As a long-time collector of Doors material on tapes, LPs, singles and CDs from all countries and sources I was appalled by the lack of really interesting new material on The Box Set. In their archives there are tons of live concerts recorded for Absolutely Live, there are plenty of alternative versions of published songs, there is a lot of unpublished but recorded material (like the studio version of Celebration Of The Lizard, the bluesy Paris Blues, or lost songs they mentioned during interviews like Luther And The Apostle and Happy For A Night And A Day, early versions of Peace Frog and unedited versions of The End, plus the unheard jam of Van and Jim Morrison doing Gloria at the Whisky A Go Go). Where is Carol from their Winterland show, Touch Me from the L.A.Forum? What turned out to be the long-awaited, long delayed, much celebrated famous Box Set? A disappointment for the long-time fan. Just 6 new unknown songs of 47 on the box! One live concert, mislabelled and cut, not even taken from one single concert but from at least 6 different shows. One totally uninteresting CD of band's favorites. Whole lotta material from bootlegs we already had in our collections for ages (on this box not even in better soundquality). Let me give you my comments on the tracks - I am giving you some extra information which was not given by The Doors in the accompanying book for the Box Set (The Doors' liner notes are pretty interesting and amusing to read, all comments are very characteristic for each member of the band, but there's a lot more you could say about the tracks):


CD 1: Without A Safety Net
Five To One (recorded at the Dinner Key Auditorium, Miami, March 1, 1969) does not really capture what was going on that night. It's just one song of a few they played or - better to say - tried to play. Touch Me would have been a better choice and although this one was interrupted by Jim's screaming, it totally set that night on fire.
Queen Of The Highway is a great find. A totally different version, very jazzy! I love it. I can imagine Louis Armstrong singing this incredibly good alternative lounge-jazz version.
Hyacinth House, another favorite. Written by Jim at Robby's house and recorded there on the spot using Robby's little Sony four-track, spontaneous and rough. Good one. Not really as dark as most people see it. Robby puts it straight in his comments. John Densmore played bongos.
My Eyes Have Seen You comes from The Doors' Demo disc acetate, recorded at World Pacific Studios, L.A., September 2,1965. For the Box Set it was taken from Jim Morrison's copy of the demo, now owned by Ray Manzarek. Most fans knew it from scratched bootleg records taken from another copy of the ony 5 existing ones. All songs from the first demo-recording have been perfectly restored and digitally remastered for the Box Set. Fine work, recorded without Robby, but with Rick Manzarek on guitar and Jim Manzarek on harp.
Who Scared You, another one of my favorite Doors songs. Somehow I always thought it was a bit enhanced by the horn charts, directed by Paul Harris. The worst thing I noticed was they cut out the line "... and if you warm it up right I'm gonna love you tonight ...". Why? There was absolutely no reason to cut that line off. Get the double vinyl album Weird Scenes Inside The Goldmine to get the complete track.
Black Train Song, said to be recorded at The Spectrum, Philadelphia, May 1, 1970, is just a 12-minute part of a more than 25-minute jam. Again - I prefer to listen to complete tracks, not just parts. Anyway, this was never published, not even on bootleg. An alternative version (but the complete jam) was played by the band at the Center Coliseum, Seattle, June 5, 1970, published on the bootleg CD Jim's Alive. The intro, People Get Ready, was written by Curtis Mayfield, and a part of the medley, Crossroads, was written by Robert Johnson. Why aren't those people mentioned in the credits?
End Of The Night, another demo-song from the acetate, sung by Jim and Ray. Compare the lyrics to the version from the first Doors-album - different lyrics! ("... take a trip to the end of the night...")
Whiskey, Mystics And Men is an outtake from the Morrison Hotel-sessions. Great chantey, but overdubbed during the An American Prayer-sessions in 1977 by the three remaining Doors. Compare it to the bootleg versions known from Missing Links and Jim Morrison - The Lost Paris Tapes.
I Will Never Be Untrue, a fantastic bluesy, very ironic version of a song already known from An American Prayer. Perfect lyrics: "Never stay out drinking, no later than two." And then this tiny addition which makes it worth to buy the complete box: "... two-thirty!". You can actually SEE Jim smiling saying this! One of the most ironic songs Jim ever wrote. Beautiful.
Moonlight Drive, another song from the acetate, sung by Jim and Ray. I still love Ray's cool "Drive On!" and Jim Manzarek's (Ray's brother) fine harp.
Moonlight Drive (Sunset Sound), recorded on their first recording session for Elektra in August 1966 after they signed the contract. Comes pretty close to the third version, published on the album Strange Days. But this one is not as moody as the Strange Days-version, and Robby's slideguitar work isn't perfect at all. Anyway - interesting. Listening to this version we understand why this was not used for the first album - the song wasn't perfect at that time.
Rock Is Dead and Albinioni's Adagio In G Minor are exactly the versions cut together from an hour long session recorded for The Soft Parade on February 25, 1969. Responsible for the inaudible cuts was Paul Rothchild in 1979. Ray didn't play his organ or his piano but a mellotron on this tune. Just a few overdubs were done on the Adagio in 1997 - Robby added some guitar playing a pick (he never did that in the old days), and John added some percussion (Compare it to what was published on the Missing Links bootleg CD and on the vinyl bootleg Rock Is Dead). Both songs were circulating among Doors fans since 1980, it wasn't anything new for anyone.


