DVD Review: The Doors Live at the Bowl ’68 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

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The Doors Live in ’68 DVD

The Doors were on top of the world in 1968. About halfway through their legendary run with lead singer Jim Morrison (prior to his death in 1971), the band had gone from obscurity to the top of the rock heap, releasing three hit albums, making notorious TV appearances, and becoming a top concert draw.

This period is perfectly captured in a concert film recently released on DVD and Blu-ray. Painstakingly restored, this release could very well be the definitive way to catch The Doors live at their peak at the famed Hollywood Bowl.

A lot of work went into this new version, which includes three songs—”Hello, I Love You,” “The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)” and “Spanish Caravan”—that weren’t included on previous releases of this show due to audio issues.  Thanks to modern technology, engineers were able to restore the audio, making this the first release of the complete Hollywood Bowl concert. The other tracks (available on CD, vinyl and digital download from Rhino) also benefited from painstaking audio restoration. This sounds immaculate—a vast improvement over the previous release, I’m sure.

And performance wise, this may be the best example of The Doors live currently available. Morrison was lucid, snake-like, scary, electric—all of the things his legend says he was before drink and drugs snuffed out his performance mojo, and his life, like a candle.

Of course, The Doors were about more than just their compelling frontman. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore were also in peak form here, bringing a fire and energy to the performance that was the perfect musical accompaniment to Morrison’s Dionysian flamboyance.

And the song list here is stellar, especially when considering that The Doors still had some great albums yet to make at this point, such as Morrison Hotel and L.A. Woman. But here you get a stirring rendition of “The End,” a jammy “Light My Fire,” and plenty of less-known but cool deep tracks from the band’s early LPs.

And beyond the improved sound, great effort was also expended to enhance the picture for this release. I wasn’t able to a-b this with the previous version, but I’ll bet it’s a vast improvement. I’ve seen lots of grainy, blurry concert films from this era, and this is much sharper, the colors vivid instead of washed-out. A very nice job all around.

Live at the Bowl ’68 is a prime example of how to properly restore an old concert for it to stand up as a current release. Need I say it? Every Doors fan should get this.

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  • Brandt Hardin

    Jim influenced my art my entire life with his macabre and surreal lyrics and poetry. You can see my portrait of the Lizard King I created in memoriam recently on the 40th anniversary of his death. It’s on my artist’s blog at