THE DOORS Footage revives band's energy

Although commentary lacks value, the live shows reprise their spontaneity.
To write off Jim Morrison's stage performances toward the end of his career as drunken, stumbling slurs is easy, but the latest DVD collection of the band's performances, "The Doors Live in Europe: 1968," discounts the stereotype.
The collection offers black and white, sometimes grainy video of 10 songs filmed during the band's successful three-week European tour in 1968 with commentary from Grace Slick and Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane, who opened for them. You've heard all the music before, but it is interesting to hear Morrison's famed improv poetry firsthand during a sweaty "Back Door Man" and see a pristine close-up while Morrison recites "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" before guitarist Robby Krieger breaks into an electric version of "Love Me Two Times."
The rare video of the band is the treat here. There is studio footage of Morrison and Krieger, along with drummer John Densmore, gathered around a piano as keyboardist Ray Manzarek plays. Another shot shows Morrison in a backstage dressing room and again crawling down the stage near the audience to flirt with a pretty blonde in the front row, offering her the microphone.
The video of Morrison manages to capture the legend, offering his brooding demeanor during "When the Music's Over" and his penchant for drama during "Unknown Soldier," while showcasing energy with his onstage jumping and writhing during "Light My Fire." Some of the footage will seem familiar to longtime fans, seen and recreated in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie "The Doors. There is also a well-known music video of the band singing "Hello, I Love You" in a European street.
Commentary not the focus
The only disappointment is the little insight Kantner and Slick offer with their commentary. There are a few memories of Morrison taking drugs in Amsterdam and passing out before that city's performance, leaving Manzarek to do the vocals and keyboards but little else of value.
The focus remains where it should be, on the archive footage of the band. The DVD ends with "Alabama Song" playing over shots of fans and surviving bandmates around Morrison's grave in France.
"The Doors Live in Europe: 1968" is on DVD by Eagle Vision.

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