"Eve of Destruction" was so present on the airwaves at its height in 1965 that as it ended play on one station, it would start up on another, a dominating hit single which charted higher than any protest song written by Bob Dylan, the man whose own "Masters of War" must have inspired P.F. Sloan's classic protest song. Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" came close, stalling under the upper reaches of the Top 40 two weeks before McGuire grabbed the brass ring. McGuire even cut "Master's of War," appearing on his 1994 One Way Records Anthology album and evidence of the typecasting which decimated what should have been a huge radio presence beyond this title track and first and only hit. Five years before Ricky Nelson would chart with Dylan's "She Belongs to Me," McGuire makes it the first of two Dylan covers, throwing the similarities right in the listener's face. A Steve Barri/P.F. Sloan title, "You Never Had It So Good," follows that, and the theme and model becomes a bit redundant. Sure, people had commercialized the songs of Bob Zimmerman, but not to the extent where the man behind Carole King's eventual solo success, Lou Adler, along with the Grass Roots' initial production team of Sloan and Barri, would take a former New Christy Minstrel and turn him into a radio-friendly copy of the world-famous protest singer. Engineer Bones Howe, P.F. Sloan, Barri, and McGuire redesign the traditional "Sloop John B," a version that is much different from the Beach Boys', and it's a wise move which backslides and is eradicated as they go after Dylan's "Baby Blue," truly branding the innovative soul that is Barry McGuire. At least his reading of Sylvia Fricker's "You Were on My Mind" is original enough, though McGuire can't hit the notes the We Five's Beverly Bivens easily reached. The pulsating cover of the Ian & Sylvia tune doesn't come close to the We Five's arrangement and majesty which charted simultaneous with "Eve of Destruction," but it works so much better than the "imitation Bob" which permeates this package. The Beach Boys took the traditional "Sloop John B" Top Three in 1966, but McGuire did it first, and he also pre-dated Gladys Knight with a version of the standard "Try to Remember" ten years before she brought the title to popular radio. It is these three notable other covers which succeeded for Barry McGuire and indicated his potential. The man has tons of talent, as witnessed on his Christian albums like Lighten Up, and the dark sounds of his classic moment in the sun and gravelly voice (which probably influenced Alex Chilton) deserved much more success.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione