Listen to this and then we'll talk.
"Halloween Mary" - P.F. Sloan
(from the 1966 album Twelve More Times)
After listening to that song you can understand
why singer/songwriter/producer Philip (P.F.
"Flip") Sloan was sometimes referred to as the
poor man's Bob Dylan. Sloan never became a
household name but he and his partner Steve
Barri wrote, produced and performed on some
of the greatest recordings of the 1960s!
It was Sloan's voice that Jan Berry used as the lead falsetto on Jan and Dean's 1963 smash hit "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena." Sloan and Barri's vocals were also added to the mix on several other Jan and Dean recordings.
Sloan and Barri wrote
"(Here They Come) From All Over the World," the Jan and Dean recording used as the theme song
for the epic 1964
T.A.M.I. Show (Teenage Awards Music International).
"(Here They Come) From All Over the
World" - Jan and Dean (March 1965,
highest chart position #56)
Sloan and Barri achieved a sound similar to Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys when they recorded their own surf rock material using the name The Fantastic Baggys.
"Summer Means Fun" - Fantastic Baggys
(Summer 1964, uncharted)
"Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'" - Fantastic Baggys
(Summer 1964, uncharted)
At Dunhill Records Sloan and Barri wrote Barry McGuire's
"Eve of Destruction" and Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" which became the opening titles theme of Secret Agent,
the American broadcast of the British spy series Danger Man.
The pair also scribed two of my favorites by the Turtles, "You Baby" and the Dylanesque "Let Me Be."
"Let Me Be" - Turtles (November 1965,
highest chart position #29)
Sloan and Barri penned what I consider to be the best and most listenable of all Herman's Hermits' recordings, the top 10 hit "A Must to Avoid."
"A Must to Avoid" - Herman's Hermits
(January 1966, highest chart position #8,
clip from 1966 motion picture Hold On! )
Sloan became a session guitarist for Dunhill. He created and recorded the distinctive guitar intro for "California Dreamin'", the first hit for the Mamas and Papas, and played lead guitar on that as well as "Monday, Monday."
Sloan and Barri founded the Grass Roots and wrote their early material including the best song to come out of the groups folk-rock phase, one that I have come to like even more than the Dell song "Let's Live for Today." It's called "Where Were You When I Needed You."
"Where Were You When I Needed You"
- Grass Roots (July 1966, highest chart
I saved the best for last. My favorite recording by the P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri duo is the one they made as The Street Cleaners called "That's Cool, That's Trash." The single was released by the Amy/Mala/Bell label group in late 1964 and has a call-and-response structure similar to "That's Life (That's Tough)," a minor hit for Gabriel & the Angels two years earlier.
Sloan and Barri sound a lot like the Kingsmen on this one
and the Pac Northwest band recorded a cover of this song. In addition, the Kingsmen hit "The Jolly Green Giant" which was released around the same time, sounds very similar to the Street Cleaners record. You'll also hear similarities to
the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" at the end of the song.
Listen now to my Pick to Click for the talented team
of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri...
a way cool teen party record that never charted. It lingered on the fringe of my memory all these years and came roaring back to life recently when I discovered it on YouTube.
"That's Cool, That's Trash"
- The Street Cleaners
(December 1964, uncharted)
The terms one-hit-wonder and no-hit-wonder are commonly used to describe records that never made it. They are dismissive labels that rarely tell the whole story. Shady's Law reminds us that chart performance had little or nothing to do with quality. "That's Cool, That's Trash" is a lost treasure...
a garage/frat rock nugget that kicks butt all over town!
We also need to remember the unsung heroes of rock n' roll, guys like P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri who spent years working hard behind the scenes and away from the limelight. Sloan and Barri should be the poster boys for Shady's Law. They created many great songs that didn't perform well on the chart along with many others that became major 60s hits for other artists. Few people made greater contributions to the mushrooming pop music scene during the mid sixties!
Jan and Dean.....
I don't know about you but I'm ready
for summer, and in my next post I'm
kicking off a three month long series
entitled Summer Means Fun! Gas up
your woodie... wax up your board...
smear on the sunscreen and join me!
Have a Shady day!
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