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Music Review: Barry McGuire – Eve Of Destruction

Barry McGuire has served in The United States Navy, worked as a fisherman, a pipe fitter, was a part of the successful folk group, The New Christy Minstrels, and has been a noted and successful contemporary Christian singer for over three decades. Despite all of these varied experiences, he remains known for his only top forty hit which reached the number one position on The American singles charts 45 years ago.

P.F. Sloan wrote “Eve Of Destruction” with The Byrds in mind. After they and The Turtles turned the song down, he went into the studio with some noted session musicians including drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Larry Knetchel, and himself on lead guitar. Barry McGuire was co-opted to provide the vocal. They did a trial run-through where he provided a gruff vocal intending to come back the next day to provide a more polished take. Sloan decided to release the rough version and it would go on to sell in excess of a million copies.

This tale of the apocalypse struck a resonant chord during the summer of 1965. Such lines as; “you’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’” struck a resonant chord with the burgeoning protest movement. It also spawned a series of patriotic rebuttals. “Dawn Of Correction” by The Spokesmen was a direct response, but it would be Barry Sadler’s “Ballad Of The Green Berets” which would be the ultimate musical retort to the protest movement in The United States.

Barry McGuire and P.F. Sloan quickly assembled an album to cash in on the single's name and popularity. It was comprised of folk songs, Dylan tunes, and some original compositions. It would be moderately successful reaching number 37 on the Billboard Magazine album charts.

The album was a hit or miss affair, which was typical of many releases of this type at the time. His interpretation of the traditional folk tune “Sloop John B.” and We Five’s “You Were On My Mind” are competent. He should have stayed away from Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me” and “Baby Blue.” The odd surprise of the album was an emotional and haunting version of the Broadway song “Try To Remember.” The good and the bad all revolved around the title tune which could not be duplicated.

Eve Of Destruction, the album and the single, remains a statement of the times. The CD reissue is still available and provides an interesting if not essential listen. Barry McGuire is still out on the road singing his Christian music and "Eve Of Destruction.”

About David Bowling

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