Although I think most Doors fans will probably disagree with me, The Soft Parade was always my favorite of their six studio albums. Back when it was originally released, in what I want to say was 1969, the album received an almost universal drubbing from the critics. To be fair, between big Jimbo wagging his willie for all the world to see at that infamous Miami concert and a growing perception within the rock community that the Doors time had passed, there was already a pretty sizable backlash in motion.
But to me the album just never quite got it's due. Panned by the critics back then, it doesn't get a whole lot more respect today. The most common take on The Soft Parade seems to be it feels like a watered down version of earlier Doors albums. There are too many strings for one thing, and then there are the cornier sounding tracks like "Do It" and "Easy Ride" that just sound really out of place on a Doors album.
Valid criticisms all and, for the most part, certainly true enough.
But the album also has more than it's share of true gems, with a few of the songs being bonafide Doors classics. I would put "Touch Me," for example, right up there with the very best Doors singles. It's got a great keyboard based hook, and also builds tension throughout the song before climaxing in the famous "Stronger Than Dirt" finale.
Likewise, once you get past it's strings and generally overproduced feel, "Wishful Sinful" is one of the prettiest sounding songs in the entire Doors' canon. It also contains what may be Jim Morrison's last really pure sounding vocal, before all the booze turned his voice into that gruff sounding croak you hear on L.A. Woman. And what about "Wild Child"? If that isn't the gnarliest sounding Robbie Kreiger guitar riff you've ever heard from a band usually dominated by Ray Manzarek's keyboards, then I just don't know what is.
The eight minute opus that is the title track of this album is a textbook example of Morrison at his over the top, poetically excessive best. Don't ask me what all the nonsense about seminary schools and whipping the horses eyes that Morrison sings about here actually means. All I know is it just sounds pretty damned cool, especially towards the end where Morrison's vocals are double tracked to create the audio illusion of two Morrisons trying to out gun each other.
So, this new remastered version is actually part of an entire catalog reissue where the new versions match those put out on last year's Perception box set. The artwork on the sleeve recreates the gatefold of the original, while adding several new photos and extensive new liner notes written by music scribe David Fricke and Bruce Botnick. The bonus tracks include a couple of alternate takes of "Touch Me" and previously unheard tracks like "Whiskey, Mystics, And Men."
Perhaps I am in the minority in my high regard for The Soft Parade. Maybe it's because as the spry young lad I was when I first heard it, this album made me realize for the first time that there was more to The Doors than just "Light My Fire."
Whatever the case, The Soft Parade holds up as well for me as anything the band ever did during it's all too brief existence.