CD 2: Live In New York
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Jim puts it right: "... everything is fucked up as usual ..." As usual with official Live Doors releases. Dizzy Doors-work in the cutting process of the CD. This so-called Live In New York CD was recorded at the Felt Forum, which is a smaller venue inside the Madison Square Garden. (The REAL Madison Square Garden concert John Densmore remembers so well in his book Riders On The Storm took place on January 24, 1969). So, in my opinion, the CD has got a misleading title. It has been cut from at least 6 different shows (four at the Felt Forum January 17-18, 1970 and one at the Aquarius Theatre in Los Angeles, July 21st, 1969 and Cobo Hall, Detroit, May 8, 1970).

Roadhouse Blues comes from at least 3 different shows and was overdubbed with some great guitar by Robby Krieger in 1996 (first part of the song is from Cobo Hall, Detroit, not from New York!). I prefer the version from An American Prayer. Listen to the first verse, it's the same on both publications.
Ship Of Fools was cut from two different versions, greatest part was taken from the late show on January 18. This also got some overdubs by Krieger (clearly audible in the middle instrumental break).
Peace Frog, great cut with slight lyrical variations. The following smooth Blue Sunday is one of the few songs (very unstable vocals by Jim, off-time drumming by John and unusually sloppy bass notes by Ray Manzarek) from January 17, early show, again Robby's (well-needed) overdubs on guitar. The weakest and silliest song on the whole box.
The Celebration Of The Lizard is worth to compare to what was published on the bootleg double LP Bring Out Your Dead. Too many cuts on the Box Set version, especially during Jim's spoken intro. This intro is SO great on the bootleg, but much too short here. I really do prefer the bootleg version of the epic from the Felt Forum (Bring Out Your Dead) or the one we already know by heart from Absolutely Live. I hate the much too short cut into the "Wake up"-part!
Gloria, a mind-blowing dirty version (most probably a complete one) from the soundcheck at the Aquarius Theatre in Los Angeles, July 21st, 1969. So this is definitely not the version from New York (as published on the bootleg CD box Stages. At the Felt Forum they played a very soft and clean version mixed with My Eyes Have Seen You). Why not telling us fans the truth? Of course it was overdubbed with audience noises if it really was a soundcheck. Somehow I even doubt it was recorded during the soundcheck but in the recording studio. But still no certainty on that. Check your Gloria on your Alive She Cried or In Concert-CDs to know what I mean.
Crawling King Snake might be called a definite version but it doesn't sound like being from the Felt Forum at all. Who knows.
Money, a great driving song with the wrong spoken (of course cut) intro, which Jim did for Light My Fire on Jan. 18, late show.
Poontang Blues / Build Me A Woman / Sunday Trucker is a version cut from two Felt Forum shows (no overdubs for a change this time).
The End is a slightly cut version from January 17, including a few Robby Krieger overdubs from 1996. I think it is the best version ever published, blows away even the studio version from the first album. Jim's voice is thrilling, and his "uugh!" after the line "... he put his boots on ..." is awesome. "Hey you old fool, I'm gonna kill you ...". Heard that before? "Woman, I wanna fuck you mama, all night long ...", great lyrical variations. Jim becomes our scaring and overfriendly guest in the living room. Listen to the climax of the instruments and Jim's screams - isn't it the chaos of the universe?

