Gentle Soul

Gentle Soul

Pamela Polland formed the Gentle Soul with co-songwriter and singer Rick Stanley in 1966. Inspired by their mutual interest in meditation, metapysics and spiritual exploration, Pamela and Rick wrote, recorded and performed on the cutting edge of the Folk/Rock Era for the next three years. Although the Gentle Soul only released one album during that time, they surrounded themselves with the likes of Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, Van Dyke Parks, Jack Neitzche, Larry Knechtel, Paul Horn and many other talented musicians. Produced by Terry Melcher (The Byrds, Paul Revere & The Raiders), the Gentle Soul recordings have become a coveted classic, and the original vinyl album is now a pricey collector’s item.

In 2002, Sundazed Records re-mastered and released the entire Gentle Soul collection, (the album, the singles and some never-released demos), in one handsome compilation complete with wonderful photographs from Pamela’s memerobilia and recent interviews with Pamela and Rick.

The GENTLE SOUL were a California folk duo made up of singers/songwriters Rick Stanley and Pamela Polland who released one album in 1968. Surrounding themselves with talented musicians such as RY COODER, TAJ MAHAL and VAN DYKE PARKS to name a few, their music more or less bridged the folk-rock and singer-songwriter/soft rock eras. Their self-titled album was released to little fanfare and then quickly descended into obscurity. Although not a major work, it has become a classic of the sort and the LP version is extremely rare (and expensive).

This is gentle, acoustic-flavoured and very conventional folk by today’s standards: safe vibes, soft rock of the PETER, PAUL AND MARY and CAT STEVENS category. The high harmonies of Pollard and Stanley, however, are impeccable. The 11-track album, deftly produced by Terry Melcher (The BYRDS, PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS), features some dreamy orchestral instrumentation such as harpsichord, flute and cello, and Ry Cooder makes his presence felt on some very gutsy/bluesy tunes. The overall feel, however, is extremely mellow. As for the nine bonus tracks of the CD re-release, they are much poppier than the rest, sometimes showing influences from The BYRDS and The MAMAS & THE PAPAS in the harmonies and guitar parts.

Pamela Polland

Interview with Pam Polland
The following is the result of an email “interview” undertaken by Stephane Rebeschini.

“Aloha From Maui! (One of the Hawaiian islands)
How fun to get your letter about your Ry Cooder discography.

Was Gentle Soul a duo or a group ?? The record sleeve is not really clear about it.

Yeah – that was Columbia’s fault. They never credited US!! (meaning me and Rick Stanley, the core of the group). Rick and I were a duo, and over the three years we were together, we had various musicians as part of the roup, including Jackson Browne at one point. But everything was based round me and Rick and our song-writing partnership. The musicians listed were just there for the making of that album.

Have Gentle Soul issued singles ??

Yep – there were three, I believe. One or two had Taj Mahal and Ry on them.

I also have in my collection an Epic promo record “The Blockbusting label presents the Rockbusters” with various Epic artists: Kak, Kaleidoscope, Dino Valente, Sly Stone,… and Gentle Soul with “Younger Man Blue”. There is a b&w picture of Gentle Soul : three men and a woman. Who are these men??

I’m going to guess Rick Stanley, Riley Wildflower and Sandy Konifoff. They were with us the longest as group members.

Have you planned to reissue “Gentle Soul ” and “Pamela Polland” on CD?

It’s not my prerogative to do so. Columbia owns the masters.

Does Ry Cooder play on your 1972 album? He is not credited on the insert, but that has happened very often.

No, he did not play on my solo Columbia albums (Taj played on the second one). I try to be very exacting in the liner notes because I like to honor the musicians I work with. I did a lot of live performing with Ry in mid-60’s, but sadly, nothing was recorded that lasted.”

~ Pamela Polland

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…
From 2003 Sundazed compilation album Gentle Soul
gentle soul

  • Flying Thing (Previously Unissued)
  • Love Is Always Real
  • Marcus
  • Our National Anthem (Single B-Side)
  • See My Love (Song For Greg)
  • Song For Eolia
  • Song For Three (Single B-Aide)
  • Tell Me Love (Single A-Side)
  • Tell Me Love (Alternate Version)
  • Through A Dream
  • You Move Me (Single A-Side)
  • Young Man Blue