PF SLOAN Sailover (Hightone)

You might think that the first album in 13 years by grizzled protest veteran – he wrote “Eve Of Destruction”, y’know – PF Sloan (once eulogised in song by Jimmy Webb, no less) would be a major event, especially when it arrives boasting cameos from the likes of Frank Black, Garry Tallent and Lucinda Williams. Unfortunately, “Sailover” - an uncomfortable melange of new songs and re-recordings of some now several decades old – is less than impressive. Sloan’s well-intentioned social commentary is frequently sent stumbling by his verbose, clumsy lyrics; hamfisted and clunking phrases are all over this album like weeds. The musical backing rarely rises above a comfortable puddingy consistency, being a shapeless, quivering blob of sound. And whilst it might seem unfair to complain that “Eve Of Destruction” (remodelled here, as if you had to guess) is hardly “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, no such clemency can be applied to the many other occasions when this album is shrouded in the Zimmerman shadow. “Halloween Mary” is a curdled attempt to recreate Dylan’s thin, wild mercury music circa “Blonde On Blonde”, without a drop of the Bobfather’s eloquence; the title track’s not unpleasant Wilbury-esque stomp is sabotaged when the artist lapses into a nasal Dylan parody; and “PK & The Evil Dr Z” compounds its pillaging of “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” by opening its rambling narrative in the vicinity of an actual Dylan concert. (And who might the eponymous Dr Z be, d’you think? It doesn’t take a Mensan…no, hang on…)

“Sailover”, unfortunately, is a chore to get through: the tragedy is that with a little more nipping, tucking and fairy dust it has the potential to be a far greater work than it actually is. Fans will undoubtedly flock to it, but the casual listener might wonder what all the fuss is about.