There’s two ways of looking at this CD, the first, a tribute by classic rock artists who were contemporaries of The Doors paying homage to The Doors, hence the name “Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute to The Doors.” Or it can be looked at as an example of what became wrong with classic rock which led to the back to basics approach of grunge and alternative rock.
“Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute to The Doors” starts out with jazzier versions of “L.A. Woman” and “Love Me Two Times” that really gives the songs a new perspective. Edgar Winters vocals on “The Crystal Ship add a haunting quality that makes the song his own while still paying tribute to The Doors. The same can be said for David Johansen’s vocals on “People Are Strange” (which immediately follows “The Crystal Ship”) and Johansen’s vocals have the carnival side-show barker quality of “People Are Strange”. “Break On Through” is a nearly indestructible rock classic that seems to fare well and above no matter what genre of music or musician covers it.
Into every review a little rain must fall. “Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute to The Doors” takes a more guitar hero approach to The Doors then The Doors ever did, and when an organ is added it sounds more like a Wurlitzer organ from your local roller rink sound that was widely parodied in the 60’s, for this reason a lot of these covers add the patina of age that doesn’t exist in The Doors sound. Then there are a couple of missteps that detract from the covers. One is Keith Emerson’s intro for “People Are Strange”. Jim Morrison was once accused of writing “over-elaborated psychedelic non-sequiteurs” and that’s the exact feeling that Emerson’s intro evokes before it becomes a weird musical pastiche of Yes, Harold Faltermeyer circa the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack, and the tones the UFO’s make at the end of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The second is Pat Travers adding the lines “rain on me/make me clean” to “The End” that Jim Morrison never added nor intended to be in the piece. The addition of those lines add meanings and context that Morrison never intended and wouldn’t agree with philosophically. “The End” is more of a literary or theatre piece than a song, and as such is more reliant on the author’s words and intentions than other pieces.
All that being said, the production values of “Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute to The Doors” are great, not one of the songs sounds bad, and Billy Sherwood’s producing and arrangements gives each cover a unique take on The Doors. “Light My Fire: A Classic Rock Salute to The Doors” is the second Doors tribute CD from Cleopatra Records this year. The first “A Psych Tribute to The Doors” featuring alternative or up and coming bands covering Doors songs, feels closer in spirit to The Doors because The Doors were the alternative rock of their day, sure, they are a group from the 60’s but they aren’t of the 60’s. That coupled with producer Paul Rothchild’s insistence on keeping The Doors away from the lure of musical fads, The Doors music still feels new and fresh almost fifty years later.
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