Sunday, October 6, 2013

Initial 16: P.F. Sloan (artist)

Being that it’s the second week of the month, we bring on a new Second Week Special and a quite an unusual one at that. For the next eight days, I am featuring the 16th letter of the English alphabet in the form of the initial “P.” In most cases, it shows up in the name of the artist; however, we’ll also feature three songs that use the initial in their titles.

Our first example comes from a man who had participated in every aspect of the music business, but was best known as a songwriter and session musician. P.F. Sloan was born Philip Gary Schlein; but when he was 12 years old, his father changed their surname to Sloan. The younger Sloan later adopted the artistic persona of P.F. Sloan – the “F” being a reference to his nickname “Flip.”

Sloan’s best known contributions to the music world were the compositions “Eve of Destruction” and “Secret Agent Man.” In 1965, Barry McGuire took the politically charged “Eve of Destruction” to the #1 slot. During the following year, Johnny Rivers had a #3 hit with the Sloan/Steve Barri composition of “Secret Agent Man.” It is said that P.F. Sloan originated the guitar riff that made the song famous.

Sloan also penned Top 40 hits for Herman’s Hermits, The Turtles, The Grass Roots, and Jan and Dean. Numerous other artists would also record his tunes. Sloan’s guitar work, as part of the famed Wrecking Crew, can be heard on a plethora of recordings. Up through 2006, Sloan was still recording material; however, his only charting single was the 1965 release of “The Sins of a Family.”

Hoping to capitalize on “Eve of Destruction,” Dunhill Records gave Sloan the opportunity to record two solo albums: “Songs of Our Times” and “Twelve More Times.” “The Sins of a Family,” which appeared on his debut album, charted at #87.

In the protest vein and with a dylanesque treatment, “The Sins of a Family” describes a young lady who is doomed by the cyclic nature of family tragedy. She was destined to commit the sins of her parents – mimicking the only role models that she had. “The stones been cast and blood’s thicker than water – oh, the sins of a family fall on the daughter.”

Steve Barri, Sloan's longtime recording and writing partner, produced the single. I don’t know if it is just me or not, but the right channel of the stereo version sounds out of phase when the instrumentation drops from the left channel. The left channel vocals and harmonica, however, sound fine.

There is also a mistake on the recording – Sloan, whom I am assuming is playing the Dylan style harmonica, blew into the microphone at several times during recording. It’s a wonder they didn’t re-record this track; however, it is not noticeable on the mono rendition of the song as the breaths are lost in the mix.  

1 comment:

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