on May 13, 2004
If this is one of those albums you're looking to upgrade from LP to CD, beware. Though the title, graphics, and song listings are the same as the original LP (except the bonus tracks), three songs are presented in their folksie versions: "Colours", "Catch the wind", and "Lalena". Though you might consider them equally as good as the LP versions, they're not the same.
on November 3, 2003
When the sixties rolled around, pop music began to reach a thirty-year golden age that wouldn't end until the latter half of the nineties. One of the greatest pop stars of the sixties was easily Donovan Leitch. This guy knew how to make pop songs that could easily be enjoyed by most audiences, regardless of your musical preference. Like any popular musician, there have been a number of Donovan hits compilations out there - this is one of many. How does this measure up? Read on and find out.
-As Amazon stated, this is the compilation for the casual fan that fills two discs of Donovan is too much, but zero is certainly too few. All the big hits are here for your listening pleasure, such as Lalena, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Sunshine Superman, and Mellow Yellow.
-You get a number of underrated masterpieces as well, which stress an important point - like most artists, there is much more to Donovan than the hits!
-This compact disc reissue of the hits compilation features some bonus tracks not available on nother formats.
-Even with the bonus tracks, this compilation still doesn't fill the eighty-minute time limit you can fit onto a compact disc. If you're gonna make a hits compilation, make it a budget-priced one or a non-budget-priced one, not something in between.
-There are better Donovan compilations out there. This one's really just for CASUAL fans.
Obviously this compilation isn't perfect, but it's all the casual fan of Donovan will ever need. If you're a Donovan die-hard, hunt down all the albums or buy a pricier compilation, but if you're a casual fan, just stick with this. It's doubtful it will fail to please.
on January 8, 2004
Although Donovan had several hits in the '60s, his work for the most part has become forgotten. His music rarely gets airplay on classic rock radio, although he was at his peak when Bob Dylan and the Beatles were. He doesn't receive much airplay on oldies radio either. Which is unfair as he certainly was one of the best songwriters of his era. The proof is here on Donovan's Greatest Hits. This collection contains some of the best psychedelic songs ever recorded, such as "Wear Your Love Like Heaven", "Hurdy Gurdy Man", "Jennifer Juniper", "Epistle To Dippy", and the huge hits "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman." The acoustic tracks "Colors", "Catch The Wind", "To Susan On The West Coast Waiting", and "Atlantis" are also great tracks, with the latter having a great outro which recalls the Beatles' "Hey Jude." Other great songs include the catchy "Barbajagal", "There Is A Mountain", whose rhythm the Allman Brothers would use for their classic "Mountain Jam", and "Season Of The Witch", which was Donovan at his heaviest. This is great music to have on when you have an incense stick burning and you're just chilling. Highly recommended.
on August 29, 2003
As a completist collector of hit singles from the 1950s and 1960s I must say I was delighted when this "expanded" version of the Epic CD came on the market with the additions of Atlantis, To Susan On The West Coast Waiting, Barabajagal, and Riki Tiki Tavi. That means that the only Donovan hits I still need to find are Universal Soldier [# 53 in 1965], Cella Of The Seals [# 84 in 1971], and I Like You [# 66 in 1973 and his last hit]. Why they didn't bite the bullet and include those three as well and make it an 18-selection CD is beyond me.
Donovan Leitch of Glasgow was certainly an enigma of sorts when, after emerging as just another Dylan clone in the U.K., he then proceeded to put "flower power" hit after hit on the North American charts at a time when The Stones, Beatles, etc., ruled the airwaves. And, let's be honest, he gave us some of the catchiest tunes of the day, led by Mellow Yellow [later a margarine commercial], Sunshine Superman, and my favourite, Jennifer Juniper.
His albums were also well-received, particularly 1967's Sunshine Superman, produced by the late Mickie Most and which included such gems as Young Girl Blues and Hampstead Incident. True, he did go a little weird in 1973 with his Cosmic Wheels in which he philosophizes about - among other things - an astronaut's toilet options in The Intergalactive Laxative.
