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The Doors - The Soft Parade CD (album) cover

THE SOFT PARADE

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

2.91 | 309 ratings

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TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars The Doors 4th album "The Soft Parade" came after an extensive tour, and with pressure from the record company to produce another album left the band members little time to compose new music. Their producer, in the meantime, wanted the band to try out a new sound, while pushing into a popular sound and style. Thus, The Soft Parade was born out of this. However, I don't believe it was a big failure, even though the albums longevity in sales wasn't quite as long as previous albums.

The "new sound" of The Doors would end up incorporating tracks with a lot of orchestral backing. It might have been a bit shocking at first to the masses of The Doors fans, but listening to it all of these years later, it doesn't seem as shocking as it did then. It almost seems like a natural progression. And, for being pressured into creating new songs, they ended up sounding pretty decent anyway.

Keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore had already discussed bringing in some horns and strings, and the idea to do something different only allowed them to try it out. Besides, Densmore and Manzarek both had jazz backgrounds and welcomed the idea. Morrison, in the meantime, wasn't necessarily opposed to the idea, but his own songs didn't go in that direction, which ended up giving the album more of a variety.

"Tell All the People" and hit "Touch Me" were both written by Robby Krieger, and they start off the album with that upbeat and pop jazz sound, and it starts things off the right way. The next 4 tracks were penned by Morrison, and these see little or no orchestra or horns, but rely more on the rock, blues and psychedelic styles that Morrison felt were his stronger suit. On previous albums, the entire band had been credited for each song, but Morrison decided that he didn't want to be associated as having writing credits for "Tell All the People" because of the lyrics telling people to "get your guns", so mainly for this reason, it was decided to list the specific writing credits to the appropriate band member. As the album continues, "Runnin' Blue" and "Wishful Sinful" are both penned by Krieger, and the "new sound" is apparent again, however, with the former track, there is a bluegrass style chorus to it, which was definitely a surprise for fans especially with it also being the first time Krieger would sing on a Doors album, and the latter track has the string drenched arrangements that turn the song into a track that could have been written by Neil Diamond, and is probably my least favorite on the album.

The thing that does weaken the songs a bit on this album is not so much the inclusion of heavily orchestrated tracks, but because of so many shorter and lesser developed tracks. The spirit is there, for sure, but most of them are over before they have a chance to get into the listeners head. That is the case with all of them except for the title track, which is the one that originally finished this quick album off. It is another Morrison penned track. It is also the most progressive song on the album with several different meter and style changes throughout its 8 minute run time. It also ends up, along with "Touch Me", as being the most memorable things about the album, and the song that would keep the fans happy with the feeling that this new direction would probably not be permanent.

The 40th Anniversary Edition of the album continues on with 6 extra tracks. "Who Scared You" was written by Krieger, and was a non-album b-side for "Wishful Sinful". It is also another track utilizing the orchestra and horns, though it does have more of a blues inflection than the other Krieger tunes on this album. This is followed by two different versions of "Whiskey, Mystics and Men", a non-album track recorded in 1970 (Version 1) and overdubbed by the surviving members of the band in a different key (Version 2). The song is definitely a classic-sounding Morrison track, with a barroom feel and an accordion providing most of the instrumental backup. "Push Push" is a rare Doors jam that follows a Latin style drum beat with Manzarek doing most of the work on piano and the band singing "Push Push Push" in the background. The track is a bit too long without much of a change for over 6 minutes. Next is "Touch Me (Dialogue)" with is a short track and just has some banter by the band as they prepare to record a take of the named song, and then this is followed by "Touch Me (Take 3)", which is a nice alternative take on the popular song that still retains the horns but accents the harpsichord and strings more.

The 50th Anniversary Edition has 16 additional tracks, but only repeats "Who Scared You" from the 40th Anniversary Edition, plus it has all of the orchestral tracks in versions that are performed only by The Doors, some alternative versions of other songs, like "Roadhouse Blues" and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further", both sung by Manzarek, a short track called "I Am Troubled", a different version of Morrison's preacher vocal from The Soft Parade track called "Seminary School", the full 60+ minute version of "Rock is Dead" and a track called "Chaos". This edition is probably more interesting to die-hard fans than anyone else. I find the 40th Anniversary Edition to be the better one as it adds to the album without adding badly done demos that weren't meant to be released.

So, overall, the album isn't as bad as some might make it out to be, but for an album by The Doors, most of the songs lack development, and that is the biggest drawback, and that is a pretty big one. The addition of orchestra and horns actually works well for the most part, and the title track is probably worth purchasing the entire album for. But there are better Doors albums, so it's one that you might want to check out after you have already made yourself familiar with some of their better albums. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

TCat | 4/5 |

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