The Doors – Stockholm 1968 Pre-FM (No Label)

Stockholm 1968 Pre-FM (No Label)

Konserthuset, Stockholm, Sweden – September 20, 1968

Disc 1 (43:15) Early Show
Introduction, Five To One, Love Street, Love Me Two Times, When The Music’s Over, A Little Game, The Hill Dwellers, Light My Fire, The Unknown Soldier

Disc 2 (72:23) Late Show
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’ European tour in September 1968 consisted of ten concerts and three television appearances beginning with the Top of the Pops on September 5 and ending with two concerts on the same day in Stockholm, Sweden. The latter two concerts, early and late shows, in Stockholm were professionally recorded by Sveriges Radio and broadcast on Radiohuset from which the early bootlegs featuring this material were culled from. Perhaps the best of the early vinyl bootlegs was Live In Stockholm 1968 (The Swingin’ Pig-TSP-004-3), a deluxe 3LP box set featuring both shows. Other vinyl titles are 3LP The Complete Stockholm ’68 Tapes (German LP 1985), and two LP sets Little Games-The Complete Stockholm Tapes (Shogun Records-13010) and The Beautiful Die Young… (MIW Records 19). On compact disc the bootleggers were more selective only releasing the late show on titles The Stockholm Tapes (Document Records-DR 010), Red Walls Blue Doors (World Productions Of Compact Music-WPOCM 1288 D 012-2), Live In Stockholm ’68-Volume One (Black Panther Records-BPCD-030), The Lizard King (Vulture Records-VT CD 002), Apocalypse Now (Kiss The Stone-KTS 267) and most recently From The Ancient Gallery (The Godfatherecords G.R.937) culled from a Pre-FM source. The only title to include the full early show is the excellent Live In Stockholm 1968 (The Swingin’ Pig-TSP-CD-004-2), a title I am very happy to have in my collection.

This new title from the No Label folks features both early and late shows taken from the Pre-FM sources, for sound comparison I will be using my Live In Stockholm 1968 (The Swingin’ Pig-TSP-CD-004-2) and From The Ancient Gallery (The Godfatherecords G.R.937) titles. For anyone who has heard either of these recordings know they are the best in terms of sound quality of The Doors in their prime. The early show has some issues with Jim’s vocals being low in the mix and cutting out, but it’s certainly not anything that takes away from ones enjoyment in your listening experience. The instruments are perfectly balanced, the audience is mixed at a decent volume, just really excellent sound for both performances. The sound of the early set on this new Pre-FM is a nice upgrade over the decades old Swingin’ Pig title. The sound is crisp and clean with a much fuller sound, the old TSP title sounds flat in comparison. The distortion on Jim’s vocals is much less and the sound on John’s drums is very natural sounding. Thankfully I hear no excessive mastering or any heavy handed mastering techniques and the claim of being sourced from a Pre-FM source sounds legit.

The first show is excellent opening with a raucous version of the defiant Five To One from Waiting For The Sun, the LP the band were touring in support at the time. The radio does not try to censor his line, “I gotta go out in this car with these people and get…F***ed up”, perhaps they did not even know it was there as it comes during a loud portion of the song, the band end the song quite heavily. The absolute highlight of this concert immediately follows, the only known live version of Love Street. Certainly being away from the prying eyes of the North American press has presented The Doors with musical freedom and a willing audience who sit and listen. Jim’s vocal is stunningly beautiful and the song works wonderful in the live setting, his ‘lala lala lala” parts are rather joyous in his delivery. The engineers seem to fade back the sound as the song ends and nearly runs non stop into Love Me Two Times, Jim pushes his vocals and this leads to distortion, but is much less in this versus the old TSP title.

The epic When The Music’s Over is the mid set centerpiece, the engineers have Jim’s vocals low in the mix, you can hear them but they’re a bit difficult, perhaps in response to the red lined vocals on Love Me Two Times. The three instrumentalists are turning in excellent performances as well, Ray’s bass notes come in loud and clear and his hypnotic organ notes flow around like billowing psychedelic smoke. Robbie weaves his guitar playing foil to Ray’s keys and the vastly underrated John Densmore does not keep time yet punctuates much of Jim’s lyrics, like answering back in a musical debate…Jazz sensibilities in Rock music. The A Little Game and The Hill Dwellers is lyrical improvisation set to music taken from the opus The Celebration Of The Lizard, without being in the confines of performing the piece as a whole, the band get a little Jazzy in their playing which they excel at. Light My Fire is the radio hit that made the group famous, in the live setting the band use it as a free form piece in which to jam a bit. The interplay between Robbie and Ray is superb, they trade licks not unlike Blackmore and Lord would do years later, and again John’s drumming is superlative playing Rock, Jazz, and Latin styles which is stunning to hear. The Doors come back for a singular encore, a version of The Unknown Soldier, Jim asks the audience what they would like to hear, their responses are hard to hear but he quiets them down and begins “Wait until the war is over…”. Curious that this song only made occasional appearances in the set in North America but was played at the majority of the European dates, this version is an absolute show stopper and extremely powerful, the audience respond loudly bringing an end to a superb performance.

The late show has certainly seen the most releases over the years, it doesn’t have the vocal issues the first set suffers from and is an excellent document of The Doors in 1968. This is the same source as what Godfather used on the superb title From The Ancient Gallery (The Godfatherecords G.R.937) and this new No Label sounds nearly identical, perhaps only lacking a very small amount of bass and having a very slightly more open and instrumental separation, again just very slight. Both sets suffer from the same defect, Jim’s vocals tend to overload the VU meters when he sings aggressively like the early set, the second show is overall better balanced, most certainly the reason it has been so often bootlegged. This is an excellent version of the recording and while not an upgrade, is on par with the Godfather title.

The late show 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. Again 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 for the European audiences the band treat them to an impromptu version of “The Ballad Of Mack The Knife” by Weill and Bretcht, 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 titled LP. The song flows right into the abrupt riff of Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man”, played in true blues fashion. Morrison lets out a 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 “You’re 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 one of 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 band’s 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 to 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 some great Manzarek 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, it’s their 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, Manzarek, 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 here 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 the 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 a most successful European tour as the band leaves the stage amid respectful applause.

The No Label folks have been turning out a select few Doors titles over the past year, all have been excellent. The label uses black and white shots from the European tour as well as scans of ticket stubs for both performances. Both discs have pictures of Jim, the numbered sticker features a group posed shot, a very attractive package, all housed in a slimline jewel case. These recordings rank high among Doors collectors for good reason, the performance and sound are both excellent. Supposedly the actual master tapes for both still exist and for some unknown reason have not been officially released, certainly money plays a part. Nonetheless, here is your chance to obtain both performances in best ever sound quality, this is pork, beans, and chicken all in one meal.  

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    Detailed review. It’s a pity WTMO from the early show is still incomplete, missing 3-4 minutes in the middle of the track. Apparently something went wrong when the Swedish radio recorded this song, apart from the low vocal.
    Hopefully there will be more releases from the 1967-1968 period.
    I’m glad that all the matrix club tapes get an official release.(see Break on Through: The Doors Re-Enter The Matrix in Restored Live Set – The Second Disc)


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