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The Doors - The Soft Parade CD (album) cover

THE SOFT PARADE

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

2.74 | 194 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Time has come to review The Doors' fourth album, and, just like with the first two, I will do it based on the 2007 remastered version published by Rhino Records. (I couldn't do the same with WAITING FOR THE SUN as I had already written a review for it months ago, before getting the new editions.)

As with every band that has walked this earth, The Doors were capable of both delivering outstanding, amazing music but also of recording uninspired, weak, BAD songs. After a fantastic debut, an outstanding masterpiece of a second album, and a very good third one, maybe it was too much to ask from such a problematic band to give us another record of the same quality. We have to keep in mind that, at this point in the band's career, the actual recording process was already quite an ordeal to live through, with Morrison always in need of multiple takes and, worst of all, multiple days due to his stormy lifestyle. Not only that but the group as a whole had lost the inspiration and the innate will to create songs that helped them come with such great tunes as those found in the first albums. Whereas in THE DOORS or STRANGE DAYS Morrison, Krieger and Manzarek already had a lot of melodies (even whole songs) in their heads to work with, in THE SOFT PARADE, with tours (the disastrous Miami tour one of them), photo-sessions and publicity obligations, the time to write new material had been reduced to almost zero, the band being forced to do what many other bands do regularly: compose the tracks in the studio. While this may be normal for others, for The Doors, and specially for Morrison, was not what music was meant up to be, and thus the commitment for making as good an album as possible was nowhere to be found. And it shows, as, for the first and only time, we have individual credits for the songs, with Morrison and Krieger sharing about half of the tracks each.

The music is, overall, awful. The psychedelia, the acid-suggestions, the dark, colorful passages of earlier albums was left aside in favor of cheesy strings and brass. I don't dislike the use of such instruments per se, but it depends on how effective the results are, and in this case the results are, well, quite poor. Even Morrison seems to have lost any desire to write good (or, better said, interesting, as one never knows if his lyrics are really good or really bad) lyrics. And we have a couple of tracks that border on the atrocious, something unthinkable of in the first albums.

The 2007 remixes are, as always, fantastic in the sharpness of the sound. Never before has Morrison sounded so in-your-ear, you can practically hear his breathing, smell his alcohol-poisoned breath. There are a lot of passages where I discovered new guitar chords or keyboard figures that I had never heard before. The re-mix is a success, and I may say that, up to this point (I've still have to listen to MORRISON HOTEL and LA WOMAN), this is the best of the new editions in terms of clarity. The extra tracks are "Who Scared You" (an incredibly boring bluesy song), 2 versions of "Whiskey, Mystics and Wine" (more of a curiosity than good songs) , the previously unreleased "Push Push" (which should've remained unreleased, as it's utterly ridiculous and out of touch even with THIS album, the main music sounds like a version of "Guantanamera" mixed with Mexican-like screams a la Ranchera and nothing else, this is too bad, even for THIS album. I'm ready to give this the award for worst bonus-track ever, and that's saying something. ), and Take 3 of "Touch Me".

Tell all the People (3/10) And so the journey begins, with brass instruments and Morrison and Co. sounding almost like The Carpenters, but without the cuteness and the melody. This is not even a sell-out, as I don't know what commercial super-success could they achieve with such a catastrophic song, and usually, when bands sell-out, at least they manage to ACTUALLY SELL. Awful.

Touch Me (7.5/10) Again, brasses and strings, but at least this song has energy, is catchy, is somewhat interesting. It may be that any song sounds like Genesis' "Firth of Fifth" after hearing "tell all the People", but, honestly, this is enjoyable. Nothing really fantastic but at least enjoyable. Near the end the continuous crescendo actually manages to make this a good song.

Shaman's Blues (6.5/10) A jazzy 6/8 rhythm announces good music at last. It starts well enough, but then it loses interest, Morrison really sounds like he didn't have any pleasure while recording it. What sounded like a good song waiting to happen gets lost in poor singing and repetitive music. It's TOO long (even for The Doors' standards) Not awful, but not really good. Just a hair above average.

Do It (0/10) Finally, The Doors have managed to outdo themselves with probably the worst song they ever recorded (at least in albums, as we don't know what creatures may be lurking in the un-released caverns). This pales even in comparison with "Tell all the People". One of the worst songs I've ever heard, it hurts me when I think is by the same band that gave me "Strange Days" or "When The Music's over". I don't know but this track is made even worse by Morrison's awful repetitive meaningless lyrics. Atrocious.

Easy Ride (2/10) The last song was so bad that everything sounds well in comparison. But this track is so weak that it barely does that. The rhythm is so ridiculous, I don't know what did they pretend with this. Krieger ultimately ruins this beyond belief with his cheesy high, country-bluegrass-whatever-like notes here and there. Morrison's wrong here: hearing this album is NOT an Easy ride.

Wild Child (6/10) At least the weird march-like rhythm sounds more like The Doors, as does the guitar riff, which reeks of alcohol and cigarette-smell in a dirty bar. The song is too long for its own sake (and it only lasts 2:38!), but, incredibly enough, comes as a relief after the two preceding tracks. Is mediocre, but mediocre in THE SOFT PARADE is really a compliment. Near the end it sounds like a poor-man's version of "Five To One".

Runnin' Blue (4/10) Krieger is at it again, which means we're back in the land of brass and cheese. The main verse is not so bad but then we have a section of someone (I don't know if it's Morrison, I think it's actually Krieger) singing in joking, deep-country style (with violins and everything). That manages to make the song an awful experience.

Wishful Sinful (5/10) Krieger shouldn't be left alone ever again. At least this one is not so bad, but it's another "soft-rock" number of those which we never knew The Doors were capable of. And after hearing this album, we know they WEREN'T, as none of this songs managed to be hits. If you want to record cheesy, mellow tracks, leave it to those that know how to do it.

The Soft Parade (8/10) In this re-mix, we have a couple more lines of Morrison's reciting something even before the "When I was back there in seminary school" line. We had to wait for the last track in the album to get something resembling a good song. Actually, analyzed as a rock song, is not that good, as is more of a pastiche of un-related parts than a smoothly-going song. But Morrison sounds like he CARES, and the music itself is decent, and at times even good. After the first acoustic section (with good melody) we have a psychedelic, almost disco-like section followed by a more peaceful, flowery, cute-and-happy part which finally gives way to the final section, the longest, most rhythmically-interesting and more Doors-like of the lot. It overstays it's welcome by a minute or more, but it accomplishes the impossible: it makes you end your THE SOFT PARADE experience with something else than a headache.

My final words: an awful album, not even good. It barely skips the 1-star rating because of two things: one, the last track; two, the fact that collectors and fans should have this disaster in their The Doors' collection, if only to be able to prove that they are actually true fans (not that that matters musically, of course. The album is still a debacle).

Recommended for: The rating says it all: "Collectors, fans only" .

Not recommended for: Whoever doesn't fit in the recommendation above.

.unless you are doing a research about the effects of lack of inspiration and motivation in music. Then, it doesn't get much better than this.

The T | 2/5 |

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