If, like me, your first reaction on coming across this record is to expect pretentious “middle of the road” interpretations of rock standards by a hip, over-hyped classical musician then think again because what we have here is the exact opposite.
Nigel Kennedy treads a dangerous path in seeking to re-site Jim Morrison’s haunting vocals – the key feature in virtually all of these Doors tracks – into an effective classical context without reverting to pastiche. But Jaz Coleman’s powerful and complex orchestral arrangements cleverly pick up on and seriously extend Ray Manzarek’s & Robbie Kreiger’s highly distinctive underlying chord sequences to provide the perfect context for Kennedy’s soaring violin virtuosity that captures, without replicating, the essence of Morrison’s ethereal voice. It’s serious classical music and its highly derivative – with snapshots of Vaughan Williams, Elgar and Holst all over the place – but when it works, as most of it does, its quite brilliant.
In fact, the main difficulty that anyone familiar with the originals faces is in switching-off from lyrics that are so etched into your brain that you find yourself humming along to them without fully appreciating the melodic complexity of what’s actually going on – a problem most noticeable on the quite superb interpretation of “Riders On The Storm”. So… suspend, if you can, your memory banks and your pre-conceptions and enjoy this album for what it is: a captivating suite of short classical gems.