(Still On The) Eve Of Destruction

P.F. Sloan

All The Best Records, 1993

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._F._Sloan

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/05/1998

If you were growing up in the mid-'60s listening to the radio, the name P.F. Sloan may ring a bell with you. He was the songwriter behind such hits as "Eve Of Destruction" (a hit for Barry McGuire) and "Secret Agent Man" (for Johnny Rivers), but he met with brick wall after brick wall every time he tried to record his own songs... kind of reminds me of the movie Grace Of My Heart.

However, it has only been recently that Sloan has gotten the chance to release an album of his own work, and while (Still On The) Eve Of Destruction has a few warts, one wonders what the hell the suits were thinking back around 1968 when they said "no" to his recording solo.

With the assistance of a few friends, Sloan shows he has a capable, if not stellar, voice to give life to his creations. It is quite powerful in the gentle moments, and is right at home when the tempo is increased. He likewise is a capable musician on guitar and keyboards, but I often wished he hadn't resorted to electronics in the keyboard department. Acoustic piano is so much prettier.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Sloan took a big chance when he decided to re-record his two big hits - this could have been very dangerous. Luckily, the versions either stay in the same style or improve on the originals. While Rivers will always be the person who sang "Secret Agent Man," Sloan (with the help of Young Fresh Fellows as the backing band) is just as powerful of a vocalist on this track. However, he chose to update "Eve Of Destruction" to reflect some of the environmental risks we take each day, and the new version, while thought-provoking, is also much gentler than the original. (In one sense, the gentleness of the track could work to Sloan's disadvantage.)

But the highlight of (Still On The) Eve Of Destruction is a light-jazz rendition of "Crazy As A Daisy," a song which made me think of Tony Bennett for some reason. Sloan's delivery on this track is nothing short of incredible. Likewise, the ballad "Help Me Remember," complete with string quartet, is one of the more moving pieces of music I've heard recently.

But there are times when a touch of pretentiousness sneaks into the music, such as on "Beethoven's Delight". The problem isn't in the songwriting or Sloan's performance - it comes this time in the guise of pianist David Lanz - for some reason, the classical-tinged lines he plays clashes with the mood of the song, and it tended to distract me. After a few listens, it sounded a little more in focus, in Lanz's defense, and there's not much I've heard from Lanz I haven't at least liked. The synthesizers are a bit too much on songs like "Love Go Easy," songs which might have benefitted from more acoustic touches.

Guest vocalists John Auer and Ben Stringfellow (of The Posies) wisely limit their contributions to background vocals, and let Sloan have his long overdue place in the sun.

With the release of this album, one must wonder if Sloan will be making his voice heard again soon. I would argue that he should; (Still On The) Eve Of Destruction proves that he's got many more stories to tell, and as long as he's able to keep writing quality songs, why not continue to share them using his own instrument? Lord knows, he's waited long enough.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of All The Best Records, and is used for informational purposes only.