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The DoorsThe Doors Collector's Edition

Two Thirds of a great Compilation

by Jim Bray

Not to be confused with Oliver Stone's movie, "The Doors Collection" is a terrific example of how DVD technology can be used to showcase an artist's body of work.

This "Collector's Edition" DVD includes three previously-released Doors video collections, along with a bunch of newer stuff added as bonus material. It's a package sure to please Doors fans, even though I (as a Doors fan) would have included some titles that were omitted from this collection if I'd been asked to put it together.

Naturally I wasn't asked, and since I don't know what Doors classics have video footage available, this may be the best they could get. And despite my wish for more stuff, it's still pretty darn good.

The three titles included on this DVD are "Dance on Fire," "The Doors Live at Hollywood Bowl" and "The Soft Parade." The latter of the three is by far the weakest entry (despite it being my favorite Doors album), being a particularly self-indulgent effort with far too much pretention and far too little music. It also has the worst audio of the trio.

So don't buy "The Doors Collection" for "The Soft Parade." Buy it for the other two reissues and the bonus material, which are terrific.

Incidentally, a complete list of the songs and other materials appears at the bottom of this review.

"Dance on Fire" is a collection of Doors videos and/or concert footage and it's great, though I would have liked to see even more music and a little less of Morrison's poetic excesses. The stereo audio, which for the most part was recorded thirty-odd years ago, has come through really well, and sounds excellent. Universal Home Video appears to have used the original albums' recordings for these videos, which is a good idea since the Doors' records sounded very good right out of the box.

They've even done a good job of retroactively lip synching the footage to the sound...

"Live at Hollywood Bowl" is exactly what it claims, and the band played very well that night. There's too much footage of Jim Morrison, though I suppose that's understandable, but the overall picture quality is fine. Audio, too, is first rate considering its genesis, although I noticed some distortion coming from Morrison's microphone periodically. Then again, the way Morrison eats the poor mic during this performance, it's surprising it sounds as good as it does.

"The Soft Parade" ignores great songs, like "Tell all the People" and "Runnin' Blue," but gives us yet another version of "The Unknown Soldier (each segment features that song - good song, but one version would be enough). It also adds "Hello I Love You," and "The Changeling," which is nice. Unfortunately, the audio on this collection is substandard compared with the other entries.

The abundance of bonus materials includes an audio commentary by the surviving members of the band; I particularly enjoyed their memories of the Hollywood Bowl concert. There's also a section of Doors' memorabilia and photographs by Henry Diltz. These are undoubtedly wonderful touches for Doors diehards.

More interesting is the inclusion of "Riders on the Storm," a segment from drummer John Densmore's one-man show in which he reminisces about life and the band, and Keyboardist Ray Manzarek's student films "Evergreen" and "Induction."

Talk about Doors trivia!

Another nice bit is Robby Krieger's more contemporary performance of "The End," in which one finally gets the opportunity to watch the guitarist in action without him being overshadowed by Jim Morrison.

Even the liner notes are reasonably full, with a list of all the materials on the nearly three hour collection, some photos, and a short essay "Doors' film/video archivist" Rick Schmidlin.

On the whole, this is an excellent compilation of Doors stuff. I'd have preferred to see the cuts mixed and matched into a true "Greatest Hits" collection (though, admittedly, this would be difficult to do without breaking up the concert - and I like the concert the way it's presented), instead of three separate videos on one disc, but that's a pretty nitpicky point.

So if you're a Doors fan, get thee to your nearest DVD retailer and pick up this disc.

I'm really thrilled with this DVD because it shows just how well the format can be used for compilations. I hope to see many more discs like this, showcasing the collected works of all my favorite artists.

Are you listening, studios?

Dance on Fire includes:
Break on Through
People are Strange
Light My Fire
Wild Child
L.A. Woman
Unknown Soldier
Roadhouse Blues
Love Me Two Times
Touch Me
Horse Latitudes/Moonlight Drive
Crystal Ship
Riders on the Storm

The Doors Live at the Hollywood Bowl includes:
When the Music's Over
Alabama Song
Back Door Man/Five to One
Moonlight Drive/Horse Latitudes/Celebration of the Lizard excerpts
Spanish Caravan
Light My Fire
The End
Unknown Soldier
When the Music's Over

The Soft Parade includes:
The Changeling
Wishful Sinful
Wild Child
Build Me a Woman
Unknown Soldier
The Soft Parade
Hello I Love You

Bonus Materials include:
Audio Commentary by Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Robby Krieger
Doors Memorabilia
"Evergreen" and "Induction" student films
Henry Diltz Photographs
John Densmore "Riders on the Storm"
Robby Krieger's "The End"

The Doors Collection, Collector's Edition
from Universal Home Video
Dual layer DVD, 172 minutes, full frame, stereo (mostly)


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Updated May 13, 2006