Another round of the Doors today, and this album, “The Soft Parade”, really showcases the vocal talents of Jim Morrison. Like the last two releases from the Doors, this album isn’t quite the hit factory of the first album, but it does have its moments, and I find it impressive the band kept recording and releasing solid albums even as Morrison was becoming more erratic and unpredictable with every day.
The album opens with two very unique songs, “Tell All The People” and “Touch Me”. They are very horn-centric, and almost have a Three Dog Night feel to them, but both really highlight that despite his lack of vocal training, Jim Morrison was really a great rock-and-roll singer. Many, many years ago, in the 1980s, I remember playing “Touch Me” for my dad, who didn’t care for much of my music, as I was trying to convince him that Morrison was in fact a crooner at heart, with the ability to sing like the Rat Pack legends like Sinatra & Martin. More than 30 years later, I still stand by that statement. Singing was almost an afterthought for Jim Morrison, but beyond his gifts as a poet, performer, and visual centerpiece, the guy really could sing. Lots of credit also go to Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger and the producers for continuing to expand the sound of the band, while also remaining true to their roots on songs like “Shaman’s Blues” and “Do It”.
Listen to “Easy Ride”, and you can hear the inspiration of Ray Charles’ “I’ve Got a Woman”. “Wild Child” is the most Morrison-esque song on the album, and probably the second most recognized song on the album after “Touch Me”. At the very end, Jim drops the line “Remember when we were in Africa?”, a line that was later referenced in the “Morrison is Alive” conspiracy theories. Robbie Krieger’s guitar is also outstanding on this song. The album ends with the 8:33 long title track, “The Soft Parade”, opening with Morrison’s blistering fire and brimstone gospel outburst. This song is consistent with previous albums and their extended last songs. This song even has a bit of a jazz feel, and doesn’t hit with the same impact as “The End” or “When the Music’s Over”, but it is a unique end to a unique album during a productive run for the Doors.