The Doors, ‘R-Evolution’ (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
This collection of performance clips by the Doors offers a fascinating look back at the old school methods a rock band used to engage in to promote their latest release.
The Doors were always a group with a touch of menace, primarily embodied in the smoldering sexuality of lead singer Jim Morrison. So it’s a surprise to see the group gamely trading sound bites with Dick Clark on “American Bandstand” (asked why so many good bands are based in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Morrison simply replies “The West is the best”) and dutifully making a promotional film of “Light My Fire” for the TV rock program “Shebang” that utilizes painfully obvious imagery (burning buildings, as well as attractive blondes strategically placed on a fire truck).
There were a number of different variety shows on television in the 1960s, and about half of the clips on “R-Evolution” are drawn from such programs. The oddest clip, from the New York City-based “Murray The K” show, Morrison lip-syncs “People Are Strange” in a deserted city square while the other Doors stand around him, lost without their instruments.
It’s not all kitsch. The promo film (as these short pieces were called before the advent of videos) for “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” is a straight performance, but all the more compelling because of it, with Morrison’s face caught dramatically in half shadow. “The Unknown Soldier” promo film intercuts war imagery with shots of Morrison being tied to a stake and shot and proved to be much too incendiary to be aired on television. And the 1985 video for “L.A. Woman,” directed by Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, creates a sinister storyline to match the fast driving, bluesy number.
Bonus features include “Breaking Through The Lens,” a short documentary, as well as a real curio, “Love Thy Customer,” a 1966 industrial film made by the Ford auto company, with a music score by the Doors. Just a year later, their breakthrough with the single “Light My Fire” would make it unnecessary to hustle for such need-to-pay-the-rent gigs in the future.