Now Playing: The Doors – R-Evolution – ‘Under Television Skies’

by | Aug 6, 2017 | 0 comments

Flickering in the ‘rock room’ today is the 2014 video collection R-Evolution
featuring the Doors, always a band delicately balanced on the cutting edge, the
DVD immortalizes the band as they made forays into the media of film, while highlighting
their influential contribution to early music videos.
On lazy Sunday afternoons it’s always amusing to thumb through the ‘rock room’
archive of music video and documentary and pick something random out to have a
showing. Admittedly this collection was purchased and then waited patiently for
a proper ‘Now Playing’. Too much music in the line up is never an issue, it
also offers new music surprises on days like today.

It’s well known that Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison of the Doors both
attended UCLA film school, and because of this early and unique relationship
with movies, both men had a special awareness of the alluring qualities of
film. Looking at this awareness in conjunction with their flowering musical and
artistic abilities illustrates how the Doors were able to successfully and
originally blend music, poetry and film into an singular artistic display.

Manzarek referred to the Doors music as “aural cinema,” and always brought
attention to the panoramic visual qualities the band developed in their music.
This DVD/Blu-ray collects a number of allusive and unique moments where the
celluloid media captured the group at the best, their strangest and sometimes
at their most humorous and awkward.

While not containing a plethora of live performance footage — Doors fans know
that is a rare proposition….. R-Evolution nevertheless is a diverse
exploration of the numerous ways the Doors and their music was presented to the
public. The video clips range from the dark mystery of the band’s own
promotional films, to the oddly humorous television appearances on Malibu U
and American Bandstand. Some of these clips may be familiar to the
hardened Doors aficionado, but rest easy, there are plenty of rare goods that
will excite even the most knowledgeable fan. The collection successfully
straddles the line between fanatic and recent convert, containing enough
relevant classics to grab the uninitiated and enough new footage to keep
long-time listeners interested.

Doors veteran Bruce Botnick again lends his legendary abilities to working
out the pristine sound, in addition to a full video restoration that was
undertaken for the best visuals possible.

The footage moves chronologically, launching at the beginning with the familiar
shadowy promotional video for “Break On Through” recorded in November 1966, its
viewing a total contrast to the light fare being disseminated in early music
videos by groups such as the Beatles and Monkees.

The stiff and rigid Doors look slightly shell shocked in their appearances
on Shebang and Bandstand. hailing from mid-1967. While still
developing their persona and assimilating to the television medium, these early
views show the group working on building the image they aspire to portray. The humorous
Dick Clark interview with the band is must-see viewing, a moment thankfully
captured for posterity for our viewing pleasure and immortalized on this set.

Another highlight of R-Evolution is the color Doors appearance on
the short lived variety show Malibu U, where the band performs on the
back of a beached fire truck amidst bubbly, bouncing beach teens. “Light My
Fire,” indeed. Morrison was unable to make the filming, so the person you see
acting as Morrison with their back to the camera is Krieger’s brother! The
footage including Jim was edited in at a later date when he was available.
There are a series of rare outtakes included in the bonus features where
Morrison lip synchs his parts for addition to the already-shot video.

The complete and windblown street video of “People are Strange” from the
Doors’ Murray the K performance in 1967 is included here in beautiful quality,
with Morrison in full up-all-night mode as the Doors gather around him
instrument-less. The vivid “Hello I Love You” video from the 1968 European tour
is also here in its entirety, including a swinging and groovy dancing girl! The
original 16mm banned promotional film for “The Unknown Soldier” is also
included, and it’s as startling today as it was 45 years ago, now featuring
full vivid color and upgraded sound.

Again, while some of this video is not new, it is upgraded both sonically
and visually, making past appearances obsolete.

The video clips created during the band’s lifetime conclude with the
fly-on-the-wall “Wild Child” studio promotional film, the famous “Roadhouse
Blues” short, comprised of an abundance of priceless road footage, and the
more-recent 2006 discovery of the band rehearsing “Crawling King Snake,” dating
back to December of 1970. This black-and-white footage originated from the
Australian television show Get to Know. This clip finds the Doors knee
deep in the midst of recording L.A. Woman, and firmly entrenched in
their bluesy element. It’s the last known television footage of the original
Doors. A fully bearded Morrison acts the part, “singing the blues ever since
the world began.”

The rest of the collection is made up of posthumous videos created after
Morrison’s death and included on various home-video releases over the years.
The unique Strange Days music film from 1984 brings the album’s cover
art to life and is the most stirring of these final videos. A trippy and
slightly disturbing clip, it stands a notch above the late-era videos.

The “L.A. Woman” video, in my opinion, has not aged well and is need of a major
overall, but this miss is forgiven with the inclusion of the contemporary video
of “Ghost Song” — which finds the remaining Doors paying tribute to Morrison
through music and imagery.

There is real gold to be mined in the bonus features, which contain an
assortment of special added clips. The 1966 Ford Motors training film, Love
Thy Customer
, is perhaps the most eclectic of these features, finding the
Doors contributing moody incidental music to a black-and-white customer
satisfaction film. The music is tucked under the movie’s dialog, but can be
heard and is quite enjoyable.

A director’s cut of the circulating performance of “Break on Through” from
Isle of Wight 1970 is also included, and is a welcome addition to the set with
the lack of available footage from this time period. Finally, there is an
informative and enjoyable documentary called, Breaking Through the Lens
that expands on the available information regarding the collected films. All of
this is available with the option of added commentary by the band members,
expanding on the information with tales from each video clip.

Similar to fellow musical contemporary Jimi Hendrix, the Doors fit a
tremendous amount of artistic creativity into an extremely condensed period of
time. This era has been investigated and disseminated to the point where fans
have to wonder if there is anything else to be released. This recent video
collection has answered that question with a resounding “yes,” meaning there
are things always popping up worthy of release. On the flip side, I have to say
with complete honesty; by the end of this collection the thought crossed my
mind that this has to be the end of the line for the Doors on film.

As such, R-Evolution acts as a definitive statement of the Doors on
film, the punctuation at the end of a strange career. Curious fans who want to
see what the phenomenon was all about, or old heads and completists who need it
all, can find something of interest by cracking the historic doors contained
within this collection.

American Bandstand 1967

Unknown Soldier Promo Film 1968

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