The Doors - London Fog 1966 - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Doors - London Fog 1966

by Kevin Orton Rating:9 Release Date:2016-12-09

It begins with the sound of tuning. Then the band lurch into a sultry, unreleased, ‘Rock Me’. Revealing that as early on as 1966, the Doors were at heart a Blues band. The team of Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore have always been solid, it was their mercurial and charismatic lead singer who was always the wild card. Here is Morrison at the height of his powers.

Its great to hear the Doors tackle the John Lee Hooker classic, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’. It’s a fiery, agonized take that really doesn’t bear much resemblance to the version cut by Them, with another man by the name of Morrison. While its clear the Doors loved their Van Morrison, they were by no means slavish imitators. Like their version of ‘Gloria’ the band put their own original stamp on this Blues classic.

When they launch into original fare, ‘You Make Me Real’ (later to be heard on Morrison Hotel), it’s a much more Bluesy feel, with more ferocity than the ebullient version they laid down in the studio. This is more of a Garage Rock rave up. The word “fun” isn’t always applied to the Doors, but here, the band are doing just that. Nice to hear them cut loose with such relish and abandon.

Then the sound of more tuning. And I must say it lends a sense of atmosphere to the set. One of the things that can be said about London Fog 1966 is its complete lack of pretension. Something that occasionally mired the Doors in self-parody. True, that was mostly Morrison's doing, but here he's in fighting form.

‘Don’t Fight It’ never made it on to any Doors album and one can hear it's not really a complete song but a half worked out rave up. Manzarek doing his very best, ? And the Mysterians. A furious take of ‘I’m Your Hoochie Coochie’ man follows and it's refreshing to hear the Doors defy their dark, gloomy image and display a sense of humor and camaraderie. Something that wasn't always evident as things progressed. Here, Morrison even shares the mic with an unspecified vocalist.

‘Strange Days’ finds the band taking a stab at another original. 'Strange Days' has never been a favorite of mine. The recorded version always felt a little forced. Morrison darkly crooning out cryptic, fatalistic lyrics. It’s a tough number to pull off in a bar but they do with flying colors. I have to say I love this live version and prefer it to what they laid down in the studio. Without all the gimmickry you can really hear what a unique song it is. Based on their playing, the band clearly have a passion for it and it’s almost as if they're playing it in defiance of the casual atmosphere of the bar. A testament to how powerful and original the Doors could be. At the song’s conclusion, you can hear an audience member request ‘Light My Fire’. It isn’t honored. Instead they close with, ‘Lucille’ another classic Blues number. Robbie Krieger attacking the guitar with gusto.

While it may be called London Fog 1966, this set wasn’t recorded in the UK but in a Sunset Strip dive bar called, London Fog. This live document serves as a glimpse of the Doors just being a band, as opposed to legend. The house isn’t full, but the Doors are on fire and out to have a good time. Morrison’s pretensions and self-destructive behavior have yet to reach full bloom at this point. There are many other Doors live sets out there and this is unique for being unassuming. Not a big, momentous occasion, but just a gig on a Thursday night or something. It's atmospheric, it's short and sweet and a nice time capsule to celebrate the Doors 50th Anniversary. You heard me, 50th.

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