Classic Albums: The Doors - The Doors

Classic Albums: The Doors - The Doors

The Doors
Director: Bob Smeaton Cast: The Doors
The Doors
, Ray Manzarek
Ray Manzarek
, Robby Krieger
Robby Krieger
Bob Smeaton


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Where The Doors and Janis Joplin were underexposed in terms of rare tracks and the availability of film/video to the masses outside of underground and bootleg recordings, the new millennium has seen a rush of product to the marketplace, especially from The Doors with their own Bright Midnight Records releases. This DVD, taken from the "Classic Albums" series broadcast on VH-1 and the BBC worldwide, is masterfully directed by Bob Smeaton whose sterling résumé includes Festival Express and The Beatles Anthology, along with "Classic Album" releases from The Who, Elton John, Lou Reed and others. Editor Julian Caidan does a fine job with Smeaton generating the montage of visual information to go along with the story of The Doors formation, emergence, the band getting signed - all the elements that build up to telling the tale of their self-titled first album. With footage and stills from a variety of sources eight of the eleven songs get the "under review" treatment including a portion of a black and white interview with Jim Morrison adding to the story of the composition "End Of The Night"; the demo of that song played in the first 12 minutes of the narrative, the full overview 38 minutes into the disc. Henry Rollins and Perry Farrell giving their opinion about the group is not as weighty, or necessary, as road crew/manager Bill Siddons, Paul Ferrara - friend and filmmaker from college with Jim and Ray at the UCLA film school in 1964 - and Michael McClure, poet perhaps best known for co-writing Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz," so for the most part the participants are vital and their intriguing stories are of great interest. Original Doors producer, the late Paul Rothchild, is conspicuous in his absence, an important figure in the group's history, his contribution is not detailed as fully as it could be. Billy James from Columbia Records signed the band early on for six months, only to find their art turned down by some of the "surf music" A & R men at Columbia, but it is the utilization of these "other voices" alongside Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore which brings the story of the group's signing to light, stories which have been heard time and again by the hardcore fans. It is interesting getting them simultaneously from the individual Doors in this setting, and perfect for the casual fans inquisitive about this entity that is indellibly fixed on classic rock radio. Not only does engineer and latter-day producer Bruce Botnick isolate individual musician performances from the album's multi-track on songs like "Break On Through (To the Other Side)," the director has those sounds segue into John Densmore drumming and explaining his bossa nova beat, back to the multi-track source tape and then into Ray Manzarek performing the keyboard bass live for this DVD. Manzarek's animated story telling is not to be overlooked, the keyboardist very open to telling his story and always doing so with a flair for the spectacular and a devotion to the myth. As this album is a true - not manufactured - classic, these fly-on-the-wall moments give an effective history of the individual songs. Viewing the quiet and usually reserved Robby Krieger's utilization of a Paul Butterfield riff and morphing it with a tempo change into one of many Doors signature tunes may sound on paper like classroom instruction for musicians, but the pacing is excellent and the story keeps flowing, engineer Botnick baring Morrison's voice from the original tapes to reveal the drug references. "Crystal Ship" is also tastefully explored with an a capella opening by virtue of the vocal isolation, that solo then slipping into the film of the song featuring the entire group. Similar musical recollections as on "Soul Kitchen" start with Krieger playing his James Brown horn section on guitar and Manzarek's new keyboards being performed under the naked Morrison vocal from the tape. A photo of session bassist and Elektra labelmate from the band Bread, Larry Knechtel, is displayed as Botnick brings up the hybrid mix of Manzarek's keyboard bass pumping alongside Knechtel's stringed instrument. The forty minutes or so of 12 additional bonus tracks are delicious with Botnick bringing "Moonlight Drive" demos to light, the song ending up on the cutting room floor until the release of their second disc, Strange Days. Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore's recollections that didn't make the original fifty minutes aired on television are choice bonus cuts for true Doors fans, the entire project as lovingly produced as director Smeaton's efforts on The Beatles Anthology.

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Product Details

Release Date: 04/22/2008
UPC: 0801213024391
Original Release: 2008
Source: Eagle Rock Ent
Region Code: 0
Time: 1:28:00
Sales rank: 49,355

Special Features

Additional & extended interview material not included in the broadcast version; New instrumental demonstrations of songs from the album with Robby Krieger playing slide and flamenco guitar, Ray Manzarek performing the solo from "Light My Fire" and John Densmore showing his drum techniques; The story behind "Moonlight Drive," which was cut from the album and later appeared in a different arrangement on the second album "Strange Days"

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Doors Actor
Ray Manzarek Participant
Robby Krieger Participant
John Densmore Participant
Bill Siddons Participant
Michael McClure Participant
Jac Holzman Participant
Henry Rollins Participant
Perry Farrell Participant
Jim Ladd Participant
Ben Fong Torres Participant
Bruce Botnick Participant

Technical Credits
Bob Smeaton Director
Jeff Jampol Co-producer
Geoff Kempin Executive Producer
Jamie Rugge-Price Executive Producer
Terry Shand Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Classic Albums: The Doors - The Doors
1. Intro [12:58]
2. Break On Through (To the Other Side) [4:32]
3. The Crystal Ship [3:46]
4. Back Door Man [3:25]
5. Soul Kitchen [3:33]
6. Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) [2:12]
7. Light My Fire [7:27]
8. End of the Night [3:20]
9. The End [8:43]

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