By Gillan G. Gaar
As is usual with Classic Albums shows, all the main players are interviewed, including the surviving Doors, Jac Holzman (who signed the band to Elektra), and Bruce Botnick (engineer on all the band’s albums), among others (though one does wish they’d used more archive footage of Jim Morrison). What’s most interesting in this episode is that Ray Manzarek (keyboards), Robby Krieger (guitar) and John Densmore (drums) don’t just explain how the songs came together; in many sequences they’re sitting at their instruments demonstrating exactly how key passages came about.
Lead singer Jim Morrison rightly gets much of the acclaim as the band’s dominant creative force, but these sequences illustrate how each band member made key contributions to the group’s work, drawing on influences ranging from Ray Charles to Paul Butterfield to Latin percussion styles.
The episode is shakier when it tries to relate the album’s success to events of the day (making cursory nods to the war and student protests), and in discussing its influence; latter-day musicians like Henry Rollins and Perry Ferrell are brought in to address the latter subject, when it might have been more effective to enlist artists of the era to describe the impact the album had on its release. And some material will be overly familiar to Doors aficionados (e.g. the band’s appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” when they refused to censor the word “higher” from “Light My Fire”).
But it’s good to hear the band talking about its music, as opposed to the group’s legend and Morrison’s notorious antics (though these are touched on). And the bonus material is almost as long as the episode itself, running 38 minutes, primarily with the band relating anecdotes at greater length.
Any one interested in this landmark album should find this an entertaining DVD. www.eaglerockent.com