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 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 Celebration of the Lizard and five tracks that had not previously appeared on any official release. Lead singer Jim Morrison alludes to his arrest during a performance in Miami on March 1, 1969. The album peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 in September 1970.

The album was reissued as a single disc set by Elektra in 1996 with new artwork different from the original LP. It was re-issued in its original double vinyl format in 2012.


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 the Detroit show may have been spliced together with another part of the same song from the Boston show, trying 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."[5]

Bright Midnight record company (Rhino/Elektra/Warner group) published all the uncut masters of all the shows recorded for Absolutely Live (July 1969 – May 1970: Aquarius Theatre 1969, 8 CDs; Live in New York, 6 CDs; Live in Boston, 3 CDs; Live in Philadelphia '70, 2 CDs, Live in Pittsburg, 1 CD, and Live in Detroit, 2 CDs). In fact, most of the tracks were taken from the Doors performance at the Felt Forum in New York City on January 17 and 18, 1970.

The album marks the first release of the complete "Celebration of the Lizard" sequence. It had been attempted in the studio during the Waiting for the Sun sessions but eventually abandoned. The album was a treat for fans because it included several new songs which had not appeared on any Doors album up to that point, such as "Love Hides," "Build Me a Woman," "Universal Mind," "Dead Rats, Dead Cats," and a cover of the Bo Diddley classic "Who Do You Love?" Truly reflecting the paranoia of post-Miami Doors' concerts is the MC’s address in Philadelphia to the audience where he urges the rowdy fans to remain seated in threat of the fire department cancelling the performance. Morrison comically alludes to the Miami incident in his 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.[6]

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," along with an image of Can singer Damo Suzuki on the back cover of their album Ege Bamyasi.[7]

Release and reception[edit]

Absolutely Live sold poorly upon release, moving only 225,000 copies, half of what Morrison Hotel had sold.[6] AllMusic states, "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." In a 1970 review, Gloria Vanjak in Rolling Stone magazine is scathing about the album and in particular Morrison's performance, calling Celebration of the Lizard 'rancid'.[8]

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)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/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 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 one track from 1978's An American Prayer and two from the band's July 1968 Hollywood Bowl concert, "The Unknown Soldier," which appeared on 1987's Live at the Hollywood Bowl, and "The End," 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)[9] 10
UK Albums (OCC)[10] 69
US Billboard 200[11] 8
Chart (2014) Peak
Hungarian Albums (MAHASZ)[12] 31


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[13] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[14] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[16] Gold 200,000[15]
United States (RIAA)[17] 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. Retrieved 31 August 2015.
  5. ^ Jackson, Blair (3 July 1981). "BAM Interview with Paul Rothchild". waiting-forthe-sun.net.
  6. ^ a b Hopkins & Sugerman 1980, p. 318.
  7. ^ Cope 1996, p. 55.
  8. ^ Gloria Vanjak (1 October 1970). "Absolutely Live, Doors". The Doors. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Albums: Issue 4449". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Doors | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  11. ^ "The Doors Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  12. ^ "Top 40 album DVD és válogatáslemez-lista – 2014. 07. hét" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  13. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2001 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  14. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Absolutely Live". Music Canada.
  15. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 18 October 2011. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  16. ^ "French album certifications – The Doors – Absolutely Live" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  17. ^ "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.