Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: 'The Doors: R-Evolution'


D-Evolution might have been a more appropriate title for the new Doors clips compilation since R-Evolution starts with far and away its best clip. To give the band’s first single a bit of extra promotional pizzazz, Elektra’s Jac Holzman commissioned a promo film for “Break on Through” that’s like watching The Doors’ album cover come to life, the guys lip-synching in moody chiaroscuro. Shot on actual film, this is also the clip that looks best on the blu-ray, many of the others being TV appearances from so-so video sources. The Doors go-for-it in the “Break on Through” promo too, Morrison lunging at the mic as if he was actually singing, but they more often look bored during performances on corn-ball shows like “Shebang”, “Murray the K”, and “Malibu U”, in which the musicians mime on a beach-bound fire engine surrounded by vacantly grinning California girls while Morrison appears in disembodied shots filmed at a later date. The attempt to pass off Robbie Krieger’s brother as Jim in wide shots of the band is not convincing.

The crude band-made promo film for “The Unknown Soldier”, in which the musicians execute Morrison with their sitars and tablas as some sort of anti-war statement, and the ones made during the eighties, don’t even have the corny retro charm of the “Malibu U” clip. More interesting are the classic clip of The Doors doing “Touch Me” with full-orchestra on “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”, the opportunities to see them do the odder numbers “The Crystal Ship” (“American Bandstand”) and “Moonlight Drive” (“The Jonathan Winters Show”), and a mini-documentary of the “Wild Child” recording session.

Although the main feature is hit-or-miss on its own, an optional picture-in-picture commentary track with narration from Holzman, Krieger, John Densmore, and engineer Bruce Botnick makes it much more interesting viewing. Krieger and Densmore express good-natured embarrassment over the corny sixties TV performances (though are far too unaware of how bad the seventies American Prayer experiment is). I actually couldn’t get the video for the picture-in-picture commentary to work, but I’ll give Eagle Vision Entertainment the benefit of the doubt and assume the problem was with my blu-ray player. It is pretty crappy. Yet that wasn’t a problem, since the entire commentary has been close-captioned, which is a preferable way of experiencing it since I didn’t have to hear voices blathering over the music. The commentary is also available as a stand-alone bonus “documentary” feature for totally separate viewing. A more bizarre bonus feature is a twenty-minute training film from Ford Motors in which original Doors incidental music plays over examples of troublesome customers. Less bizarre are a clip of the band going through the motions of “Break on Through” at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 and some outtakes from the “Malibu U” show.

Get The Doors: R-Evolution at Amazon.com here:
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