Friday, 22 August 2014

P.F. Sloan - Songs of Our Times (1st Album Folk US 1965)



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Bitrate: 256
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Source: Japan SHM-CD Cutting Remaster

In 1963 he was teamed with Steve Lipkin (Steve Barri), and they became songwriting partners. Their first chart success came with Round Robin's single, "Kick That Little Foot, Sally Ann". They were particularly involved with the early years of the Dunhill Records label, writing, producing and performing on many of its releases.

The Imperial Label, which was run by its founder Lew Chudd, was sold to Al Bennett, and it was then run as a semi-independent label.Then Al Bennett, Lou Adler, Pierre Cossette and Bobby Roberts formed Dunhill Productions. (The name "Dunhill" came from Bobby Roberts, who had been a member of a tap-dancing group called The Dunhills!) Dunhill Productions then gave birth to Dunhill Records. The quality of the releases was very high, and although not all of them were successful, most of the earliest releases are prized by collectors. Incidentally, Pierre Cossette became the executive producer of the Grammy Awards show in the 1990s.

Together and separately, Sloan & Barri wrote numerous songs, most notably "Eve Of Destruction", the 1965 Billboard #1 hit for Barry McGuire, and "Secret Agent Man", the song popularised by Johnny Rivers, whilst simultaneously being in-demand session musicians. Indeed the level of proficiency reached was such that the demos they produced would frequently be better than the "polished" versions later released by other artists. In addition to releasing numerous records under various pseudonyms, he also released several excellent records under his own name. The single "Sins Of A Family" was particularly successful, charting in both the U.S. (Billboard #87), and the U.K. (Music Week #37)

In 1965, his debut album was released, "Songs Of Our Times". Then in 1966, his second album, "12 More Times" was issued. His records had rapidly became increasingly mature, culminating in the 1967 release coupling the psychedlically-tinged "Karma (A Study of Divinations) with what many consider to be his finest song, "I Can't Help But Wonder Elizabeth". In 1967, he returned to New York, and in 1968 released the album "Measure Of Pleasure"(Atco).

A seminal figure in the evolution of West Coast pop, singer/songwriter P.F. Sloan composed and produced some of the most enduring records of the 1960s. While his solo efforts remain folk-rock cult classics, they were barely promoted by longtime label Dunhill, and his subsequent exit from the company was the start of a fall from grace that culminated in a three-decade absence from the studio. Born Philip Gary Schlein in New York City on September 18, 1945, he spent the lion's share of his adolescence in Los Angeles. While browsing the Sunset and Vine music store Wallich's Music City, the 12-year-old met Elvis Presley, who agreed to an impromptu introductory guitar lesson. Within a year Sloan signed to Aladdin Records, issuing his debut single, "All I Want Is Loving," to little notice. 

The Mart label effort "She's My Girl" met a similar fate, but in 1961 he resurfaced as a staff songwriter with Screen Gems, which teamed him with fellow composer Steve Barri under the supervision of producer Gary Usher. As the Fantastic Baggys, Sloan and Barri capitalized on the budding surf craze with "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'." They also co-wrote the Round Robin hit "Kick That Little Foot, Sally Ann," and when Screen Gems exec Lou Adler broke ranks to found his own label, Dunhill, he brought Sloan and Barri with him to write and produce. Throughout the mid-'60s, the Sloan/Barri partnership proved a hitmaking force to rival the likes of Bacharach/David or Goffin/King. Smashes like Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man," the Turtles' "You Baby," and the Grass Roots' "Where Were You When I Needed You" were instrumental in defining the sound of Southern California rock & roll.

Sloan's most influential composition was the Bob Dylan-inspired "Eve of Destruction," a number one hit for Barry McGuire in the fall of 1965. The song, which drew fire from conservatives and liberals alike, nevertheless became one of the defining protest anthems of the growing counterculture movement, and its success spurred Sloan to renew his own recording career in full. His comeback effort, "Sins of a Family," a bleak, poignant tale of teen prostitution, spent less than two weeks on the pop charts in late 1965, and the LP Songs of Our Times suffered backlash from a folk-rock community that dismissed Sloan as little more than a studio hack jumping on the latest commercial trend. Moreover, Dunhill execs blanched at the thought of losing their most successful songwriter, and spent virtually nothing on promoting his solo career. 

A 1966 follow-up set, Twelve More Times, fared no better, and a frustrated Sloan demanded release from his contract. Dunhill finally agreed, but forced him to sign away all songwriting royalties past, present, and future. Sloan's talent and integrity inspired fellow pop tunesmith Jimmy Webb to write a glowing tribute, "P.F. Sloan," but he remained persona non grata on the pop charts. His 1968 Atco debut, Measure of Pleasure, tanked, and he relocated to New York City, moving in with his parents and plotting his next move. Sloan did not resurface until 1972, releasing the much-maligned Raised on Records on the tiny Mums label. In the decade to follow, he battled depression and catatonia, finally resurfacing in 1985 with a handful of New York club dates. Sloan nevertheless resisted overtures to cut a new LP until 2006, teaming with producer Jon Tiven and guests including Lucinda Williams and Frank Black to record the Hightone release Sailover.

Sloan's solo debut unveiled a singer-songwriter of a more serious, not to say Dylanesque, mindset than was evident on the material he had written for other artists up to that point (and indeed on the material that he continued to supply for acts like Johnny Rivers, Herman's Hermits and the Grass Roots after this album). At times, the Dylan influence was obvious -- "What Exactly's the Matter with Me," for instance, sounds like a pop Dylan with a heavy streak of satirical self-pity. Yet the strongest half or so of the album revealed a composer of considerable talent. Sloan's own versions of "Eve of Destruction" and "Take Me for What I'm Worth" are starker than the hit covers by Barry McGuire and the Searchers respectively, and "The Sins of a Family" is one of his best and most penetrating works. Other tracks, such as "I Get Out of Breath" and "This Is What I Was Made For," show more of the pop tunesmith in Sloan, and his underrated voice is well-suited for the earnest charm of the material.

01. Sins of a Family
02. Take Me for What I'm Worth
03. What's Exactly the Matter With Me
04. I'd Have to Be Out of My Mind
05. Eve of Destruction
06. This Mornin'
07. I Get Out of Breath
08. This Is What I Was Made For
09. Ain't No Way I'm Gonna Change My Mind
10. All the Things I Do for You Baby
11. (Goes to Show) Just How Wrong You Can Be
12. What Am I Doing Here With You

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3 comments:

Doug said...

Thanks for the P.F.Sloan album.Your efforts are always appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Merci !

jes said...

oooohh great folk rock album :). P.F Sloan is all a classic.thanks