For many years, The Doors seemed poorly served in terms of live material. Even after their music had turned on a new generation of fans in the early 90s, it seemed the only way to experience a Doors live show was via the double ‘In Concert’ CD – itself a repackaging
of the out of print ‘Absolutely Live’ coupled with a couple selections from ‘Live At The Hollywood Bowl’. In terms of audio releases, there was no way to actually experience a complete show. It wasn’t really until the arrival the “Super Deluxe Edition” and box sets becoming far more commonplace that the band finally got their due with regards to live releases. From 2000 onwards, the Bright Midnight label set about raiding the archives and finally unleashed complete shows. Despite being of varying lengths and qualities (The Doors were never the most consistent of live acts), each release represented a fan’s dream, but he six disc ‘Live In New York’ – featuring every note played at four shows at The Felt Forum in January 1970 – went above and beyond what anyone expected.
With the release of ‘Killer’ in 1971, Alice Cooper – the band, as they were then and not just the man – had perfected a blend of hard rock, art rock and glam. Tracks like ‘Under My Wheels’ had – and continue to have – a destructive brilliance, while even the more throwaway material like ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ provided a great, rough hewn alternative to the closest British equivalent in the Sweet. Somewhere between, the dark artistry of ‘Halo of Flies’ and ‘Dead Babies’ transpired the horror schlock of the band’s notorious live show into the kind of audio nightmares that irked America’s moral guardians.
Perfection doesn’t come over night of course, and it had taken the band three albums to really hit their stride. Their 1969 debut ‘Pretties For You’ – aside from one obvious exception – bears absolutely no resemblance to their not too distant hit making future. The Alice Cooper of the late 60s were a chaotic art band and most of the music that filled their debut (released on Frank Zappa’s Straight Records in the summer of that year) is certainly closer to Mothers of Invention than the glam/proto-metal that would gain them worldwide acclaim.
Between 2016-2018, Grapefruit Records released three excellent box sets exploring the nooks and crannies of the British psychedelia movement. The three anthologies featured in excess of over two hundred tracks and even included items which even the more devoted psych obsessive hadn’t heard before. Having almost exhausted that particular avenue, the same label’s ‘Come Join My Orchestra: The British Baroque Pop Sound 1967-73′ from November 2018 provides an interesting side-step. In the wake of numbers like The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘For No One’ and the Stones’ ‘Lady Jane’, baroque pop became in vogue and all manner of artists – obscure or otherwise – turned to applying strings and flutes a-plenty. Not quite straight pop, but never as ostentatious as prog rock would make the orchestra, the seven year stretch bridging the two decades turned up all kinds of treats. While often favouring the singer songwriter over the pop bands, ‘Come Join My Orchestra’ is a great celebration of these sometimes forgotten musical experiments – and with seventy eight tracks ranging from the cult classic to genuinely obscure, there’s a lot here to take in.