The Doors: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970

Featured In Issue 229, July 2018

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Eagle Rock Entertainment
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Not Rated
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Murray Lerner (1970) & John Albarian
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The last known unseen performance of The Doors in existence, "The Doors: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970" has been completely recut and remixed from the original film footage and is fully approved by The Doors. The scene is August 30, 1970...frontman Jim Morrison's ongoing obscenity trial, from an incident a year prior in Miami, weighs heavily on the band. "The Last Great Festival" is taking place in England, which boasted numerous venerables. The film captures and showcases the essence of this poignant performance, as well as offering a snapshot of the era, with footage of fans (over 600,000 in attendance) tearing down barriers and crashing the gates to gain access to the event.

The Doors hit the stage at 2:00 a.m., delivering a set that further proved the musical power that marked them as a beacon of the Summer of Love. In this 84-minute Blu-ray, Morrison, organist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore traverse such staples as "Roadhouse Blues," "Break On Through (To The Other Side)," and "Light My Fire."

"Our set was subdued but very intense," Manzarek later stated. "We played with a controlled fury and Jim was in fine vocal form. He sang for all he was worth, but moved nary a muscle. Dionysus had been shackled."

The Doors made an enormous impact on the music world in their few year of existence before Jim Morrison's passing in 1971.

Special features include "This Is The End"––18:10 minutes of interviews conducted by the film's original director, Academy Award®-winning Murray Lerner with Krieger, Densmore and the original Doors manager Bill Siddons. Additional archival interview footage with Manzarek from 2002 is also included in the featurette.

The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, upconverted to 2160p with greater resolution and luminance, was photographed on Kodak film stock and sourced from a 2K master Digital Intermediate format. This previously unreleased concert was meticulously restored with current technology, color correcting, and visually upgrading the original footage. Illuminated by a mere red spotlight (the band weren't informed that they needed to bring their own lighting equipment) gave the show an eerie crimson hue, almost echoing the figurative weight of Jim Morrison's obscenity trial. The film appears to be photographed on 16mm or Super 16. Most likely the 1.78:1 aspect ratio is part of the restoration. Overall, resolution is lacking due to the poor lighting conditions, though, the close-ups of Jim Morrison do stand out against otherwise soft imagery of the stage setting. Still, the music is the focus and seeing the four members of the band playing is visually satisfying. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1 and LPCM 2.0-channel soundtracks were mixed from the original multi-track audio by longtime Doors engineer/mixer/co-producer Bruce Botnick. There's a noticeable difference in amplitude between these two versions, apart from the boost to the mid and lower ranges that the surround track offers. Fidelity is excellent throughout, with good separation amongst the band members and good articulation in Morrison's voice. The 5.1-channel version delivers a better sense of crowd noise and applause to the surrounds, while such is less energized in the stereo version. The fidelity on the CD is quite good, considering the band was recorded in 1970. The CD is nicely balanced in terms of the weight of each musician. This is a an excellent glimpse of a renowned rock band whose sound and lyrics are notably original and musical. (Gary Reber)