The Doors Smoke the Bowl
The Doors: Live at the Bowl '68
Eagle Rock, $14.98, 135 minutes
Long valued by many Doors aficionados as the peak representation of their powers as a live act, this storied show at the Hollywood Bowl makes its DVD debut in fully restored sound and vision glory.
Befitting its time, the camera work is pretty basic - long shot of whole band onstage, and side close-ups of the group (though mostly singer Jim Morrison). Highlights include "When the Music's Over," the extended jam on "Light My Fire" and the inclusion of lesser-known tracks like "Horse Latitudes" "The Hill Dwellers," and "A Little Game."
Unfortunately, a number of other tunes -- "Back Door Man," and "Five to One" included -- get more of a shortened medley treatment. And this version of "The End" is so long (and a bit ponderous), viewers may wonder if the title is a joke.
And for his reputation as a wild child, as a front man Morrison actually shows that less is more here, with most of his stage movements tightly coiled and stationary, forcing the audience to focus on him whether he is singing a lyric, reciting poetry or pontificating on the insects onstage.
Only when guitarist Robby Krieger "shoots" him during "The Unknown Soldier" does Morrison's body truly explode, writhe and shudder. According to the liner notes, he has just taken LSD before hitting the stage, and toward the end of the performance it's fairly obvious that the Lizard King is on an, um, higher plane.
In fact, since Morrison gets most of the attention, it's easy to overlook the contributions of the rest of the group -- Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and drummer John Densmore -- all solid musicians with their own signature sounds.
Generous bonus features include a history of the group and the Bowl, details about the show itself, and the restorations process featuring contemporary interviews with all three surviving members. TV appearances and a music video round things out.