Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Doors - Soft Parade

This is one of the weakest Doors release, at least partially due to the inclusion of horns on almost every tune, whether appropriate or not. This works on some and on other songs they just sound schmaltzy.

Surprisingly, one number that doesn’t work in any way is the opener, “Tell All the People”. The horns come in and it sound like they are announcing a Roman leader rather than a Doors song and the cut just doesn’t deserve the pomp and circumstance. Considerably more successful is the album’s hit, “Touch Me”. Here, the horns work as accents to the beat and help build the intensity in a proper fashion. They add to the song rather than detract and do not dominate at all. Strings are added, as well, but also work within the framework and this is still a rocker. The sax solo at the end still has a r’n’r sound, too! And I found it especially hilarious that the band actually chants (albeit, low in the mix) “stronger than dirt” over the final accents, in a nod to that popular TV commercial.

Shifting gears totally is Jim’s “Shaman’s Blues”, which is a Doors-ian blues cut, with just the band playing – no outside musicians. Robby’s fuzz guitar slinking through the song is especially nice. I love the simplicity of the title “Do It”, but unfortunately, the tune doesn’t live up to the title, though it is good – just not as exceptional and revolutionary as the title might suggest.

“Easy Ride” is upbeat, but in an old-fashioned, almost vaudevillian, circus-y way. To me, it just sounds kinda goofy instead of rockin’. I do, however, think that the sinuous, sexy, blues-riffing of “Wild Child” is terrific. This is reminiscent of their take on “Back Door Man” – great stuff! The band is exceedingly schizophrenic in “Runnin’ Blue”, moving from a good, up-tempo, horn-infused rocker to a silly country hoe-down section. Luckily, the rockin’ sections are more prevalent but the hillbilly moments are jarringly bizarre.

The band creates a nice, acoustic ballad in “Wishful Sinful”, accompanied by strings. This works here as it is a softer number. This album’s exploration is “The Soft Parade”. This starts with Morrison’s “you cannot petition the lord with prayer” rant, moves into a short quiet piece, an odd, bouncy section and several other parts before winding up with a strong, r’n’r riff (even Morrison says “this is the best part of the trip” here) that Jim & the band jams over. This builds in intensity and forms a great tune – Morrison trading vocals with himself is particularly effective (a trick Patti Smith used effectively on her records).

Apparently, this album was a producer’s experiment with all of the additions of horns and strings – I’m guessing they were trying to be even more commercial, though I can’t imagine why, as they had already had several hits by this time. Maybe even the band was willing to try something new, which is commendable, but still, it doesn’t completely work. Not a high point of their career but still some good parts.