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CD Review PF Sloan

PF Sloan - Sailover

Reviewed By Scott Homewood

When I first started enjoying the music of PF Sloan, I didn't even know it was Sloan that I liked. You see, Sloan wrote one of my very favorite songs when he was just a struggling songwriter and in the hands of talented singer Johnny Rivers, that song - Secret Agent Man - became a huge, huge hit that kept Rivers' career going and gave Sloan enough oomph to start his own recording career. Once that song hit, Sloan was on his way and recorded a few albums for Dunhill Records which most folk-rock experts consider classics. Sadly, Dunhill let Sloan down and barely promoted his work, which eventually led to personal turmoil that kept him out of the studio for the better part of the last thirty years.
A very sad tale for a songwriter who composed and produced some of the best records of the '60's. Sadly, the music business has a habit of chewing up and spitting out the most talented of artists while the no-talents like Justin Timberlake and the soulless hacks who are featured on American Idol year after painful year. A child prodigy, Sloan had recorded his first single by the time he was thirteen, though it met with little success. A few years later, he teamed with Brill Building songwriter Steve Barri and producer Gary Usher (Beach Boys) and scored a few surf-themed hits during the surf craze of the pre-Beatles '60's. Eventually, the team drifted to Dunhill, where Sloan and his partners carfted hits not only for Rivers, but also for the Turtles and the Grass Roots. Sloan hit his apex as a songwriter when his song "Eve Of Destruction" was taken to the top of the charts by Barry McGuire. The song served as a rallying cry and came under fire from Republicans and Democrats alike. The song's notoriety spurred Sloan to re-start his own career as a recording artist but Dunhill was reluctant to lose their top songwriter and sabotaged all of Sloan's solo albums by under promoting them. Eventually, Sloan left the label but only at a high cost: he was forced to give up all of his songwriting royalties past, present and future.
Basically starting over, Sloan mustered up two more solo albums before fading from the limelight to deal with personal issues. Although he has occasionally performed live, this is Sloan's first foray into the recording studio since his last solo record in 1994. Teaming with producer Jon Tiven and with guests including Lucinda Williams and Frank Black, Sloan puts forth a great effort on his second album back from his self-imposed exile. Though fans of his '60's work will notice some of the conventional hit-factory approach to songwriting missing from his new work in favor of a Bob Dylan-inspired introspection, there is no question his songwriting is still as strong as ever more than 40 years after he wrote "Eve Of Destruction". Equally as absent are the pop instrumentation - Tiven and Sloan keep it to the basic guitar, bass and drums setup here and let Sloan's songwriting take the lead which is a smart choice. Sloan shows he is still capable of writing meaningful songs about important topics and has never been afraid of making his opinions felt. I just hope this album is successful enough to inspire him to return to a more active schedule. His talent is too good to be silent.
Things do seem to finally be going Sloan's way. Recently, Sloan revealed the songs he signed away back in 1966 are slowly reverting back to him again. The terms of the contract provided for Sloan to receive no royalties on any of his songs until twenty different artists covered them. Since his songs have become standards in the rock world, Sloan has started to receive royalties again on his biggest hits. Hopefully as the damage to his psyche continues to heal, we will hear more of his fantastic songwriting. A wonderful comeback from a long-neglected artist.



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