" Live in Vancouver 1970 "
Rhino Records

Blueswax Rating 6

Albert King meets the Doors! The good news here is we get to hear the great Albert King jamming with the Doors on four blues tunes. The bad news is that the recording quality sounds like the microphones used were down the hall or somewhere in the bathroom facilities. Yes, it's pretty weak. Oddly enough, the band instruments sound fairly decent, but Jim Morrison's vocals are glaringly thin and tinny.

Side One versions of "Roadhouse Blues," "Alabama Song," "Back Door Man," "Five to One," "When the Music's Over," and "Love Me Two Times" don't conjure up any rational reasoning to purchase this two-CD issue. They don't sound much different than previous renditions, nor are they jamming, but the four guest spots with Albert King work somewhat well.

Morrison introduces King saying, "You all get off to the great sounds of Albert King, and we're honored to have him come out and join us for a little jam session for a little while. It's a great pleasure for us. Are you ready? We're going to play some blues for you."

First up is "Little Red Rooster," where Albert is incorrectly credited with playing slide guitar. Albert's guitar does the guitar introduction, but it's immediately apparent that the band is not comfortable sliding into the blues pocket. Morrison's over-the-top vocals just don't work, especially with his "Dogs begin to bark" barking. Ray Manzarek's keyboards are weird, but Albert comes to the rescue and takes over with a biting solo that tempers the band. It's Robby Krieger who supplies the slide guitar, and he's way out of tune. Plus Albert's not offering any rhythm guitar support.

Morrison rolls into "Money," and it's Albert romping on the first instrumental passage. Krieger follows, and it's better than his previous "Little Red Rooster" break, but in the end the whole thing becomes unglued, falls apart, and is disjointed. King introduces the opening licks of "Rock Me," but Morrison's vocals destroy the mood. He miscues the lyrics, and instead tries to adlib and improvise.

The finale for King Albert is actually a tasty take of "Who Do You Love," which starts with an unusual drumbeat. Then Manzarek finds the pocket, Krieger slides, King improvises smartly here, and the tune solidifies. It's finally here that the King/Doors segment coagulates. The groove boils and cooks, especially when Albert starts to wail. By the way, Albert King never gets a chance to sing which undoubtedly would have created an entirely different vibe, but we'll take his signature sound on guitar even though Morrison's ramblings and screams are (at times) appalling. Kudos to Morrison who calls out, "Let's have a hand for Albert King," and goes on to say, "Man, that was fun."

Disc Two contains the more stretch-out tracks starting with the a cappella spoken words of "Petition the Lord with Prayer" that instantly segues into a seventeen-minute "Light My Fire." It's Manzarek's time to shine, dazzling on the keys as the band takes the tempo down and Krieger delivers a strong solo, shifting into "My Favorite Things" and well into the oblivion - very nice, and by far the band's best and most cohesive performance of the evening. Morrison changes the mood singing the lyrics to "Summertime," "Saint James Infirmary," and "Fever," with other improvised vocal ramblings, all of this is sung over the "Light My Fire" vamp, culminating in the familiar "Light My Fire" lyrics. The only other tune on Disc Two two is "The End," with more spontaneous words from Morrison. Fifteen or so minutes into "The End," the instrumental chaos intensifies with one last horrific shriek of guttural madness from Morrison's pipes, and a collision-like instrumental crash. Nearly twenty minutes later, there's one last chorus, and it happily ends subtlety. "This is the End..." Amen for that!

In summary, this two-disc set is best suited for Doors fans and to those who are curious to hear Albert King jamming with the band. The packaging is a bit flimsy, but serves the purpose, though it would have been nice to have some quotes from Doors' surviving band members, and perhaps King about their four-tune collaboration. Last, but not least, where are the tracks' times? Rhino all too often leaves track lengths out, and I don't know why? Otherwise, enjoy this interesting and somewhat historic ride all the way to - the end!

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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