You may think you've seen this performance by The Doors on July 5, 1968 at the Hollywood Bowl. You may have a previous version of it on VHS tape, LP, CD or cassette. But until you see and hear the newly restored version of The Doors Live At The Bowl '68, you really haven't. (Watch the trailer)
Not only has the restoration made dramatic improvement in video and audio quality, it has made previously unreleased songs from the performance available for the first time. Technical glitches had prevented three songs from being included in previous versions, but thanks to the restoration process, the concert can now be seen in its entirety, complete with the previously missing performances of "Hello, I Love You," "Caravan" and "The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)."
Welcome to the big leagues
The Doors were in their third year at the time this concert was staged. They had released two studio albums (The Doors and Strange Days, both in 1967) with their third, Waiting For The Sun coming six days after this performance. They had been on several network TV shows, and were veterans of live concert performances.
But even for The Doors, playing the Hollywood Bowl was a big deal. So much so, even the famously rebellious Jim Morrison didn't argue with the Bowl's strictly enforced limits on how high they could crank up their sound.
In contrast to the loose, unstructured, improvisational performances that the band became known for, this one moves smoothly, with no long stretches while they decided what to play next as they tuned their instruments.
Since, as we learn in the liner notes by Bruce Botnick (who was responsible for both the original 1968 recording and the 2012 restoration) Morrison had dropped LSD just prior to the performance, the relatively smooth flow of the set is especially noteworthy.
Not their best
Morrison does have occasional drug-induced lapses, but as usual, guitarist Robby Kreiger, drummer John Densmore and keyboardist Ray Manzarek manage to stay with him. Although Morrison is very much into his part of the performance, he seems not to know what to do with himself during long instrumental bridges, as he either wanders around aimlessly, or stands still looking at the stage floor (or at something inside his head that only he can see.)
In terms of showmanship, this concert was not one of the band's best, and the performance, though solid and very well received by the audience, really didn't have any particularly memorable musical moments. You're more likely to remember when Morrison sees what he thinks is a grasshopper on the stage floor (actually, it was a moth) and stops in mid-song to kneel down and examine it.
The original release of the album didn't come until 1987, almost 20 years after it was recorded, and #154 was the highest it managed on the US album chart.
Still, if you are a serious Doors fan, and even (or maybe especially) if you have earlier versions of the album or the video, you will be blown away by the improvements in quality, and the resurrection of the three songs that weren't included in the original releases.
Release date October 22, 2012 - available on DVD, Blu-ray, digital video, CD, MP3, double LP
1. Show Start/Intro
2. "When The Music’s Over"
3. "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)"
4. "Back Door Man"
5. "Five to One"
6. "Back Door Man" (reprise)
7. "The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)"
8. "Hello, I Love You"
9. "Moonlight Drive" (watch it)
10. "Horse Latitudes"
11. "A Little Game"
12. "The Hill Dwellers"
13. "Spanish Caravan"
14. "Hey, What Would You Guys Like To Hear?"
15. "Wake Up!"
16. Light My Fire segue
17. "Light My Fire"
18. "The Unknown Soldier"
19. The End segue
20. "The End"
Disclosure: A review copy of the DVD was provided by Eagle Rock Entertainment via Kayos Productions. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.