Home Read Classic Album Review: The Doors | Bright Midnight: Live in America

Classic Album Review: The Doors | Bright Midnight: Live in America

Jim Morrison and co. are more together than you'd expect on this live compilation.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


I know a guy who had a ticket to see The Doors back in the ’60s. Too bad it was for the show after Miami.

As any Doors fan worth his black leather pants knows, Miami was the band’s Waterloo. It was the show where drug-addled lizard-king singer Jim Morrison — already skating on thin ice with his erratic and dangerously provocative onstage antics — supposedly went over the top and exposed his, um, shortcomings right there onstage in mid-set. After the show, Jimbo got busted. He got charged with lewd and lascivious conduct. And The Doors got banned from venues throughout the land. Including the one my friend planned to see. All together now: D’oh!

Well, nothing could really make up for not seeing The Doors. But for my pal — or anybody else who never got a chance to see Jim and co. in the flesh — the new Doors concert disc Bright Midnight: Live in America isn’t a bad consolation prize. In fact, it’s a pretty sweet deal: 14 songs from eight concerts in ’69 and ’70, during the band’s final blast of glory before Jim went to that big bathtub in the sky 30 years ago this week.

Included on this 73-minute epic are plenty of the band’s finest moments. There are the hits: Touch Me, Crystal Ship, Break on Through, Roadhouse Blues, Alabama Song, Love Me Two Times. There are the covers: Alabama Song, Baby Please Don’t Go, St. James Infirmary. There are long jams: An 11-minute version of Light My Fire and a riveting 16-minute rendition of The End. There are short, sharp shots: Two-minute blasts of Back Door Man and Love Hides. And of course, there’s Jim in full unhinged effect: Shrieking, howling, yowling, barking, bellowing.

There are also surprises. Surprise No. 1: The band is tighter than you’d expect. For a trio with no bass player, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger make a pretty formidible combo. None of them is doing a whole helluva lot, but somehow they weave these sparse elements into a coherent tapestry that wraps itself around Morrison’s throaty baritone. Which brings us to Surprise No. 2: Jim is a better vocalist than you’d expect. Especially since he’s probably on more drugs than Elvis Presley and Hunter Thompson combined. Surprise No. 3: The sound is way better than you’d expect. Most of these gigs have been available on bootlegs for decades, but none have sounded even remotely as clean and crisp as this.

The Biggest and Best Surprise: Live in America is just the tip of the iceberg. All the concerts — and a few more — are being individually issued by the band’s own Bright Midnight label. Some are available online. Don’t be surprised if a few surface eventually in stores. All in all, what more could a Doors fan want? Except maybe a live video of that Miami gig …