James Lee Stanley and Cliff Eberhardt
All Wood and Doors (Beachwood Recordings)
By Brian Arsenault
In my imagination, two old folkies walk into a bar and after a bucket of beers one of them says: “You know, we ought to record a CD of Doors songs. They still got lots of fans, you know.”
The other one says: “You know, that’s a pretty good idea”.
The only problem is they apparently didn’t wake up sober the next day and go back to their usual stuff. All Wood and Doors ensued.
I considered a one line review:
It’s just not right.
But then I thought there might be some readers who wouldn’t get it, although I knew many fans of The Doors — which is a way of saying fans of Jim Morrison — would get it without even giving the album a listen. To replace the deep velvet tones of despair and dementia that no one else in rock could equal with the twang of country/folk sincerity just never had a chance.
It’s just not right.
Oh, the acoustic guitar playing is fine, at times even masterful, but you wouldn’t have Loretta Lynn sing Billie Holiday. Nothing wrong with Loretta if you like that sort of thing, but she’s not up to Billie.
I once heard a story that Tony Bennett was encouraged to do an album of Janis Joplin songs. His terse reply was: “You do it.” Now I’m a big fan of both Mr. Bennett and Janis but Tony had it right. There are some chasms you don’t attempt to leap across either on a motorcycle or an acoustic guitar.
Ok, ok, consider this, the lights go down, the guitar intro concludes and what ensues is a long slow country styled version of “Break on Through,” the CD’s first track. Does it hurt to even think about? Then don’t listen. The pain meant I couldn’t get all the way through this song or many others on the CD although I tried them all.
“Light My Fire” is surprisingly pleasant but it’s a lot closer to Jose Feliciano’s version than Morrison’s. And let’s face it, Jose’s was silly enough.
It’s the concluding tracks, though, that really define the miss that is this CD. When you hear this version of “People Are Strange”, and I hope you won’t, you think, no they’re not. “Riders on the Storm” lacks any semblance of the menace and melancholy of Morrison’s version. But the true terror comes with “The End,” that apocalyptic song of pain and despair that Coppola knew was perfect for his movie. This version is like The Crew Cuts doing Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe the other way around.
In a way, “The End” is the perfect ending (gratefully) for this CD but not as the artists intended.
I’m not saying that Doors songs can never be done by another, but he (or she) would need to be as soulful at Otis Redding or as melodic as Sam Cook. I know, I know, they’re both gone too, but Al Green is still working.
A couple of The Doors play on this CD, which maybe says something about where their careers and taste have gone.
So does Peter Tork and maybe that is enough warning right there.
To read more of Brian Arsenault’s reviews click HERE.