A great and cleverly mixed CD, unfortunately not one complete concert.


CD 3: The Future Ain't What It Used To Be
Hello To The Cities: Not really funny at all. Crap, that's what it is. I could have missed that one, especially the Ed Sullivan-intro. Absolutely useless.
Break On Through is one of the gorgeous tracks on the Box Set. I still think this is the best version ever published of this song. Great intro by Ray. But again - just a part of a good concert. I still don't know why Hopkins/Sugerman describe the Isle Of Wight concert as being a bad one. Listen to the almost complete concert on the bootleg CDs Palace Of Exile and First Flash Of Eden.
Rock Me is a great and uncut track from the Pacific National Exhibition Coliseum, Vancouver, June 6th, 1970, as previously published on the bootleg CD One Hundred Minutes (best soundquality and complete concert). This track features the damn good Albert King on guitar, same as the next track, Money.
Someday Soon still is one of the great lost Doors songs. I never heard of a studio version around - probably never recorded, but you never know with The Doors. The version on the Box Set cuts the intro off, unfortunately. Listen to the complete version on the bootleg Jim's Alive, which even is in better soundquality. Great song!
Go Insane, the weirdest song from the demo (on the label it was just called "Insane"). Later published as a part of The Celebration Of The Lizard, this is the very early version. It is hard to recognize Jim's voice. It still had to develope. Great to have the finish of the song now which was cut off from all bootleg versions - even it is just a very last bass note! Ray remembers being thrown out by a guy at Liberty Records because of this song. "I hate you hippies, get out of my office! You guys are sick!"
Mental Floss is just rubbish, no poetry, not even funny, just crap. A stream of improvisational theatrical meant-to-be entertaining raps. Cut, of course.
The very bright Summer's Almost Gone-version from the demo is next. A lovely duet by Ray and Jim. John is giving a very silly comment in the accompanying book, "The Doors trying to surf." This comment doesn't capture the great but sad atmosphere of this early demo. Definitely not a surf-song but a fine one perfectly made for watching the L.A. sunset at Venice Beach.
Adolph (sic) Hitler (I remember from my history lessons at school his first name was Adolf???) Another hint to Jim's weird humor. Listen to a complete version of the same poem on Jim Morrison - The Lost Paris Tapes, the one on the Box Set got cut (why?). I have no idea why Jim liked to perform this poem in concerts. It's probably just a joke. Bad one, by the way.
Hello, I Love You is a great early version of their 1968 hit single. Even more powerful than the known hit-single it delivers more invisible sexuality than the later studio version. By the way, what's so bad about The Monkees, John, (remember your comment in the booklet?) Ever heard Randy Scouse Git, Mommy And Daddy, Tapioca Tundra or the great Pleasant Valley Sunday? Don't think so. Hello I Love You has great lyrics. And so have those four Monkees songs. There are even more great lyrics out there from the Monkees and the people who wrote songs for them.
The Crystal Ship and I Can't See Your Face In My Mind are two good songs from The Doors' Matrix concerts in San Francisco in March 1967. Good choice from the most well-known Doors bootlegs. Everybody already knew them. Thanks for having them again on an official CD. I prefer to listen to the complete concerts of The Matrix on - sorry - the bootlegs, where those two songs were copied from.
Already published before on the video The Soft Parade, we could have easily missed this version of the song The Soft Parade, recorded at eight o'clock in the morning on May 13, 1969, in New York at PBS-TV Studios. We all bought the video. Thanks for letting us buy the song again to whoever decided to put that song on the Box Set (this version is great, but don't you have a good alternative version performed in front of an audience?).
Tightrope Ride: Fine song, Ray, your tribute to Jim Morrison, representing the feelings you had about him in 1971. Good vocals But what is this song doing on the Box Set? Out of place, out of time, out of context. Just a filler?
Orange County Suite: Great overdubs. Great bass, great guitar. Great timing of Jim's voice to the instruments. Everything done by computers. They even streched out single words from the original version, recorded in March 1969 at Elektra Studios (not at his home on his private piano, as some silly newspapers reported). Listen to the pure and uncut version on the bootleg CD Jim Morrison - The Lost Paris Tapes, and you know the incredible difference of moods - and to my great surprise - for the first time I am uncertain to decide which version I like more and prefer. The one on the Box Set is crystal clear, polished, combined with great music (especially Robby's guitar. I love to listen to it following Jim's piano chords) for the new generation of Doors fans; the one on the bootleg is more direct, more intense but unpolished (for the Jim Morrison fan). If one can't decide, why not listen to the third version, recorded in Paris two weeks before he died, being totally drunk (as presented on Jim Morrison - The Lost Paris Tapes)? Strange lyrics, though. "'Orange County Suite' is like The Beatles' Free As A Bird ... John (Lennon) wrote the song and his mates completed it for him; and that's exactly what we did with Jim", Ray Manzarek told Mojo Magazine last December. Why is this song credited "Written by The Doors"? It was definitely written by Jim Morrison, later overdubs by The Doors.


