Monday, 4 March 2019

The Doors - The Soft Parade (1969)

Tell all the people....


Released July 1969

Possibly as a result of the zeitgeist of the late sixties, The Doors produced this, their most adventurous and experimental album, in which they dabbled in brass, strings and psychedelic backing more so than on their previous three albums. The album defies description in many ways and is widely considered to be the band's worst offering. That is probably true. In other ways, it demands several listens, for it definitely has an oddball appeal. For me, I feel it is better enjoyed listened to as a whole, as opposed to picking out individual tracks. Yes, it is a chocolate box of different styles and sounds, but is a lot better an album than it is popularly given credit for. It is a unique creation, really. The fact there is some brass and string orchestration on the album here and there doesn't spoil it, not for me anyway.

The sound quality is superb, as it is on all the remasters included in the 2011 Doors - A Collection box set.


1. Tell All The People
2. Touch Me
3. Shaman's Blues
4. Do It
5. Easy Ride
6. Wild Child
7. Runnin' Blue
8. Wishful Sinful
9. The Soft Parade                      

Tell All The People has definite Beatles influences in its orchestration and its Starr-esque drumming. Despite its experiments in brass backing, there is some killer guitar in there too. Touch Me is quirkily camp, being virtually impossible to categorise, to be honest. There is some great saxophone/drum interplay on it, though. Shaman's Blues is more recognisable Doors, with a deep bass line and a mysterious Jim Morrison vocal. I love the power of the drums on here and the organ is trademark Doors. I also like the staccato weirdness of Do It. The sixties organ-driven blues romp of Easy Ride is enjoyable too.

Wild Child, with its powerful, grinding guitar riff and Morrison's menacing vocals is one of the album's underrated gems. Runnin' Blue is a most odd number, with some country fiddle parts complete with early sixtes Bob Dylan-imitating vocals. Wishful Sinful is the other track, together with the opener, that really uses the strings and brass. For me it adds a late sixties, dreamy hippiness to the typical Doors rock feeling of the song otherwise.

The Soft Parade was the now traditional lengthy album closer, and it mixed madcap poetry recitation with medieval keyboards before giving us some almost funky, jazzy, rhythmic rock. All very "progressive". It is, shall we say, a "challenging listen", but it is certainly an interesting one. Like a relatively pleasurable drug experience (maybe - as a non-drug user, I can only imagine). It is a bizarrely enjoyable track, I have to admit.

You cannot knock The Doors for trying to change things a bit. The Beatles, The Stones, The Velvet Underground had all done it. What it did, though, was cause a bit of strain between Robbie Krieger and Jim Morrison. Those "musical differences", eh? After this album, the group reverted far more to traditional rock and blues rock sounds for their final two offerings. This was their final truly "out there" album, perhaps suitable to end the sixties with. Do not dismiss it without giving it a few listens. A drink or two may help, though...