October 1, 2004

The Doors

Live in Europe 1968
If you devour everything about the Doors, then Live in Europe will help you sate your collectivist yearnings quite nicely. But if you're a Doors neophyte seeking tangible proof about the band's mythic celebration of the Dionysian creed, this ain't the altar at which you want to worship. It's a nice, good-sounding document of a moment in time, and the intro by former Jefferson Airplane mates Grace Slick and Paul Kantner puts the whole '68 tour in context (the two bands co-headlined). And yet, the guy you really need to dissect-that beautiful dangerous poetic Jim Morrison fella-is usually either bombed, disinterested, distracted, dorky, or mostly dead throughout much of the action.

To be fair, there are a few transcendent moments when his brooding sexuality, liquid voice, and feral theatricality shoot right through to the essence of why people go bat wacko over charismatic superstars. But, of course, he ruins it all within minutes by channeling one or more of the vibes described earlier. Frustrating. Then again, if you're brave enough to revisit an era when true artists could be true artists-meaning, basically, that said artisans would follow their muses without giving two hoots about selling records and t-shirts, making nice with corporate sponsors and media peoples, or doing what you and I expected them to do-then Live in Europe is one hell of a seminar on the poetry of freedom. Feed your head. Eagle Vision.

-Michael Molenda

Tom Dowd &the Language of Music

This excellent feature-length documentary details the extraordinary life and work of the late Tom Dowd, the man behind some of the greatest music recorded in the latter-half of the 20th Century. Tracing the visionary engineer and producer's life from his early scientific training, through his pioneering work with stereo and 8-track recording, to his later adaptation to modern digital technologies, the film presents both Dowd's own observations and those of the many people affected by his work. There's historical footage and/or recent interviews with artists such as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton and Cream, Les Paul, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, the Allman Brothers Band, Phil Ramone, and many other musical luminaries. The DVD contains lots of footage not included in the original film, as well as a 5.1 mix and other bonus material. This is a must see for any musician interested in the history of recording. Palm Pictures.

-Barry Cleveland  

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