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The Doors The Doors
Album: London Fog 1966
Label: Rhino
Tracks: 9

The London Fog was an LA (Sunset Strip) dive bar located a short distance from the rather more famous Whisky À Go-Go. In May 1966, then-completely-unknown four-piece The Doors (Jim Morrison, played The London Fog shortly before the band was to record its legendary, eponymous debut LP for Elektra. Incredibly, a recording of that gig (taped from the audience) has very recently been unearthed, and the seven numbers they played are released here for the first time on a special limited-edition boxed-set containing the music on both a CD and a 10-inch vinyl disc that has the look of a test pressing, together with 8x10 reprints of five photos taken at that gig, a collection of memorabilia/ephemera, a historical essay and a separate liner note. The latter reminiscence comes courtesy of the Whisky's talent booker Ronnie Haran-Mellen, who booked them as permanent house band for his club on the strength of their London Fog performance (which led to their being signed by Elektra).

So - do we have a show-stopping live set that justifies the all the publicity? Well, yes, largely so. The set-list consists of a mix of blues covers with early versions of self-penned numbers. The chief item of interest is probably You Make Me Real, a Doors original that wouldn't surface on an official studio album release until Morrison Hotel some four years later, towards the end of their career. The other original given an early outing here is Strange Days (the title song of the band's second studio album), a song which certainly points the way towards the Doors' potent melding of soulful beat and modish psych that was to become their trademark; this is one of the very few known live recordings of this song. The remainder of the set - aside from two very brief spells of tuning-up, comprises blues standards given the Doors workover. There's Muddy Waters' Hoochie Coochie Man and Rock Me, Big Joe Williams' Baby, Please Don't Go (which Van Morrison and Them had taken into the UK charts in 1964), the Little Richard hit Lucille, and a more obscure Wilson Pickett number Don't Fight It. These covers are fiery and raw, with all the white-heat energy of this band making a name for themselves.

Hardcore Doors fans will snap this desirable set up eagerly I suspect, but retailing at around £40 it's probably beyond the reach of many others.

Next up in the series of 50th-anniversary Doors releases will be a 3-CD deluxe edition of the band's aforementioned hugely influential debut LP, due at the end of March. This set will also include a historic live show from March 1967.

David Kidman