t all that great of a track. It’s fun, but just not anything extremely special.
You Make Me Real
Here we get a high energy, but somewhat average rocker. They work a bit of “Roadhouse Blues” into the mix here and there.
Wait a Minute
This is another Morrison chat / rant, in this case telling the lighting guys how to handle the lighting.
Mystery Train
This track, another repeat from the first set, seems to come over a bit stronger this time around.
Away in India
They continue on in much the way they did in the first set, but seem to be a bit more on fire this time around.
The higher energy approach seems to carry on here, too. It makes for another superior performance.
Disc 3
Band Intros
As you might guess this is the introduction of the band members.
Adolf Hitler
Another short recitation by Morrison makes up this track.
Light My Fire
Here we get another telling of the classic Doors hit single. I’d have to say that I like this rendition better than the one from the first set. The instrumental segment seems to swirl and dance and sway. It’s a work of art.
Fever (Light My Fire Continued)
This is just a short little wandering based on “Light My Fire.”

Summertime (Light My Fire Continued)
Here we go off on another little lyrical riff based on the same musical themes. We also get some more killer guitar work this time out, Krieger, riffing on some familiar musical concepts. At times he sounds almost Santana-like here.
St. James Infirmary Blues (Light My Fire Continued)
They drop it to just about acapella as Morrison weaves a new tale. It moves straight into the next segment.
Graveyard Poem (Light My Fire Continued)
This comes out of the last piece. As one can imagine it’s one of Morrison’s inimitable poems, this one rather extended.
Light My Fire (reprise)
They make a return to the musical themes that lead things off to bring it home.
More, More, More!
This is essentially the same as “All Right! All Right! All Right!” from the first disc – just with different words.
Ladies & Gentlemen
Here we get another short spoken, stage banter segment.
We Can't Instigate
This is a continuation of the whole stage banter.
They Want More
This is more stage banter with a little dig at the Morrison showing off his genitals bit. Music begins to hint at the blues jam that’s about to begin as this carries onward.
Been Down So Long
They jump out with a killer blues jam that calls to mind all the electric blues greats. It’s still every bit The Doors, though.
Power Turned Off
OK, truth in advertising this is a bit of a rant and audience response about the fact that the power was turned off on the band.
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