For a band long celebrated as one of the great live rock acts ever, the lack of any truly definitive concert document from The Doors - on record, film or otherwise - has for decades represented a very large, gaping hole in their otherwise stellar catalog.
Not that there haven't been numerous tries over the years. But for whatever reasons (and they include everything from poor sound and film quality, to sub-par performances), The Doors have just never been able to produce their own version of something on the order of Get Your Yas-Yas Out or The Who Live At Leeds.
Live At The Bowl '68, released this week in multiple formats including CD, Vinyl, Blu-ray and DVD, attempts to remedy this by restoring a semi-legendary 1968 Doors performance from the Hollywood Bowl in their hometown of L.A. There have been previous versions of this show available through the years, but none of them have ever looked or sounded anywhere near this good.
The high-def, digital film transfer here, all but eliminates the sort of graininess that has often plagued other concert films of this particular vintage. The sound is likewise crisper and clearer than anything you've ever heard from previous live Doors recordings. You hear everything from the top layer of Morrison's voice and Ray Manzarek's calliope keyboards, down to the bottom end of Robbie Kreiger's raga-runs on guitar and John Densmore's rim-shots on the drums (especially on "When The Music's Over").
But the performance is most noteworthy, because it captures The Doors at the top of their game, during a period when their notoriety came more from their music, than because of the antics of their lead singer. Watching this DVD, it's actually quite a stretch reconciling the guys seen mostly running through a tightly played set of their greatest hits here, with the more notorious concerts that came later.