“The Isle Of Wight Festival” 1970 (Satellite 6 – SAT108)
Isle Of Wight Festival, Alton Down, Isle Of Wight, England – August 30th, 1970
Back Door Man, Break on Through, When The Music Is Over, Ship Of Fools, Roadhouse Blues, Light My Fire, The End
The Doors’ Isle Of Wight set first circulated in a good but incomplete audience recording. The multi-track soundboard surfaced years later and has been booted many times, most famously on Palace Of Exile (Colosseum C-013). The sound quality was official quality on the older releases and the only negative was a major cut in “The End.”
Several years ago an edition of the tape surfaced without that major cut and is now finally released on silver by Satellite 6. There are two minor cuts, one after “When The Music’s Over” and one before “The End” with no loss of music. Sonically, the only issues surround the balance since at times Robbie Krieger’s guitar sounds slightly buried in the mix, but they are merely quibbles when taken in context of this wonderful sounding document.
Reviews afterwards were mixed. John Coleman was particularly harsh when he wrote: “The Doors were abysmal. Since watching them drag their weary way through that embarrassing set, people I’ve rapped to often tell me what I missed and how good Manzarek was and how well they did ‘Light My Fire’ and how foxy Morrison looked. It must be fucking hard work for people who dug the band in the past to keep those pretty illusions floating around. They were bored and apathetic, to them it was just another gig to keep their charisma going; but this time they blew it.” (“IOW 70: The Music”. Friends, October 2, 1970.)
Others were a bit more positive, such as Roy Carr who wrote: “For nearly everyone it was the very first time that they had ever seen the legendary Jim Morrison. Whether he lived up to their expectations we’ll never know, nevertheless both he and the Doors were given a resounding welcome (writes Roy Carr). Having seen the Doors on a number of occasions, I can report that this was a good, if somewhat subdued, performance which consisted mainly of songs from their three-year old first album. A bearded Morrison was just content to stand quite still and deliver his rather sombre songs, while organist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore provide an equally sinister backing. The Doors music is a very acquired taste, but it seems that it is liked by many.” (“Yes, There Was Music Too !” New Musical Express, September 5, 1970.)
Listening to the tape reveals that the band were playing very well and this is on par with many other shows from 1970. It is a shame they focused only upon earlier material and ignored the album the were working on at the time L.A. Woman. But the negativity is aimed at the visuals and Morrison’s lack on energy through the performance.
The tape begins with mc Rikki Farr saying, “It is officially reported that over a half a million people have come to the Isle Of Wight for this festival. One of the reason … one of the reasons, ladies and gentlemen is on the stage now. Please welcome, The Doors !”
The Doors opened up with a pretty gutsy version of “Back Door Man” and was followed by an energetic sounding version of “Break On Through,” which has a similar arrangement to the version that appears on Absolutely Live. Morrison gave out his blood curling screams and Krieger played his serpentine slithering guitar sound during the group’s next number, a thirteen minute version of “When The Music’s Over”.
They follow with two songs from their latest album Morrison Hotel, “Ship Of Fools” and “Roadhouse Blues.” from their latest album at the time, “Morrison Hotel”. Ray Manzarek had plays an extended improvised organ solo during the former and Morrison includes a line from “Land Ho!” at the end: “Laaaaaaa-nd, Land Ho ! Laaaaaaa-nd, Land Ho !”
“Light My Fire” is almost fifteen minutes long and Krieger threatens to get into “My Favorite Things” from The Sound Of Music. The set ends with “The End”. This particular version also includes “Across The Sea,” “Away In India,” “Cross-roads,” and surprisingly “Wake Up.” “Wake Up” was not usually inserted within “The End” – but seeing Jim didn’t prelude “Light My Fire” with “Wake Up” as he normally would, on this occasion he took the opportunity and blended it in seamlessly. T
he final two minutes of the tape has the audience by the stage begging for Morrison to return and Pink Floyd’s “Arnold Layne” being played over the PA. Satellite 6 package this title in a cardboard digipack sleeve with several photos from the event, show just how static Morrison appeared to the audience. Until such time this tape and the film footage are released, this version will serve as definitive.