Absolutely Live (The Doors album)

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Absolutely Live
Live album by
ReleasedJuly 20, 1970 (1970-07-20)
RecordedJuly 21, 1969–May 8, 1970 using a professional 8-track machine
GenrePsychedelic rock, acid rock, blues rock
ProducerPaul A. Rothchild
The Doors chronology
Morrison Hotel
Absolutely Live
CD Reissue cover
AbsolutelyLive TheDoorsalbum.jpg
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 stars[1]
Christgau's Record GuideB[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2.5/5 stars[3]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music2/5 stars[4]

Absolutely Live is the first live album by American rock band the Doors, released July 20, 1970 by Elektra Records. The double album features tracks recorded at concerts held between July 1969 at the Aquarius Theater in Hollywood and May 1970 at the Cobo Arena in Detroit. The album included the first full release of the performance piece "Celebration of the Lizard" and several other tracks that had not previously appeared on any official Doors release. At one point, lead singer Jim Morrison can be heard alluding to his prior arrest at a performance in Miami on March 1, 1969. The album peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200 in September 1970.

The album was first issued on CD in 1991, as part of the two-disc live compilation album In Concert, and was reissued as a single disc by Elektra in 1996, featuring new artwork different from the original LP. The album was reissued on 180 gram vinyl in its original double LP format and original artwork by Rhino Records in 2010, in both the U.S. and UK.[5][6]


Many shows were recorded during the band's 1970 Roadhouse Blues Tour to create the Absolutely Live album. The Doors' producer and longtime collaborator Paul A. Rothchild claimed to have painstakingly edited the album from many different shows to create one cohesive concert. According to Rothchild, the best part of a song from one performance may have been spliced together with another part of the same song from another performance, in an attempt to create "the ultimate concert." Rothchild said, "I couldn't get complete takes of a lot of songs, so sometimes I'd cut from Detroit to Philadelphia in mid-song. There must be 2,000 edits on that album."[7] However, most of the tracks were taken from the Doors' performances at the Felt Forum in New York City on January 17 and 18, 1970.

In 2000, the Bright Midnight record company (Rhino/Elektra/Warner group) began releasing all of the uncut shows that had been recorded for the Absolutely Live album.[8] Spanning from July 1969 to May 1970, these releases consisted of: Live at the Aquarius Theatre (1969); Live in New York (1970); Live in Boston 1970; Live in Philadelphia '70; Live in Pittsburgh 1970; and Live in Detroit (1970).

Absolutely Live marks the first release of the Doors' performance piece "Celebration of the Lizard" in its entirety, which had originally been attempted in the studio during the Waiting for the Sun sessions but was eventually abandoned. The album also included several new songs which had not appeared on any Doors album up to that point, namely "Love Hides," "Build Me a Woman," "Universal Mind," "Dead Rats, Dead Cats" (performed as a preamble to "Break on Through") and cover versions of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" and Willie Dixon's "Close to You" (the latter featuring lead vocals by keyboardist Ray Manzarek).

The Doors' "Miami incident" is alluded to several times throughout the album, specifically with the house announcer's opening address, where he urges fans to remain seated with the threat of the fire department cancelling the performance, and in Morrison's spoken preamble to "Close to You."

Album cover[edit]

Morrison reportedly hated the album cover for Absolutely Live. He had changed his appearance dramatically since the band's early days, growing a beard and discarding his onstage leather attire in an attempt to overcome his "rock god" image, but was dismayed to find that his record label opted for an earlier photograph of him for the cover. According to Jerry Hopkins' 1980 book No One Here Gets Out Alive:

Originally the cover was going to be an effective grainy, bluish rear-view photo of the band on stage at the Aquarius Theatre where the included "Celebration of the Lizard" had been recorded. Elektra Records art department decided that photo wasn't eye-catching enough. A color photo of Jim, taken during the Hollywood Bowl concert well over a year before, was superimposed squarely over the existing front-cover photo, and before the Doors' office knew anything about it, the album was shipped. Jim was furious.[9]

In his book Krautrocksampler, the British rock musician and writer Julian Cope described the photo of Morrison as one of his "two favourite all-time images of rock'n'roll singers," with the second being an image of Can singer Damo Suzuki on the back cover of their album Ege Bamyasi.[10]

Release and reception[edit]

Absolutely Live sold poorly upon release, moving only 225,000 copies, half of what their previous studio album Morrison Hotel had sold.[9] Gloria Vanjak of Rolling Stone magazine wrote a scathing review of the album, singling out Morrison's performance in particular and referring to "Celebration of the Lizard" as "rancid".[11] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave a more favorable review, praising its "strong performances and audio," but concluded that "I don't happen to be into reptiles when the music's over, much less while it's on."[12]

In a later retrospective review, Richie Unterberger of AllMusic stated that "Ray Manzarek's organ and John Densmore's drumming keep pace throughout as Robbie Krieger's guitar playing show him to be as much of a force in the Doors as Jim Morrison."[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

