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The Doors - The Soft Parade CD (album) cover

THE SOFT PARADE

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

2.73 | 192 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars The soft option

By the time of their fourth album, released in 1969, Jim Morrison's erratic behaviour was beginning to seriously affect his role in the band. This is reflected not only in his limited song-writing contribution, but in the overall quality of the product.

The brass and orchestral arrangements which appear throughout "The soft parade" could, if one was being cynical, be there to disguise the shortcomings of the material. It is not that this is a bad album though. The opening Robbie Kreiger songs "Tell all the people" and "Touch me" have strong melodies and decent performances. They are however much more in the mould of Blood Sweat and Tears than the Doors previous albums, with a strong pop/jazz rock feel.

There are a couple of reasons why this album is relevant to the proto-prog connotation the band have acquired here. "Shaman's blues" is more typical of the band's previous albums, with some fine guitar backing a more characteristic vocal performance by Morrison. The closing 8+ minute title track may not have the appeal of "When the music's over" or "The end", but it is nevertheless the feature track. Morrison's opening spoken declaration sounds like Meat Loaf has taken a step back in time, the mock anger inadvertently raising a smirk. The track then works is way through a succession of themes, a bit like Buffalo Springfield's "Broken arrow", Morrison unusually multi-tracking his vocals. There's a generally loose feel to the song, which to be honest sounds like it is long only for the sake of being long.

Elsewhere, we have orthodox pop based songs with West Coast lyrics and atmospheres, things reaching a low point on "Easy Ride" with its jaunty, country pie feel. The bluesy "Wild child", a sort of roughed up and dirty "Riders on the storm", laid the foundations for any number of similar songs which followed. On "Runnin' blue", we find a rare vocal by Krieger, but since this coincides with a return to the unfortunate country sounds, the less said the better.

It is easy to be hard on "The soft parade"; when it is assessed in the context of The Doors early albums, it struggles to stand alongside them. We must remember though that The Doors were a unique and remarkable band. Taken is isolation, this is a decent if unremarkable album, which had it been the first release by a new band in 1969, would now be recognised as something of a lost gem.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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