May 26, 2008
Big Beat Records

Album Review

Lou Adler, the legendary producer and mogul who founded Dunhill Records, once told a reporter, "I gave Phil Sloan a pair of boots and a hat and a copy of the Dylan album (Bringing It All Back Home), and a week later he came back with ten songs, including 'Eve of Destruction.'" It's all but impossible to imagine P.F. Sloan's music without Bob Dylan's guiding influence, and in many respects he was the West Coast music biz's response to the wordy insouciance of Dylan's pre-motorcycle accident songs, but though the similarities are unavoidable, the comparisons also sell short Sloan's genuine talent as a songwriter. Sloan enjoyed a successful career as a tunesmith years before he wrote "Eve of Destruction," and if the success of Barry McGuire's recording of that song changed the direction of Sloan's career, there's a freshness and emotional honesty to his writing that shines through no matter how much he leans on Dylan's template, and at a time when the Bard of Hibbing's lyrics became increasingly abstract and elliptical, the directness of Sloan's broadsides about love and the state of the world felt potent and refreshing. P.F. Sloan recorded two albums and a handful of singles for Dunhill before he was dropped when his sales as a recording artist failed to match his success as a songwriter, and nearly all his work for the label is featured on the CD Here's Where I Belong: The Best of the Dunhill Years 1965-1967. Unlike many songwriters who failed to make an impression as a performer, Sloan was a fine singer whose interpretations of his own work easily stand beside those of others who enjoyed hits with his material (Sloan's take on "Eve of Destruction" is at once more subtle and urgent than McGuire's), and the best stuff here ranks with the top echelon of L.A. folk-rock of the period. All 12 songs from Sloan's debut LP, Songs of Our Times, are included (in their original sequence), but while only ten of the dozen tracks from the follow-up, Twelve More Times, make the cut, they sound more ambitious and are given a more full-bodied production that stands the test of time a bit better than the spare arrangements that dominate the first album. Five non-LP single sides round out the disc, which find Sloan dipping his toes into psychedelic pop with surprising success. Sloan would make only one more album during the '60s, and only three more after that as of 2008, making Here's Where I Belong a nearly definitive overview of Sloan's most celebrated period, as well as a fine summation of his most influential work.
Mark Deming, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Sins of a Family
  2. Take Me for What I'm Worth
  3. What Exactly's the Matter with Me
  4. I'd Have to Be Out of My Mind
  5. Eve of Destruction
  6. This Mornin'
  7. I Get Out of Breath
  8. This Is What I Was Made For
  9. Ain't No Way to 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
  13. From a Distance
  14. The Man Behind the Red Balloon
  15. Let Me Be
  16. Here's Where You Belong
  17. This Precious Time
  18. Halloween Mary
  19. I Found a Girl
  20. On Top of a Fence
  21. Lollipop Train (You Never Had It So Good)
  22. Upon a Painted Ocean
  23. City Women
  24. A Melody for You
  25. Sunflower, Sunflower
  26. Karma (A Study of Divinations)
  27. I Can't Help But Wonder, Elizabeth