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Various Artists: A Psych Tribute to The Doors
Various Artists A Psych Tribute to The Doors CD Album Review

Various Artists: A Psych Tribute to The Doors

Psychedelic/Stoner Rock

My first question was simple. Why? Why this psychedelic rock tribute to The Doors? Oh yeah, with Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and others, they're the pioneers of the genre in psychedelic Sixties. (I was there, remember?) Yet, I'm still scratching my head: covering this iconic band is like treading on classic rock hallowed ground.

The Doors Band Photo

The Doors: Jim may be rolling over in his grave.

What you have with A Psych Tribute to The Doors is thirteen relatively obscure psychedelic and stoner bands covering the same number of Doors songs. These include some of the most popular like L.A. Woman, Touch Me, Hello I Love You, Riders of the Storm, and Light My Fire. 'Covering' doesn't really describe what's going on here; it's more like a reinterpretation of the songs. Excepting Clinic's version of Touch Me, which sounds nothing like the original, all the bands attempt to keep the root character and melody of each. The problem, with only a few exceptions, is that they all sound somewhere between weird and boring.

For example, my go to Doors song will always be Roadhouse Blues: the rhythm, the groove, the blues, and Morrison's vocal intonations are terrific. Not so much with Vietnam's version: way too muted and muffled (which also describes the tenor of the mix across this entire album), and the vocalist will never equal Morrison's combination on nonchalance and swagger when saying, 'I woke up this morning and got myself a beer.' Pitiful really.

You've got to give each band credit: who wouldn't want to take a swing at a Doors song, providing your own twist on it. So give most of them a nod for effort. But most of the stuff here is lifeless, lacking the strength and enthusiam of the originals. Psychic Ills makes Love Me Two Times about as interesting as watching paint dry. For Hello I Love You, Dark Horses replace the essential Ray Manzarek's keyboards with some space rock synths, and then moderate the pace. Don't even bother with Clinic's version of Touch Me. It's like a Seinfeld episode: a song about nothing, at least nothing related to Touch Me. I think you're getting the picture. But one more example. One of the best things about People Are Strange are the lyrics, but Camera does an instrumental interpretation, and totally miss the carnival theme in the melody. It's more a rock song, with those space rock synths again.

Lest you think I totally hated this album, which I didn't, I found several songs that didn't strain my credulity too much. More interesting renditions come with The Soft Parade by Sons of Hippies, Love Her Madly by Geri X, and Elephant Stone's L.A. Woman, but they all took some time getting used to. Call me a purist, call me a stick in the mud, or whatever, if I want The Doors, I'll play The Doors. After all, I did listen to them back in the day, that is, whenever I could sneak the vinyl on to my parents' console stereo. Remember those?

Elephant Stone - L.A. Woman - New fiction, crime fiction by Craig Hartranft

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In Short

Call me a purist, call me a stick in the mud, or whatever, if I want The Doors, I'll play The Doors. After all, I did listen to them back in the day.

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