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The Doors: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970

by Jeff Tamarkin on March 14, 2018

Jim Morrison was still facing a possible three-year prison term stemming from trumped-up indecent exposure/profanity charges in Miami the preceding year when The Doors—who had multiple dates cancelled in the wake of the incident—took the stage at England’s Isle of Wight Festival at 2 a.m. in August of 1970. Morrison, by that time, was bearded and bloated and, with a sole red light illuminating the stage, he was no longer much of a focal point when the band launched into “Back Door Man.” Portions of their set, played in front of 600,000, have been released before but this new package, available in various visual and audio formats, marks the first time The Doors’ full set has hit the market intact legally. Ironically, it’s one of their most solid live shows in circulation. Although he is rather subdued, Morrison’s vocal performance is determined and free of manufactured outrage, and the other three—keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore—are at their improvisatory best. Doors epics like “When the Music’s Over,” “The End” and the extended “Light My Fire” emphasize the band’s musicality rather than the circusy spectacle of the past. Morrison may even look bored at times, smoking a cigarette as the others solo, but the show, the last Doors concert to be filmed (they would only play live a few more times before Morrison’s death), reaffirms their stature as one of the most unique of the West Coast ‘60s bands. The original documentary film, directed by Murray Lerner, suffers from the lack of proper stage lighting—the film texture is somewhat grainy—but the enhanced audio, the work of original engineer Bruce Botnick, makes Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 essential for any Doors fan.

Authors: Jeff Tamarkin
Artist: The Doors
Album: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970