Thursday, 26 December 2019

The Doors - Soft Parade

Self made re-imagining of original album 2019.

Side 1:

01 Whiskey, Mystics and Men (Version #1)
02 Wild Child
03 Shamen's Blues
04 Easy Ride
05 Do It
06 Push Push

Side 2:

07 Away in India
08 Universal Mind
09 I Will Never Be Untrue
10 Someday Soon
11 The Woman is a Devil

Side 3:

12 Tell All the People
13 Touch Me
14 Who Scared You
15 Runnin' Blue
16 Wishful Sinful

Side 4:

17 Orange County Suite
18 Whiskey, Mystics and Men (Version #2)
19 The Soft Parade

I've been dipping in and out of The Doors back catalouge for the last five or so years after a very long absence. I've always been intrigued by their fourth and most derided L.P., 'The Soft Parade'.

No one's favourite Doors album, 'The Soft Parade' had the band seemingly conforming to the commercial; horns, string arrangements, 'Touch Me'. The less ornate songs seemed unfocused, especially compared to the previous year’s effort 'Waiting for the Sun'. 

There are fantastic songs on the album and also in recordings they made, both live and in the studio, around this time.

The material for the original album took place from November 1968 into February 1969, with a couple of earlier recordings from 1968. The band had toured up until recording and had no new material written. Producer Paul A. Rothchild insisted the group record multiple takes of songs written in the studio and was also responsible for the insistence on horn and string overdubs over several of the songs. 

The album ran over budget and over time.

The album is disappointing compared to the earlier releases, not just in the material; the album had only nine tracks and ran not much over 30 minutes.

There are several Doors originals not included on 'The Soft Parade' that are the equal and in some cases superior to the released material. Put together as a whole, it makes a lot more sense and I think would have been viewed differently if The Doors had released a double album, including live recordings and more improvised material left off the original L.P.

This re-imagining of 'The Soft Parade' is that of a double L.P.; 4 sides running approximately 18 minutes in length and is thematically sequenced.

Side 1 is a set of unreleased and original album songs that retain the familiar Doors sound. 'Wild Child', 'Shamen's Blues' and 'Do It' all feature on the original album, as does 'Easy Ride'; a leftover from 'Waiting for the Sun'. 'Whiskey, Mystics and Men' went unreleased. I'm not sure why, it sounds like classic Doors. 'Push Push' is a much bootlegged jam, presented here in an edited form.

Side 2 is a stretch of new, live Doors originals. For nearly a year between 1969 and 1970, The Doors recorded a lot of their performances to multitrack. The concept was to present an album of originals, including a definitive 'The Celebration of The Lizard', which was attempted during sessions for 'Waiting for the Sun'. The resulting album, 'Absolutely Live', was excellent, but the record label's insistence that the L.P. also include hits watered down the original concept.

For this side of the re-imagined 'Soft Parade', I have included songs from throughout the tour. It shows the band were not short on originals and already a wider picture of their 1969/70 output is revealed. 'The Woman is a Devil' is actually a studio jam, but one I've always liked and it fits with the feel of this side.

Side 3 is for the string and horn overdubs material. It was producer Paul A. Rothcild that insisted on the overdubs, as well as multiple takes in an attempt for perfection. Presented together on one side, they provide another theme to an already sprawling album. 'Tell All The People', 'Touch Me', 'Runnin' Blue' and 'Wishful Sinful' are all from the original L.P. 'Who Scared You' was originally the B-Side to the 'Wishful Sinful' single, bizarrely left off the album.

Side 4 is a come down of sorts, but contains longer and more strung out pieces. 'Orange County Suite' was infamously overdubbed by the surviving Doors in the 1990's. It is an original from 1969 and it remains a mystery as to why it never appeared on any contemporary Doors release. 'Whiskey, Mystics & Men' appears for a second time, slightly more demented than the first. The album finishes like the original, with its title track.

So, what The Doors might of done in 1969.

Cat of Tomorrow - Country Hoodoo / T.B. Blues

TOR070. 2019.

01 Country Hoodoo
02 TB Blues

The newest release from TOR.

