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James Lee Stanley: All Wood and Doors

James Lee Stanley and Cliff Eberhardt – All Wood And Doors (Beachwood)
I’m usually adverse too putting long lists of names in my reviews, but when a project such as this – a collection of acoustic versions of Doors songs – boasts a guestlist of Paul Barrere (Little Feat), Laurence Juber (Wings), Timothy B. Schmit (Poco, Eagles), Peter Tork (Monkees), and John Densmore and Robbie Krieger from The Doors, you’ll understand why I’m happy to make an exception.

It must have been a daunting task for singer-guitarists James Lee Stanley and Cliff Eberhardt to reinterpret such well-known songs, especially with Densmore and Krieger looking over their shoulders (it should be noted that John Densmore in particular is a fierce and vocal protector of The Doors’ legacy – ask Ray Manzarek…), so it’s to their considerable credit that not only have they approached this material from an original direction they’ve done so in a way which breathes new life into songs that many will have lived with for forty-plus years.

The Doors were always a theatrical band, and in singer Jim Morrison they had a frontman who completely understood the drama. I suspect Stanley and Eberhardt are cut from completely different cloth. Their arrangements substitute rootsy, Americana craft for hippie pomp and ceremony, and the songs are allowed to escape their bonds. They take on most of the classics; “Break On Through”, “Light My Fire”, “Love Me Two Times”, etc., but special mention must be made for that most idiosyncratic of all Doors tracks, “The End”. Tagged on the end, and at 2:36, a mere fragment of the original, it somehow encapsulates their whole approach to the project. Try and hear it if you can.

Rob F.