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Given The Doors enduring popularity and continuing influence on a variety of musicians, it sometimes seems hard to believe that the band was only on the national stage for three years, from 1967 to 1970.  It’s likely that part of the reason for their staying power is because of their ability to adapt so quickly to visual mediums such as television and film, with charismatic, but erratic front man Jim Morrison regularly creating memorable moments.

The Doors R-Evolution, available from Eagle Rock, brings together a combination of nineteen early TV appearances, and the band’s own music films, which truly feel like something you would see on MTV, long before the concept of a music video was standard practice. Watching some of The Doors earliest television appearances, such as American Bandstand in July of 1967, the discomfort is obvious. Even so, they clearly understand the potential of the medium, and don’t look nearly as stiff as some of their contemporaries tended to.

By the time The Doors made an appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in December 1968, the band was clearly much more comfortable. Morrison delivered live vocals over a canned backing track for their performance of “Touch Me.” He did this at a time when lip synching during television appearances was fairly standard practice. Morrison makes a noticeable gaffe, missing his vocal cue for the second verse. However, after a brief pause, he recovers well. I would rather see a a true, live television performance, than a lip synched one any day of the week.

It’s finny to watch a promotional clip for “People Are Strange” in which Jim Morrison lip syncs while the other three band members hang out behind him without their instruments, doing nothing. In another clip, the band mimes “Light My Fire” on a very windy beach with Robbie Krieger’s brother standing in for Morrison in the wide shots. Jim Morrison had decided to skip the shoot, and close-up inserts were shot later.

This budget priced Blu-ray collection is a must-have for fans of The Doors. It’s packed with some fun and interesting materials, and the extras, which I will discuss later in this review are excellent.

Track List:

  1. Break on Through to the Other Side (1967 Music Film)
  2. Break on Through to the Other Side (1967 Shebang Performance)
  3. The Crystal Ship (1967 American Bandstand Performance)
  4. Light My Fire (1967 American Bandstand Performance)
  5. Light My Fire (1967 Malibu U Performance)
  6. People Are Strange (1967 New York Performance)
  7. Moonlight Drive (1967 The Jonathan Winters Show Performance)
  8. The Unknown Soldier (1968 Music Film)
  9. Hello, I Love You (1968 Music For Junge Leute Performance)
  10. Touch Me (1968 The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Performance)
  11. Wild Child (1969 Music Film)
  12. Roadhouse Blues (1970 Music Film)
  13. Crawling King Snake (1970 Get to Know Performance)
  14. The Changeling (1971 Music Film)
  15. Gloria (1983 Music Film)
  16. People Are Strange (’80s Music Film)
  17. Strange Days (1984 Music Film)
  18. L.A. Woman (1985 Music Film)
  19. Ghost Song (1995 Music Film)

Framed in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Eagle Rock’s 1080p transfer is a mixed bag simply because the footage is in a variety of conditions. While nothing is terrible, you’ll never really get the feeling of a true high definition experience. Still, the footage looks as good as it can under the circumstances.

The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track is solid, though largely dependent on the original source material. Most of the music has held up pretty well over the years, though it hardly gives your home theater the rattle a modern rock performance might.

English, Spanish, and French subtitles are available.

The following extras are included: Picture-in-Picture Commentary: Includes interviews with John Densmore, Robby Krieger, and the late Ray Manzarek plus engineer Bruce Botnick and Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman. Breaking Through The Lens a 47-minute documentary that more or less ties together the story behind how The Doors went about utilizing the visual medium. Live performance footage of the Doors performing “Break On Through” at the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival, restored and edited by original director Murray Lerner. Additional Performances and a decidedly odd Ford Training Film are also included.