Original vinyl release[edit]

Side one
1."House Announcer" (Spectrum Philadelphia May 1, 1970)-2:41
2."Who Do You Love?" (Felt Forum New York City January 17, 1970 1st show)Ellas McDaniel6:02
3."Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" (Felt Forum New York City January 17, 1970 1st show)Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht1:52
4."Back Door Man" (Felt Forum New York City January 18, 1970 2st show)Willie Dixon/Chester Burnett2:23
5."Love Hides" (Spectrum Philadelphia May 1, 1970)Jim Morrison1:49
6."Five to One" (Felt Forum New York City January 17, 1970 2nd show)Morrison4:35
Side two
1."Build Me a Woman" (Felt Forum New York City January 17, 1970 2nd show)Morrison3:34
2."When the Music's Over" (Felt Forum New York City January 17, 1970 2nd show)The Doors16:17
Side three
1."Close to You" (Spoken intro Civic Arena Pittsburgh May 2, 1970; song Felt Forum New York City January 18, 1970 2nd show)Willie Dixon4:05
2."Universal Mind" (Aquarius Theater Hollywood July 21, 1969 2nd show)Morrison/Robby Krieger4:45
3."Petition the Lord with Prayer" (Felt Forum New York City January 18, 1970 2nd show)Morrison0:53
4."Dead Cats, Dead Rats" (Cobo Arena Detroit May 8, 1970)Morrison1:55
5."Break On Through (To the Other Side)" (Cobo Arena Detroit May 8, 1970)The Doors4:46
Side four
1."Celebration of the Lizard" (Aquarius Theatre Hollywood July 21, 1969 1st show)Morrison14:25
2."Soul Kitchen" (Aquarius Theatre Hollywood July 21, 1969 2nd show)Morrison7:16

1991 CD reissue[edit]

In 1991, Absolutely Live and 1983's Alive, She Cried were repackaged and released as a two-disc set entitled In Concert, with the addition of "Roadhouse Blues," from 1978's An American Prayer, and two performances from the band's July 1968 Hollywood Bowl concert: "The Unknown Soldier," which had previously appeared on 1987's Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and "The End," which was previously unreleased.

1996 CD reissue[edit]

  1. "House Announcer" – 2:40
  2. "Who Do You Love?" (Diddley) – 6:03
  3. Medley:
    • "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)" (Brecht, Weill) – 1:51
    • "Back Door Man" (Dixon, Burnett) – 2:22
    • "Love Hides" (Morrison) – 1:49
    • "Five to One" (Morrison) – 4:35
  4. "Build Me a Woman" (Morrison) – 3:33
  5. "When the Music's Over" (The Doors) – 16:16
  6. "Close to You" (Dixon)[1] – 4:04
  7. "Universal Mind" (Morrison/Krieger) – 4:55
  8. "Petition the Lord with Prayer" (Morrison) – 0:53
  9. Medley:
    • "Dead Cats, Dead Rats" (Morrison) – 1:54
    • "Break On Through (to the Other Side) No. 2" (The Doors) – 4:41
  10. "Celebration of the Lizard" (Morrison)
    • "Lions in the Street"
    • "Wake Up!"
    • "A Little Game"
    • "The Hill Dwellers"
    • "Not To Touch The Earth"
    • "Names of the Kingdom"
    • "The Palace of Exile"
  11. "Soul Kitchen" (Morrison) – 7:11


Remote recording facilities provided by: Fedco Audio Labs, and Wally Heider Recording.


Chart (1970) Peak
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[13] 10
UK Albums (OCC)[14] 69
US Billboard 200[15] 8
Chart (2014) Peak
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[16] 31


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[17] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[18] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[20] Gold 200,000[19]
United States (RIAA)[21] Gold 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie (2011). "Absolutely Live – The Doors | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: D". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved 24 February 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  3. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on 6 January 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  4. ^ "The Doors Absolutely Live". Acclaimed Music. Archived from the original on 22 September 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  5. ^ https://www.discogs.com/The-Doors-Absolutely-Live/release/3039991
  6. ^ https://www.discogs.com/The-Doors-Absolutely-Live/release/2538129
  7. ^ Jackson, Blair (3 July 1981). "BAM Interview with Paul Rothchild". waiting-forthe-sun.net.
  8. ^ https://www.discogs.com/label/117030-Bright-Midnight-Records?sort=year&sort_order=
  9. ^ a b Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 318.
  10. ^ Cope 1996, p. 55.
  11. ^ Gloria Vanjak (1 October 1970). "Absolutely Live, Doors". The Doors. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  12. ^ https://robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?id=1420&name=The+Doors
  13. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4449". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Doors | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  15. ^ "The Doors Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 2014. 07. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  17. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2001 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  18. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Absolutely Live". Music Canada.
  19. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  20. ^ "French album certifications – The Doors – Absolutely Live" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  21. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – Absolutely Live". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.