What does it sound like?:
This recently unearthed audio recorded at the London Fog club on Sunset Strip in May 1966 is, we are told, the earliest recording of the band. It’s a small café club and the few people in attendance are often chatting away, oblivious to the future Lizard King’s charms. But even at this stage the trademark sounds of Ray Manzarek’s keyboards and Jim Morrison’s blues wail are present and correct. Robby Krieger hasn’t found his guitar voice at this point and his playing sounds tentative compared to the others. John Densmore’s drums are familiar but don’t yet have the swing he brought to the records, and he struggles with anything approaching a straight fours groove. The songs are mainly blues, with the band sounding reasonably well-rehearsed but not exactly gig-hardened, which is to be expected. Jim tries some blues harp playing but thankfully only on a couple of tracks. Their version of Hoochie Coochie Man gets the most applause. Strange Days is the only staple Doors track that would later appear on their second album. Even at this stage though, the song is well-formed, at least for Morrison and Manzarek. The other Doors original, You Make Me Real, wasn’t officially released on a studio album until Morrison Hotel in 1970.
The recording quality of surprisingly good.
What does it all *mean*?
If you are searching for meaning, you might find it in the collectors’ edition material. The music is available as numbered limited edition (18,000 copies) from Rhino/Bright Midnight Archives. Noted Doors engineer Bruce Botnick recently mastered the audio for this collection and the set includes memorabilia including a poster and the set list handwritten by John Densmore. There are also liner notes from Sunset Strip legend Ronnie Haran-Mellen, who saw The Doors live for the first time at the London Fog and then booked them as the permanent house band at the Whisky, leading to the band’s signing to Elektra. Also contributing liner notes is Nettie Peña, who was there and captured the audio on a ¼” reel to reel recorder. Peña also photographed the band that evening and five black and white 8×10 reprints of these unpublished photos are included in the Collector’s Edition.
Goes well with…
As a complement to the Classic Albums episode on the first Doors album, where Manzarek talks about how they got together in 1966 to rehearse and write at a hut on Venice Beach.
Might suit people who like…
Later Doors albums like Morrison Hotel and LA Woman