like I need a hole in my head." - "Teen Angst" by Cracker
Over the last decade, there has been overabundance of archival live material from The Doors so the key question with this release is whether the world needs yet another Doors' live album.
While the other Doors live albums have all been previously unreleased (commercially), Live at the Bowl has an interesting heritage as this July 5, 1968 performance was originally released as a 22 minutes / seven track mini-album in the late 80's and appeared to be just a teaser for the fourteen track VHS recording of the same show. This new release takes the show to 66 minutes / twenty tracks but there are a couple of caveats that need to be noted. First is that listing twenty tracks is somewhat deceiving as some of these tracks are spoken word/poetry interludes within a song ("Horse Latitudes", "A Little Game", "The Hill Dweller") and other tracks are just song snippets: "The End (Segue") is a nice intro to "The End" but certainly not a stand-alone track, "Light My Fire (Reprise)" is just a few brushed keyboard notes as the band moves into "The Unknown Soldier" and "The Wasp (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)" never gets past Morrison's spoken word intro before going into "Hello I Love You". Lastly, audio purists may cringe that Morrison's vocals on "When The Music's Over", "The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)" and "Hello I Love You" weren't recorded due to technical difficulties so vocals have been cut in from the Absolutely Live recordings.
On a positive note - the band sounds in top form and the recording is crystal clear. The 'sonic brilliance' immediately caught my ear and the separation between the individual instruments and vocals allows you to clearly hear every note and every nuance. Each of the band members have their moment to shine and Morrison, for the most part, stays on point and delivers spot-on vocals without heading into any of the ragged, free-form rants that made some the band's other live albums (Live in Pittsburgh 1970 comes immediately to mind) sound like complete train wrecks. This isn't a 'by the books' recording though as the band adds some great improvisations and flourishes to the songs. Morrison apparently took LSD before going on which seemed to kick in toward the end of the set and he seems to have some fun with "Unknown Solider" and god only knows if he truly confused a grasshopper and a moth during the free-form section of "The End".
(Note: this are old YouTube video which, given their age, have to be from the original release of "Live at the Hollywood Bowl". This new release is supposed to look infinitely better.)
Getting back on point to my opening question - this album offers something different to Doors' fans so it doesn't look like a "cash grab" rehash. Most of the recent Doors archival material has been from the band's 1970 tour and I couldn't find any shows in the band's Wikipedia discography that were from 1968. Lastly, the sound quality is amazing...if the LA Woman reissue sounded this good, I might have written a different review.