Dallas 1968 (No Label)
Dallas Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX, USA – July 9, 1968
(59:18) Soul Kitchen, Back Door Man, Five To One, Break On Through, The Crystal Ship, Texas Radio And The Big Beat, Hello I Love You, Moonlight Drive, Money, When The Music’s Over, Wake Up!, Light My Fire
The Doors played two dates in Texas during the summer of 1968 just a few days following their famous performance at the Hollywood Bowl. The dates, Dallas July 9 and Houston July 10 were both record from the audience and both tapes circulate. In what is a pleasant surprise, the folks at No Label have released the Dallas concert. There have been two other releases with material from this concert, The WASP and Money were featured on Boot Yer Butt (Bright Midnight Records RHM2 7911), an official set flawed by inconsistent and poor sound compared to what circulates in trading circles. The other release is a very rare bootleg title decades old called Memorial Coliseum Dallas July 9, 1968 (Lizard LZCD 020).
The audience recording falls into the very good category, it is clear and detailed with the vocals and instruments clean in the mix with Morrison’s vocals being in the forefront. The performance by The Doors is excellent, the audience response is rather timid so there is a nice separation of the music versus audience. This concert was supposedly recorded by the same person who recorded the Cream March 30, 1968, if so they were more successful in this capture. While the audience is timid, the atmosphere is well captured and this is a really enjoyable recording.
The band take the stage with Soul Kitchen to rapturous applause, Morrison interjects a bit of the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep prayer, at the 6:10 mark there is a nice sound improvement as the taper adjusts the location. The band follow with Back Door Man, this is again filled with improvisation by Jim, it seems like he is playing up to some girls close to the stage, he tells the band softer and “Get it in there….alright…(whistles) Lookin good”, Densmore follows with a loud drum fill then moves the band into an aggressive Five To One. Jim’s vocal delivery is excellent, his voice is strong and commanding, Robbie plays some great leads as Jim gets into the “I’ve got to get in a car with these people”, the song ends with Jim going anti climatic with a soft “Get it together one more…time”, superb.
Ray and Jim sing in harmony for the chorus’ in Break On Through, it needs to be stated the band, Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore are incredibly tight and fluid during this performance, if you have ever wondered why 1968 is so revered by Doors fans, this performance is the evidence. Typical for versions during this period Jim gets into the “There you sit, all by yourself”, interesting is Robbie is playing some percussive riffing during it, when the song kicks into the finale it is very dynamic. After a nice round of applause and some brief tuning by Ray, they play a simply beautiful version of The Crystal Ship. Jim gives a perfect vocal rendition that is dreamlike in quality, this is what good things are made of.
Taking inspiration from his surrounding Jim goes into Texas Radio And The Big Beat, this is a poetry rendition not the famous LA Woman version, the lines are mostly the same. The band play more dissident sounds to accent the piece, this leads into Hello I Love You. The band played a few days prior at the Hollywood Bowl and also played it the following night in Houston. This is a straight forward version, no frills. Moonlight Drive follows and is an excellent version, Morrison’s dreamy lyric melds with Robbie’s slide recreating that atmospheric feel like the version on Strange Days. The band dig deep in their repertoire for a version of Money, this version is more John Lee Hooker than The Beatles.
The band finally get into When The Music’s Over, this song is a show stopper. Morrison keeps the audience on the edge during a quiet middle section where he almost hums and chants like in some solitude of prayer. You could hear a pin drop before he erupts into a violent “WE WANT THE WORLD AND WE WANT IT….NOW” that blows the audience (and listener) away. Manzarek takes the lead with some ambient snake like organ leads that give that Middle Eastern flare, stunning version. Jim asks the crowd “What do you wanna hear now?” and begins a conversion with the audience that leads into the Wake Up poem that is used as the Light My Fire intro. Jim kept his poems to a minimum for this concert, the next night in Houston would find him expanding on them. The crowd has no idea where they are going but as soon as they get into Fire’s intro, they erupt with applause. There is a tape fade / cut at 1:38 with certainly a big portion of the song missing. It is reported Jim jumped off the stage and “interacted” with local law enforcement as well as a few audience members, some is certainly captured here starting near the 3:30 mark. The recording ends after the band finish to a huge round of applause, a stunning performance.
A bit of the curious, this concert was partially filmed with small portions used for the Feast Of Friends project. The opening band was The Moving Sidewalks featuring one Billy Gibbons who would, of course, go on to found the great Texas band ZZ Top. The packaging is very nice, mostly live shots plus a Waiting For The Sun cover outtake to make up the inserts. There is a small repro of the concert poster and ticket, a nice addition. Great Jim pic makes up the CD art and a different Waiting For The Sun cover shot is featured on the numbered sticker, a very detailed presentation. Doors titles have been very sparse so this release is much welcomed by myself. The sound and performance make this an easy title to recommend. Shortly after this title was released, the folks at No Label announced their version of the Toronto Rock And Roll Revival 1969 performance that I look forward to listening to soon. Let’s hope they continue with more Doors titles in the near future.