The Doors may divide me, personally, more than any other band of music history. I find “Five to One” ringing in my head and coyly smile about subversions and revolutions… Then I see some douche in cargo shorts and a tie-dyed shirt donning Mr. Morrison’s face and I decide it’s all just pretentious, pseudo-intellectual posturing on behalf of a teen pop star… Or I find myself cringing at the sound of my dental hygienist humming along with “Light My Fire,” but then recall punk icons like Iggy Pop and Joey Ramone discussing how they don’t know if they would exist, if it wasn’t for The Doors… And I’m once again comfortable with their particular kind of swagger. The issue of taking a stance on The Doors is that they were actually both of these polarities. They were the perfect pop act for girls looking to accelerate puberty and boys looking for something that could make their pot-inspired daydreams seem like more than… well, pot-inspired daydreams. Their singles were very carefully crafted for excessive mainstream radio play (even when they were about serial killers). They were great pop songs, but they certainly didn’t make you feel cool. But then there were the band themselves… drunk and smacked-up, humanities-thinking, capable-of-high-art-making motherfuckers whose very goal was likely to destroy the society that made them stars… So where does that leave us? Well, they do have a plethora of singles that I never need to hear again, as long as I live. But, they also have bootleg live recordings that have Mr. Morrison and crew sounding as emotionally stable as G.G. Allin and as concerned with the “popular” as Fun House.
This Tuesday sees the release of The Doors: R-Evolution on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Formats, courtesy of Eagle Rock Entertainment. The collection boasts the band’s early TV appearances, in addition to music videos the band produced (mostly before “music videos” were “a thing”), much of which was previously unreleased. The video release posits the rock group as brilliant innovators of videography in the realm of music… a fact that I think is a bit overstated, but not exactly untrue. Highlights include the band bringing “The Crystal Ship” to American Bandstand, “Moonlight Drive” on The Jonathan Winters Show, and a posthumously produced music video for their incredible take on Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” Although the compilation certainly presents The Doors at their more accessible, they certainly never seem cheesy. In fact, the majority of clips have the band resembling the post-mod, pre-punk heroes of the alternative that they were and that so many contemporary “heroes” of the hip attempt so hard to emulate to a much less successful degree. (You may mock your parents’ love of “Hello, I Love You,” but how many of your Pitchfork-parading heroes seem to have not taken notes from this lot… and still fail to live up to it.) Those who are already comfortable getting off to the avant- art rock of Without a Safety Net (of the band’s 1997 box set) may find R-Evolution on the tame side, but for those yet to have a proper introduction to The Doors and those yet to cement judgments, this is the first music DVD of 2014 that I would recommend picking up.