Real Life Rock Top 10

Special absurdity of the media present, ineffability of the aesthetic past edition


9) Spam e-mail from jaysonblair_ (March 20) "The only solution to Penis Enlargement." No, his book isn't selling, but who knew he'd fallen this far?


"46664 was my prison number": Nelson Mandela holds a benefit concert for his campaign against AIDS
James Dankert
"46664 was my prison number": Nelson Mandela holds a benefit concert for his campaign against AIDS

10) The Doors, Boot Yer Butt!--The Doors Bootlegs (Rhino Handmade) This four-CD box of 1967-70 live performances is not drawn from soundboards or well-made audience tapes, but from absolutely horrible recordings made with damaged equipment and originally pressed onto illegal vinyl that warped and splintered as soon as you tried to play it. Here, Jim Morrison can sound miles and miles away from the little handheld microphone that's picking up his messages--messages that feel like they're coming from a void, because you may not be able to make out a single instrument behind Morrison's voice. The band can emerge and disappear, as if it's playing a séance, not a show. But if you're willing to crawl through the black caves of this set, the result is a treasure chest.

Strange things happen on these discs, and especially strange things seem to have happened at the April 18, 1970 show at the Honolulu Convention Center. "Mystery Train" starts out as "This Train" (you know: "You don't need no ticket, just get on board"). After a buildup, the vocal sound overwhelms everything around it, and Morrison seems lost in the possibilities of the song, inventing words, ignoring the band's rhythm, erasing it with a huge scream. "Light My Fire" unfolds over 20 minutes. Guitarist Robbie Krieger starts it off as "My Favorite Things"; Morrison finds "Fever" hiding inside the big hit. "Love comes when you least expect it," he says as the music slows almost to a stop--but after that everything is harsh, wild, rough, unforgiving.

Throughout there is the sense that anything can happen, that the songs are less pieces to perform than opportunities for vision--usually banal visions of other songs, occasionally visions of music made with intent and found only by chance.

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