With just a handful of studio albums, it’s disingenious to have to say that this is my least favorite Doors album. I am speaking of course about the original line-up. Other Voices and Full Circle are footnotes essentially. This preface exists only to illustrate why ranking isn’t always a great indicator or quality. This is a decent album.
The Soft Parade is most notable for its inclusion of horns and orchestral instruments. Overall, I think they work. It adds an interesting dimension to their sound. Most songs, it adds nice accompaniment to Manzarek’s organ. In some, it is a blast of bombastic, sweeping flavor. Lush soundtrack sounds aren’t always best, however. Some songs do seem cheapened as a result.
It’s a compromised sound I have to be in the mood to enjoy. While the song-writing and performances of the core band are the same, Parade really can’t be divorced from the production. For better or worse, really.
“Touch Me” is the obvious classic, equal to the best that had come before or would after. After that, my personal favorites are the outtakes of “Who Scared You” and “Whiskey, Mystics and Men” (available on the re-issues and box sets).
Judging only from the official standard album, there are a lot of sections I enjoy, but entire songs I can not entyirely endorse. There’s something forced about many of them. “The Soft Parade”, for instance. The suite is a stitched construction of different bits and pieces, not quite meshing togeteher as intended.
This is an album to have, no doubt, but if you are just getting into the doors, it is one of the last that you need. Even considering it in chronological fashion, it stands out more as a musical cul-de-sac than an essential step. Easily skipped without losing much. Parts to enjoy though, for sure.