My son is the king of conversation starting questions. This past week, one of our dinner conversations focused on one of his better one’s: What album by one of your favorite artists or group do you dislike?
I had to think a bit about this one, but finally came up with an answer.
Back in my teenage years I loved a few select groups with a blind intensity that threw all critical thought to the winds. (“No, I love the Beatles’ cover of “Mr. Moonlight”, it’s a great song!). But not even in my feverish teenage adoration of Jim Morrison and the Doors, could I defend the vinyl atrocity of The Soft Parade. And on the whole, most Doors fans I’ve met concur with this decision.
One of my college friends once described Soft Parade as the re-invention of Jim Morrison as a cheesy, creepy lounge singer. Somewhere in the alternative universe of “Fallout”, there’s a Vegas casino cabaret room where every night a post-apocalyptic Morrison performs this album in its entirety. On constant repeat. The songs are over produced and contain some of the weakest lyrical output from the group’s career. Robby Krieger is the stronger presence on this disk and it shows–it mirrors much of the insipid output of the two post Morrison Door’s albums, Other Voices and Full Circle, which yes, I do own, unfortunately. Its full of bad poetry put to bad fusion jazz orchestrations. And to quote Alex Dubro of Rolling Stone magazine, it’s an album that is worse than infuriating, it is indeed a sad affair and not very listenable. It sounds much like a contractual obligation album that everyone, especially the lead singer, phoned in.
While the Doors redeemed themselves with their follow-up disk, Morrison Hotel, the Soft Parade marks the turning point in Jim Morrison’s and the Doors story. It’s the point where Morrison gave up trying to be a rock god and sunk into a haze of alcohol and drugs, trying to redeem himself as a poet and writer. And by 1971, it was all over. And maybe, that’s why is so sad and such a waste of vinyl.
For the record, my husbands vote in the conversation went to Frank Zappa’s Uncle Meat. My son picked Radiohead’s The Bends. I have a bone to pick with that child, because I actually think that isn’t such a bad record..