CD 4: Band Favorites
A waste of plastic, time, money and other things. Another useless BEST OF-compilation nobody is interested in. A mention in the book would have been enough. All fans would have preferred a fourth CD with rare material mentioned in the intro of this review. Plus TV rarities like the Jonathan Winters Show, the Ed Sullivan Show, the Smothers Brothers Show, the Now Explosion Show, the Murray The K-Show, a rare take from the Copenhagen Show or another great alternative take from a recording session, all those tracks are available in brilliant soundquality. Light My Fire was written by Robby Krieger, definitely. But on the original album it was credited to "The Doors". This leads to the question - why was Orange County Suite credited to "The Doors" (which is not true), but their very original song is now credited to Robby (which is true)?



The accompanying book is great, featuring some fine and excellent (ah - too small!) unpublished photos, liner notes to all songs by all three Doors, well-written articles by Michael Ventura and Tom Robbins and most insightful insider stories. Great to see photos of some master reel-to-reel boxes on the inlays (hey, what's the tune called PUSH-PUSH on the box labelled "Doors Spares"?) Are you guys saving this for a kind of Box Set Vol.2?
But I am sure - if they had only asked the fans, this Box Set would have been very different. This is definitely not the one that we expected. This is definitely not the GREAT LOST DOORS ALBUM that we have been awaiting for years. This came out because of public demand, or because box sets have become fashion. Thanks it is not another compilation album. This was released to top and beat the bootleggers. In my opinion, the Box Set fails compared to the rare material published on bootlegs for the past 25 years (despite just 6 great new songs and versions). Pity. Being a collector of Doors music for 30 years, I am quite disappointed about the Box Set.
So are many fans and journalists who reviewed the 4 CDs. Disappointed in a way to say this could have been done much much better. Much more satisfying for everybody. Everybody can't wait for a Volume 2, but be sure to carefully think over what the fans would like to hear. Even if it was the worst Morrison vocal ever, we would be happy to listen to it. As long as it is new to our ears. And - don't cut it! There's nothing better than the real, uncut Doors. But they're not on this Box Set. Pity.
     

1998 Rainer Moddemann, The Doors Quarterly Magazine. This review may not be distributed in any other context or media without the written permission of the copyright owner.