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Mediocre performance, poor quality filming
on 29 October 2012
No amount of pre-release hype and predictable hyperbole from the Doors camp can disguise two fundamental issues with this release, ignoring the obvious fact that this film has already been released on VHS in 1987 and DVD in 2000: the performance captured on film is NOT one of the bands best performances; the filming is lazy and extremely amateurish.
It seems to have been ignored by most pundits and conveniently been written out of history by The Doors' post-modern aesthetic which includes "air-brushing" their original live recordings, but the raw footage used to create this DVD was originally shot for an unreleased film called "Feast Of Friends" - a so-called documentary about the band on the road. No one ever expected the complete Hollywood Bowl concert to be issued as a self-contained concert film in its own right without any explanatory footage or behind the scenes segments. And rather painfully, it really shows. Viewing the much touted (by surviving Doors members and hard-core fanbase on their exclusive Doors forum) new cut it is glaringly obvious how inexperienced and unskilled the camera 'crew' was. Yes, these people were also friends of the band and fellow UCLA drop-outs, but the extant footage primarily cuts between one distant long shot showing all the band on stage and close-ups of Morrison's face. Bear in mind that The Doors was a band and this was pre-Miami, why wasn't there more footage of the other three members? As it stands this has to be the dullest footage of ANY live artist EVER committed to celluloid. To be honest, considering the buzz about the venue that the surviving group pretends to feel when casting their eyes back through rose-tinted spectacles, it is incredible to think that not a single scrap of footage exists that even draws attention to its space. This might just as well have been filmed in the back of some side-street parking lot. There is no palpable atmosphere even with the greatly improved sound. The fact that The Doors were 'off' in their performance doesn't help the bands efforts to attempt to define their live oeuvre via this over-sold footnote in its live performance history.
Yes, The Doors are playing live and yes they still had Morrison at this juncture but that is about it. If you want to see The Doors at their best get hold of a copy of The Doors Are Open, shot at Londons Chalk Farm Roundhouse a few months later. At least the latter Granada TV document was filmed by professionals who knew what they were doing AND The Doors were really 'on' during those London shows.
As for the DVD bonus content, the new documentaries are a once-only viewing experience as they are an audio-visual advert for the film by a rather self-satisfied Krieger, Densmore and especially Manzarek. The footage was re-edited and restored with cut and paste sound (two tracks have no surviving audio!) from other live and STUDIO recordings, but whilst the near honesty of the process as described in the bonus features might get some other bands off the hook, The Doors are still guilty as charged for not releasing their best live recordings that show the band developing whilst they were more of an integrated unit and full of fire and enthusiasm - I'm talking about The London Fog and The Matrix concert recordings.
It's high time to stop peddling the same old second-rate material that first surfaced in the 1980's and start restoring and issuing the truly great audio and video that we all know exists showing The Doors in their absolute prime before Morrison grew tired with it all and became an unpredictable drunk.