Picks and Pans Review: The Doors Live at the Hollywood Bowl

updated 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Certain rock groups, notably the Doors and Led Zeppelin, have continued to grow more popular long after they stopped playing. Among each new batch of high schoolers, there seems to be substantial numbers of teen-agers who adopt these bands as their own. The enduring fascination with the Doors is probably traceable directly to the fey personality of lead singer Jim Morrison. Unfortunately this concert, which took place three years before his death, gives no hint of the way Morrison could electrify an audience. When this show was filmed in 1968, he was 24 and rivetingly handsome but strangely sedate. He almost seems intimidated by the crowd or the cameras. During instrumental passages dominated by Ray Manzarek's organ playing, Morrison stands around listlessly. You look forward to his lighting a cigarette because at least he's moving. The footage is a mine field of rock music editing clichés, and there are too many obscure long shots. Yeah, the Doors sure looked teeny-tiny from all the way in the back of the Hollywood Bowl. Unlike today's boorish breed, the cameramen onstage apparently didn't want—or weren't allowed—to be obtrusive, so the performers seem distant throughout. That leaves the music, never the Doors' long suit. Most of the band's songs are little more than beat poetry readings punctuated by Morrison's screams. The one highlight is a gritty version of Willie Dixon's Back Door Man that segues into 5 to 1. This tape is interesting as an artifact. After all, you do get to see Jim Morrison sing Light My Fire. But, on this night at least, he never really generated any heat. (MCA, $24.95; 65 min.)

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