From The Ancient Gallery (The Godfatherecords G.R.937)
Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden – September 20, 1968 – Late Show
(72:25) Five To One, Mack The Knife, Alabama Song, Back Door Man, You’re Lost Little Girl, Love Me Two Times, When The Music’s Over, Wild Child, Money, Wake Up, Light My Fire, Turn Out The Lights, The End
The Doors were a Californian band, not to be confused with other illustrious groups such as the Grateful Dead or Jefferson Airplane, who also came from the state. While the latter two groups played a mix of Blues, Folk and American music heavy on improvisation, The Doors were certainly their more sinister counterparts. More immersed in Jazz and the Blues blended with Avant garde tinged with improvisation they were not along for the trip, they were leading the journey with Jim Morrison taking the lead. They had electrified the scene with intense concert appearances as well as playing for mainstream audiences thanks to shows like Ed Sullivan. Amid growing unrest in American over the Vietnam War they pushed the limits during their summer concert tour that many times let to complete chaos. During September 1968 they made their first trip to Europe for a tour that saw them paired with the Jefferson Airplane, far from the eyes of the world they played intimate concerts for audiences who where not there for the event but to listen and watch the performers, the tour was a major success in terms of attendance and in terms of artistic satisfaction from the band that equated to some of the best performances the band would ever perform.
On September 20, 1968 The Doors played two concerts the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden and gave permission for both to be broadcast on radio station Radiohuset. The resulting recordings give a prime example of the band at the height of their collective powers and are the source for many bootlegs. On vinyl the shows have been released as The Beautiful Die Young… (MIW Records 19) featuring parts of both early and late shows, The Complete Stockholm ’68 Tapes (DOORS 68) and deluxe 3 lp set containing both the early and late shows, Little Games (Shotgun Records 13010) that is a mix of both early and late shows, The Stockholm Tapes (unknown label) another 3 lp set packaged in a box with a deluxe cover. On CD there have been releases as Live In Stockholm (The Swinging Pig TSP CD-004-2) that featured both early and late shows on a 2CD set, Live In Stockholm ’68 Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Black Panther CD 30/31) that were copies of the Swinging Pig title, The Lizard King (Vulture Records 002) a mix of both early and late shows on a single disc, Red Walls Blue Doors (WPOCM CD 1288D012-2) featuring only the late show, The Stockholm Tapes (DR 010) featuring only the late show, Sneaking Out The Backdoor (The Last Bootleg Records LBR SP 001/7) features both early and late shows, and Apocalypse Now (Kiss The Stone KTS 267), an excellent title featuring the late show.
For this new release from Godfather, The Don presents for the first time on a silver pressed bootleg, showcases the late show from September 20, 1968 from the master tape. What does this mean you ask? A huge improvement in sound over the older titles. It is the same recording but much clearer and brighter sound, the distortion on Jim’s vocals is still there but does not bleed in the recording like the old Swinging Pig title and it simply sounds wonderful. Since The Doors started releasing live titles under their Bright Midnight label, fans have been clambering for this show, since we will likely never see that, this title more than makes up for it. The recording begins with the call to arms of “Five To One”, one can take many interpretations to Jim’s lyrics, the best I had read was five to one is the ratio to people under the age of 30 outnumber the old five to one. Of course the radio station does not censor the “I Got in this car with these people and get …f*cked up”, Jim slurring his words in true bluesman tradition. To show their respect from the European audiences the band treat them to an impromptu version of “The Ballad Of Mack The Knife” by Weill and Bretcht that was made famous by Frank Sinatra in America that flows right into the same song writing duo’s “Alabama Song” aka “Whiskey Bar”, a song the band adapted for their first self title LP. The song flows right into the abrupt riff of Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man”, played in true blues fashion. Morrison lets yell with a manic laugh before the band slows it down for the pork and beans section, the song is a prime example of their blues origins and garners a huge round of applause before Morrison tells them “Stop That”.
A real highlight of this recording is the bands rendition of “Your Lost Little Girl”, rarely played on stage the melancholy playing of Robby Krieger is wonderful and Morrison turns in a beautiful vocal for the song, no screaming and yelling on this song. “Love Me Two Times” from the Strange Days record was a true Krieger song, the lyrics much more about simple love and curiously would prove to be The Doors most radio friendly songs. A true centerpiece of most all Doors shows is “When The Music’s Over”, dense with mysterious lyrics and some of the most powerful music the band would ever explore it features Morrison at his most dramatic. All three musicians solo at one time or another, they blend the instruments as an accent to the lyrics. John Densmore goes from keeping simple time to answering Morrison in a point blank response accentuating message. The lyrics are expansive, moving from psychedelia to powder struggles to a commentary of the abuse of resources, all leading to a demand of “We Want The World and We Want It NOW “, Morrison keeping the audience on edge before finally letting out a huge yell in true dramatic fashion. The song again garners a huge ovation with the audience clapping and shouting their approval, one can only agree.
Curiously the band play an early version of “Wild Child”, a song that would not find its way onto a Doors record for close to a year until the release of 1969’s The Soft Parade. It started appearing in the bands set early the prior month of August 2nd at the band’s chaotic performance at the Singer Bowl in Flushing Meadows, New York. This version is much subdued to that version largely due to the circumstances, but we are treated to a superb rendition of the song and is nice to be able fully enjoy. They continue with their take on the Gordy / Robinson classic “Money”, a song that they had been playing since their early incarnation of the band in their pub days. They play a laid back version of the song that features song great Manzerek keys as he hammers out a great solo, the song simply swings as the band hit their stride.
“Light My Fire” is the culmination of Doors Concerts, its there most popular song and therefore is the one that people clamor to hear. Live versions are always extended, to give a showcase to move through music themes such as jazz, Manzerek, Krieger, and Densmore were all aficionados of the form and this song is their vehicle to express it. This version clocks in at over 11 minutes and features a long center section where they free form the music with teases of Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”, Morrison does enter the fray at about 8 minutes in when he asks “why you jump up my ass…what did you come hear for anyway?” in some obvious dialog with an audience member and forces the band to abruptly go back into the main theme of the song and push Morrison’s focus back to the music.
The set concludes appropriately as Morrison asks for the lights to be lowered and only use the blue lights, there is a small language barrier with the operators and the band chants “turn out the lights” before Jim lets out a quieting “sshh” and Krieger hits the opening chords of “The End”. The song has much evolved from its early incarnations of a song of loves departed; now it is an apocalyptic masterpiece of theatre set to music. The song clocks in at close to 15 minutes in length and features a variety of lyric poems by Jim that culminates with the Oedipal section, perhaps it most moving yet frightening piece that polarized listeners as far back as the groups pre record deal days at the Whisky A Go Go. Live versions of this song are always an event, this is certainly one, if not my most favorite version (the Singer Bowl is awesome too). The end of the set and of a most successful European tour as the band leaves the stage amid respectful applause.
The packaging is the typical tri gatefold sleeve adorned with pictures from 1968, most in black and white. There is a fold out insert with liner notes and a wonderful dedication, “In loving memory of our friend Gerard”, a wonderful gesture by a bootleg company to a person that helped the collection community. Although I am a contributor to this site, I am foremost a fan and active reader of all the reviews on CMR, even through I do not actively collect some of the artists featured here. Our forum to express our love of the music is our common thread, making this dedication all the more poignant. Enough soapbox, this is simply an excellent title of the complete Stockholm concert, lets hope someday the early show makes it way in this quality, it also deserves to be heard in this quality. This title is highly recommended, no it’s essential. Final word is simple…definitive.