On July 5, 1968, rock fans flocked to the Hollywood Bowl to see the triple bill of Steppenwolf, the Chambers Brothers, and The Doors. As it happened, The Doors were in the process of collecting footage for a documentary that would ultimately be called A Feast of Friends. Since they already had a camera crew following them around, they decided to record their Hollywood Bowl gig.
Forty-four years later, with the concert film digitally scanned and restored and the sound remixed and remastered by Doors co-producer Bruce Botnick, Live at the Bowl '68 is another feast for friends of The Doors.
Among the many treats vividly offered anew are two previously unreleased performances. Long before he shaped "THE WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" into its final form on L.A. Woman, Jim Morrison recited many of those lyrics as a poem at the Bowl before launching into the band's then current hit, "Hello, I Love You." Unless you were there, you haven't heard these songs like this before. Despite allegedly tripping on acid, on this night Morrison was fully engaged with his audience, laughing and improvising lyrics such as his "Ode to a Grasshopper" in the middle of "The End." He thinks he sees a grasshopper on stage, creates lines in its honor, only to discover it was really a moth. Now, that's a psychedelic moment captured live for the ages.
As they discuss on various bonus feature interviews, surviving Doors John Densmore (drums), Robby Krieger (guitars), and Ray Manzarek (keyboards) remember the night as being a highlight of their careers. They rightly claim the band was in top-flight, very tight form that night. True, Krieger laments his plans to use up to 50 amps on stage was crushed by the fire marshal and was reduced to using only one. This resulted, to his ears, in a tinny sound for his guitar. I suspect few listeners will be as critical.
Beyond Krieger's distinctive rhythms and leads, we can also revel in Manzarek's impressive organ and bass pedal work. To pull off being essentially two instruments in one, Manzarek had to demonstrate the same independence in his limbs as a drummer. Take, for example, the explosive and dramatic Densmore as a model of hands and feet independence on drum heads, cymbals, and assorted percussion.