Yin Yang

By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  August 14, 2007

“Boston was the best town for rock and roll,” says Krieger, “and I thought that was a great show because Jim was out there but we were able to reel him in. We’d go on to the next song and he’d be right there. Then he might go off a little bit and get into some trouble, but then he’d get back in focus. I don’t know how he did it, but that was part of the excitement.”

The second set is a barn burner. Morrison’s skewed timing is akin to that of a jazz singer: he warps the rhythm, following his own cadence but falling into line when he needs to. And the band fire on all cylinders, splitting the show between hits and album tracks. The second “When the Music’s Over” is better than the first set’s, this time minus the come-on, and “Light My Fire” is regal, an extended version incorporating brief snippets of the standards “Fever,” “Summertime,” and “St. James Infirmary.”

Other highlights are less familiar Doors tunes like “The Spy,” and “Been Down So Long,” as well as the covers of perennials “Mystery Train” and “Crossroads.” A greater allegiance to the blues, always an element of the Doors’ music, blankets the performance. Krieger’s guitar is nastier, grungier than on the studio recordings; Manzarek is creative in his double-duty task, providing the bass parts with his left hand and his more æthereal keyboard lines with his right; Densmore, one of rock’s most underrated drummers, is crisp and lyrical, putting down a much-needed anchor and always hitting the mark.

The Doors, and Morrison, had little more than a year left. Morrison’s death, on July 3, 1971, put a DOA stamp on the band. (The survivors did attempt to continue without him for two more albums.) At the same time, it turbo-charged the Morrison legend.

In Boston, Morrison was already buying into the doomsday myth that had been erected around him. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, man,” he says during the second show, “but I want to have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames.” Ironic, perhaps, that it did end in a bathroom, Morrison’s bloated, burned-out body found slumped in the bathtub of his Paris apartment. In his new book The End — Jim Morrison, Sam Bernett, who ran the Parisian club the Rock ’n Roll Circus, claims that he found Morrison dead of a heroin overdose in the Circus’s bathroom and that the body was then taken back to Morrison’s apartment and dumped into the bathtub there. Krieger acknowledges, “It could be true. It’s a reasonable scenario. But nobody will ever know.”

Today, Krieger and Manzarek play Doors music in Riders on the Storm, a band named after the hit tune from the Doors’ final album with Morrison. (The pair are estranged from Densmore.) They recently recruited a new singer, Brett Scallions, from the band Fuel; Krieger points out that he “doesn’t look anything like Jim.” Phil Chen plays bass and Ty Dennis is on drums. Last month they performed at the 40th-anniversary tribute to the Monterey Pop Festival, an event the original Doors skipped. Among the other acts on the bill was a Doors tribute band.

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Related: Interview: Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Between Heaven and Earth, Mojo rising, More more >
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