Classic Albums: The Doors (DVD)

The Doors

Eagle Rock Entertainment, 2008

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Since 1988, the Classic Albums documentary series has been exploring the making of legendary albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, and U2’s The Joshua Tree, among numerous others over the years; the Doors’ self-titled debut is the latest to be featured by this noted series and released on DVD by Eagle Rock Entertainment.

Originally released in 1966, The Doors – which most notably features the classic rock mainstays “Light My Fire” and lead single “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” – is still decades later considered an amazing debut for any group or artist in addition to being one of the best classic rock albums of all time.

This retrospective DVD combines extensive interviews with former Doors members Ray Manzarek, Robby Kreiger, and John Densmore as well as with producer Bruce Botnick to create a picture of the events that lead to the formation of the group and their first album. Throughout the disc, the interviews are interspersed with live and studio footage, plus a glimpse of the time when it was being recorded to put the music in a social perspective.

Co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek begins the DVD with thoughts about Jim Morrison as he discusses the formation of the group. Through his and Densmore and Kreiger’s ineterviews, the viewer is able to formulate a fairly good idea of how the Doors originated, their musical vision, and how this vision came to fruition on tape. Drummer John Desmore probably explains Morrison the most succinctly when he says that he was destruction and genius coming together. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The creation of the song “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” sets the pattern for the music portion of the album. John Desmore shows on his drums how he started out with a bossa nova pattern before moving it over into a rock beat, while Robbie Krieger gives credit to Paul Butterfield’s “Shake Your Moneymaker” for this track’s guitar inspiration. All in all, it’s a fascinating look at how the pieces of a song come together.

Bruce Botnick begins the musical portion of the DVD by exploring the making of the song “Crystal Ship.” He plays a twenty-second clip of Morrison’s voice without any background before cutting to a live performance, but just listening to Morrison without any instruments whatsoever shows the purity of one of rock & roll’s greatest voices.

“Soul Kitchen” was a rare Doors track in that John Desmore’s drums were overdubbed. Ray Manzarek then goes on to talk about the issue of a bass player in the studio and live. Larry Knetchell played bass on this track, and the early intention of the group was to add a bass player to their lineup, but they finally decided to have Manzarek play the bass parts on his keyboards when playing live but to continue to use session bass players in the studio.

“Light My Fire” almost began as a Robbie Kreiger folk song. Here, Kreiger picks out the song on his acoustic guitar as he presented it to the group over forty years ago, and Desmore shows how he put a Latin beat to the song, which served to change the course of rock history. Manzarek then talks about creating the keyboard introduction, which will go down in rock history as one of the most recognizable lead-ins to any song.

“The End” was recorded live without any overdubbing. Today, the song is associated with the film Apocalypse Now, but is still chilling even in its original form.

Classic Albums: The Doors is an interesting look at one of the most legendary rock groups. The three surviving members are all in their sixties, and it’s good to have their recollections recorded. However, this DVD is only for the hard core fans, and even then, how many times can the same person watch it? Thus, this is by its nature very limited in terms of audience. But ultimately, this is a memoir that primarily mines the memories of three men. John Desmore concludes the DVD when he stutters for a moment and then states “Ah, I’m grateful.” That wistful statement places the brilliance of this album in context of what might have been but will never be.

Rating: B

User Rating: A



© 2008 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eagle Rock Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.