“You’ve seen this entertainment through and through…” Jim Morrison, The Movie
“No. you haven’t!” Jim Cherry
“The Doors R-Evolution” is a compilation of films and videos that follows The Doors from their earliest TV appearances in which they had little to no input of the content of the performance except for the song being performed, to where they gained the stature to release their own videos with full control of content culminating in the release of “Ghost Song” in 1995. I’ve seen these videos quite a bit and have used them from Youtube postings for Doors Examiner articles. When I first heard of the idea behind “The Doors R-Evolution” I thought it was a boring idea, that we’ve seen all these clips before, but you have to see the full clips remastered and the complete performances. They look as good or better than the day they were broadcast, even the antique looking American Bandstand appearance in black and white looks fantastic! If you think you know these videos from Youtube and bootlegs, all you have to do is take one look to see them through new eyes.
As I mentioned the videos in “R-Evolution” are remastered and are crisp looking. A good example of this would be the Doors appearance on Shebang which has only been available on bootlegs and Youtube and those look as if they were taped straight off of TV or recorded from an earlier generation of video that wasn’t up to speed and caused distortion and looked washed out. In “R-Evolution” it has been restored to full color and still packs the immediacy of the broadcast, although Jim doesn’t seem like he’s into it, obviously lip-syncing and missing cues.
The DVD moves smoothly from video to video with no introduction save a title card of the show appearance and date. If you do want to watch the videos with background information you can turn on the commentary track and hear anecdotes of the song, or the show from Robby Krieger, John Densmore, Ray Manzarek, Jac Holzman and Bruce Botnick.
While “R-Evolution” contains most of the videos from TV show appearances it isn’t a complete set of the full TV appearances. For instance, the Jonathan Winters appearance is missing the “Light My Fire” segment and the Smother’s Brothers clip doesn’t include “Wild Child” (although in all fairness, on “R-Evolution” you have two other appearances of “Light My Fire” and “Wild Child” represented in another clip). But there is one television appearance noticeably missing in “R-Evolution,” The Doors appearance on the PBS show Critique. Taped and broadcast in the aftermath of the Miami incident, Critique was the first sign the band was going to survive and the appearance puts The Doors best foot forward in presenting them in their own words in an interview segment, showcasing the music in a performance segment, and finally a panel discussion on the merits (or lack thereof) of the band. The inclusion of those first two segments would make for a good example of how The Doors learned to use the medium of film and TV as opposed to it using them.
I’ve already mentioned the commentary track that’s on the bonus features, but “R-Evolution” contains more than the usual amount of bonus tracks on a Doors DVD. There’s also the much sought after, and until now rarely seen video “Love Thy Customer” which is a training film for the Ford Motor Company that The Doors were commissioned to do the soundtrack for early on in their career (Robby thinks that they may not have even had a record contract at the time they recorded this). “Love Thy Customer” is a typical training film that does get long in the tooth but it is cool to hear The Doors playing on it, you can hear the distinctive notes of Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger in it. No Doors songs were used on the training film so there is no Jim Morrison vocals on that video. The bonus features include a nice documentary “Breaking Through the Lens.” Also included in the bonus features are a couple of outtakes showing them filming the Jim Morrison inserts for the "Malibu U" video (on the day of filming Jim didn’t show up and so Robby’s brother Ronnie stood in for Jim, making for some wonderful continuity errors on the hair length between Ronnie Krieger and Jim), as well as “Break on Through" from the Isle of Wight in 1970.
I don’t usually mention packaging in a review but the packing of “The Doors R-Evolution” is unique and I wish they had thought of this packaging earlier. The packaging of the special edition is in the form of a book that not only includes the DVD but also blurbs and factoids about the song in each particular video. For instance, the night of The Doors appearance at Bill Graham’s Winterland Ballroom was also the night their appearance on the Jonathan Winters Show was being broadcast, so in the middle of the Winterland appearance The Doors stopped the show, brought a TV onstage and sat and watched the TV appearance along with their audience! It would have been cool if The Doors had hit upon this way of packaging the DVDs before because it would have been nice to have a line of these little booklets on your DVD library shelf.
A new interview with Robby Krieger about “R-Evolution” was published yesterday by Music Radar.
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