The Lizard Strings

Riders on the Storm: The Door Concerto

The Prague Symphony Orchestra (Decca)

By David Lilly

With intense emotional versatility, this recording of symphonic versions of music by The Doors breathes new life into the songs chosen for it. It is an orchestral tapestry with splendid results.

Evoking a range of emotions from melancholy to celebratory, Killing Joke alum Jaz Coleman (credited with arranging, orchestrating, and producing), violin master Nigel Kennedy, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the surviving members of The Doors - John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, and Ray Manzarek - have successfully captured the spirit of that band as a unit, as well as that of their haunted lyricist Jim Morrison. Riders is a lengthy piece of aural cinema that will grab both open-minded Doors fans and anyone who likes classical music.

Things get underway on the left foot, but not intolerably, with a rather hyperactive version of "Riders on the Storm" and a dirge-like "The Unknown Soldier." But the dramatic and exotic treatment of "Spanish Caravan" definitely compliments the original. Drama is pretty well ubiquitous in The Doors' music, so most of these symphonic arrangements are very appropriate.

The fact that these pieces don't clock in at even close to the same running times as the original songs ("Love Street" runs nearly seven minutes, "Strange Days" is nearly fifteen seconds longer) indicates that not only does this music capture the spirit of The Doors, but that the musicians were also given artistic freedom to leave their mark on the band's work. Not at all surprising, given the band's reputation for experimentation. It is also another indication of the surviving members' cooperation in the making of this work. All involved deserve credit for "Light My Fire," which is luscious and retains the celebratory spirit of the song. And "The End" remains a tour de force with an eastern musical flavor while retaining the dramatic melancholy and acknowledgment of finality.

After the last sound of this record drifts into silence, what remains is that The Doors followed the most important rule of show business: they left their audience wanting more, in any form.

Thirty years later, they continue to deliver.