This was one of the first Doors albums I ever bought as a teenager. My father had several of their records in his collection (and original American pressings too!) so I was already well acquainted with the latter half of the band’s oeuvre at least (for some reason he didn’t own any of their earliest albums). My old CD of Alive She Cried has long since vanished for reasons I can’t remember, however a few years ago I managed to procure a pristine copy on vinyl, purely for nostalgic reasons of course, as if there was a part of me that sought to revisit those young bright visitations of my youth. And so tonight the old Marantz is calling out, but since the wife has gone to bed, it will have to be a head phone affair I’m afraid.
Now one of the first things that impressed me about this record was how clean and modern it sounded, because music recorded in 1960’s/early ‘70s had never sounded so good. Initially I put this down to mastering. It wasn’t until many years later I learnt that the band had re-recorded their instruments on several songs, in order to give them a clearer and crisper edge. Mind you, the LP was released in 1983, a time when sanitised production was the norm, and where every instrument was practically dripping with disinfectant. Not so this album, despite the overdubs.
Opening with a cover of Van Morrison’s “Gloria”, a song the band had been performing since their days at the Whiskey A Go Go, before they were famous. This recording was captured at a rehearsal made in July 1969 at the Aquarius Theatre in Los Angeles, and was for me, as a young lad, an absolute revelation. Here we have Jim Morrison at some of his sensual best, hamming it up mid-stream with a sleazy intensity. “Light My Fire” is a composite of different performances preserved over several nights, not that anyone would notice, thanks to the masterful editing of Paul A. Rothchild, who was obviously wanting to create an ‘ultimate’ experience for the listener, even inserting Morrison’s “Graveyard Poem”, a performance which had nothing to do with the tune at all.
Side one ends with an exciting as well as vigorous “You Make Me Real”, again from the Aquarius Theatre, only with new guitar overdubs by Robby Krieger (for better or worse).
Turn the record over and we have a rare rendition of “Texas Radio and the Big Beat”, along with “Love Me Two Times”, both of which originate from a T.V. show the band performed for in Copenhagen Denmark in late 1968. Apparently it was the discovery of these tapes in a Los Angeles warehouse that prompted the group to initiate a search to see if there might be other live tapes in existence which had gone missing during the Seventies, hence the release of this LP, on which can also be heard a particularly convincing rendition of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster”, replete with John Sebastian (who had to re-record his harmonica due to a faulty microphone) and some great slide guitar by Krieger. “Moonlight Drive” is another notable highlight (even if the band did record a new instrumental track), where Morrison’s recitation of “Horse Latitudes” is especially haunting.
Alive She Cried was no doubt a quality release, even if the title was in itself a tad misleading and not quite genuine. Krieger himself admitted at the time that they had made a few “improvements”, as he put them, to the original, tapes and corrected the odd minor mistake as required. Yet if the listener is prepared to overlook such musical misdemeanours, Alive… was in its day an important and vital reminder of The Doors potency as a living entity in a world that was becoming increasingly synthetic. Simple Minds may have been alive and kicking in the ‘80’s, but it was this album which instructed us that it was The Doors who were kicking into the establishment, challenging the status quo, and who would prove to make a far more profound and everlasting impact. Not to mention the romantic allure of the band’s mysterious front man, Jim Morrison, who seems just as much alive in death as he was when he walked the earth.