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Albums Of The Week: The Doors | Live At The Matrix 1967: The Original Masters

If these primo club tapes of a pre-fame Jimbo & co. don't light your fire, nothing will.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:The Doors were a few months away from stardom in March 1967 when they played five sparsely attended shows at a small club in San Francisco called The Matrix. These uninhibited performances would have been fleeting if not for Peter Abram, who co-owned the pizza parlor-turned-nightclub with Jefferson Airplane founder Marty Balin. An avid recordist, Abram taped concerts at The Matrix regularly and his recordings of The Doors spawned one of the band’s most storied bootlegs. At long last, all known Matrix recordings, sourced from Abram’s original recordings, have been released.

Bootlegs of The Matrix shows have circulated among fans for years and were popular despite the poor audio quality of most copies. The sound began improving in 1997 when the first two songs from The Matrix shows were officially released on The Doors: Box Set. Even more performances followed in 2008 on Live At The Matrix 1967; regrettably, it was discovered soon after that all the recordings were sourced from third-generation tapes, not the originals.

Today, Abram’s original recordings have been remastered by Bruce Botnick, The Doors’ longtime engineer/mixer, for official release. The vinyl version of Live At The Matrix 1967: The Original Masters includes all 37 songs from the shows, sourced from the master tapes. Except for 15 songs released in 2017 and 2018 as Record Store Day exclusives, most of the newly upgraded live recordings are making their debut in the collection, including eight that have never been featured on any of the previous Matrix releases.

It’s easy to understand the enduring appeal of these vintage performances by Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore. Recorded only a few months before Light My Fire propelled the band to worldwide success, the tapes capture The Doors playing a wide range of songs, including several from their self-titled debut, like Break On Through, Soul Kitchen and The End. They also performed half the songs destined for the group’s soon-to-be-recorded second album Strange Days, including early performances of Moonlight Drive and People Are Strange. Some 15 sets of music over five nights at The Matrix gave the band time to indulge its love of the blues on extended covers of I’m A King Bee and Crawling King Snake. They even delivered an instrumental version of Summertime.

Joel Selvin writes in the collection’s liner notes: “They were young, fresh, and uninhibited, spreading their wings to fly. The tapes are raw, savage, rough around the edges. This is pure Doors: Unselfconscious and unspoiled.”


The Doors in 1966.