"Hey folks, this is my new single – and only 7 years after the last one! Although I’ve been playing it live for the past year or so (maybe even longer), Country Hoodoo has taken quite a time to find its way onto a record. The original version was done three years ago and sat around waiting for a home, on a proposed (and forever mutating) EP that never materialised. Then, after playing it live, the song continued to evolve. The lyrics changed for a start and I became more comfortable singing it, so I felt that a new vocal was required to reflect what the song was now. That ended up being a lot less straightforward than you would think, with various attempts to capture said vocal being thwarted to the point where we began to believe that the song itself was hexed, sabotaged by Hoodoo spirits who disapproved of such levity and cultural appropriation. Anyway, it was finally completed and here it is now, though only if you have actually been able to download and/or listen to it can the hex truly be said to have been broken.

As for the song itself, the phrase “Country Hoodoo” popped into my head and I knew that there was a song there. I read up a little on Hoodoo and learned that it was not the same as Voodoo, but a type of folk magic brought over to the Southern states of America by enslaved Africans. I guess that it’s a basically a love song, but one that incorporates terms and imagery from various spiritual practices. It also refers to the belief that the crossroads, so common in blues lore and specifically in the legend of Robert Johnson, is a magical place which is "between two worlds" - "neither here nor there" & "betwixt and between" – and a site where spirits can be contacted and paranormal events can occur.

The second song on offer here has taken even longer to find its way out into the world, having been originally recorded by me for possible inclusion on the first Dead West album back in 2010. Thougheverybody liked it at the time, it was very close in feel to another track which we liked a little bit and included instead, so it didn’t make the cut. Over the years, Ste Benson has been this song’s most fervent champion and it was largely at his urging that it appears here, though it certainly makes sense when paired with another slice of weird Americana.

TB Blues was first recorded by the great Jimmie Rodgers in 1931, though I believe that it was derived from a traditional song and is one of many songs about TB and indeed other diseases that were prevalent in America at the time. In the spirit of folk music and its evolution, I’ve changed some of the lyrics and added a refrain to the last part of the song which was not in the Rodgers’ version.

Many thanks to Bob Cuthbertson for allowing me to use his splendid artwork for the cover which brings to mind John Fahey albums such as “Blind Joe Death” and “Death Chants, Breakdowns & Military Waltzes” - thus providing another link to American roots music and folklore.

And so, in the manner of a folk tale, these two orphans, after a long and difficult journey, have now found a home. Please make them welcome." - David Thompson.

Donovan - Lord of the Reedy River

Self made album 1969 / 2018.

01 Lord of the Reedy River
02 Mr Wind
03 New Year's Resolution
04. Barabajagal (Love is Hot)
05 She Moved Through the Fair
06 Marjorie (Margarine)
07 Moon in Capricorn
08 Runaway
09 Unicorn
10 Atlantis
11 Lord of the Reedy River (Reprise)
12 Lord of the Universe

I've always thought that Donovan's output between 1965 and 1969 was miraculous and deeply under appreciated. He embraced psychedelia before anyone else and with 'Sunshine Superman' released one of the first truly psychedelic singles. To form his albums, Donovan and producer Mickie Most would divide up the songs into sessions involving different players; one set would have electric instruments, another set would have players with exotic instruments and so on. He would also leave some excellent original compositions on the cutting room floor.

'The Hurdy Gurdy Man' from 1968 again featured diverse compositions and players, although this time he seemingly had difficulty making a uniform whole. The album was saved by the strength of the individual songs.

His final album of the sixties did not fare as well. 'Barabajagal' had songs from sporadic sessions, relations with Mickie Most were at an all time low (they would end their creative partnership that year) and perhaps after burning bright for the last 4 years he was running out of steam. The album was a significant drop from what had came before.

Along with The Doors re-imagining, this marks the second album from 1969 I decided to present in a reformed way, both having their 50th anniversary this year.

From the original album, I have included only the singles; 'Barabajagal' and 'Atlantis'.

In 1969, Donovan recorded a session of just himself and from this I have included 'Lord of the Reedy River', 'New Year's Resolution', 'Runaway', 'Marjorie (Margarine)' and 'Lord of the Universe'. These songs were recorded alone and have a feel of the tracks from 'For Little Ones', Donovan's acid folk classic from 1968.

'Mr Wind' and 'Unicorn' were taken from the second album for children; 1971's 'H.M.S. Donovan'. These tracks were recorded in 1968.

'Moon in Capricorn' is taken from an unreleased soundtrack to a film of the same name and the reprise of 'Lord of the Reedy River' is taken from a live performance within the film.

So, what Donovan might have done in 1969.