But we're talking about his hit singles here, and this CD gives you most of them. In lieu of liner notes there is an opening greeting written by Donovan, several photographs of him at various stages of his life, including one in his birthday suit at about age 15 months I'd guess. There is also a complete discography of the contents, each followed by personal notes on the selection in question.
In bits of trivia, Donovan wrote the score for the 1969 film If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, appeared in The Pied Piper Of Hamlin  and Brother Sun, Sister Moon . His son Donovan Jr. is an actor as is daughter Ione Skye, who is also married to Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys. On Mellow Yellow the whisperer is Paul McCartney, and on the title track from Alice Cooper's 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies, Donovan sang co-lead.
It became fashionable among the elitists at Rolling Stone Magazine and the like to dismiss Donovan out of hand as "an aberration" - but that was a mistake. There is something of a genius at work here.
on June 11, 2003
To be brief, Donovan was a sixties Icon. To have a sixties collection, Donovan must be a part of it, crossing boundries and providing further definition as to what the 60's were truly about.
This collection is an excellent introduction to Donovan's many "faces". From his Dylanesque (many people called him the "British Bob Dylan", to his Psychedelic phases where many of his hits came from, to the more mature and rock crafted phase, and then full circle to more introspective.
If you like is Folk music, (Colours, Universal Soldier, Catch The Wind, etc) you can branch out to his "Summer Day Reflection Songs" CD which provide a true example of his Folk phase. (This is one of my favorite CD's, and this area of his music is highly underated).
For others who wish to hear more of his latter period, the "Love Is Hot, Truth Is Molten" CD (Australian Import)is excellent with great sound quality and stereo versions and of course the all inclusive "Troubadour" Box set covers much.
Many people forget his impact, having written the hit "Museum" covered by Herman's Hermits, to his "backup session players" which included The Jeff Beck Group ad Ron Wood, Madeline Bell, Suzie Quatro "Barabajagal", Paul McCartney and George Harrison (Mellow Yellow), and the then developing Jimmy Page, John Bonham, and John Paul Jones , (just listen to "Hurdy Gurdy Man"), Jim Gordon and Gabriel Mekler "Susan On The West Coast Waiting", "Atlantis". This CD is an excellent buy, with jems such as "There Is A Mountain", (very tropical) to Atlantis, (Great song and Lyrics").
A must buy you a collector. If you like this period of music, this is required. Worth it for "Sunshine Superman" alone. This CD is an excellent value, has all the major hits, with great good sound quality so you will not be disapointed.
on December 17, 2002
The 60s were such fun years, and Donovan was part of the fun. As the 60s wore on his music went from folk to psychedelic rock, stopping along the way at pop and ultimately ending up with music that had a faster beat with a harder edge ("Barabajagal", as an example).
I tend to divide Donovan's music (probably incorrectly, but it helps me to organize the scope of his music) into folk, hippie/psychedelic, and rock. The second category spans a large range in its own right, but generally includes peace, love and flower power songs with the slightly surreal.
Donovan's folk music might include "Colours", "Catch the Wind", "Lalena", "There Is a Mountain", and "Jennifer Juniper". Some of this music could also fit into the next category down, which takes no great stretch of the imagination because many folk singers ended up as part of the hippie movement.
The hippie/psychedelic music would include "Mellow Yellow", "Colours", "Hurdy Gurdy Man", "Epistle to Dippy", "Sunshine Superman", "Wear Your Love Like Heaven", "Season of the Witch", "Atlantis", and "To Susan on the West Coast Waiting". This last song is also an anti-war song relating to the Viet Nam war.
The faster paced music would be "Barabajagal" and "Riki Tiki Tavi". These two songs anchor one end of Donovan's music. I generally remember Donovan more for his hippie/psychedelic music, so I'll not spend any more time are these two songs.
Donovan did a very good job as a folk singer. Moving on to more surreal music was very little of a stretch for Donovan. Included in his music is a variety of styles and influences. "Catch the Wind" sounds a lot like Bob Dylan. "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is very psychedelic, and could owe influences to people like Jimi Hendrix. The Beatles have been credited with influences on songs like "Mellow Yellow".
My own personal favorite is "Atlantis". There was a strong desire in the 60s to ascribe a mystical origin to all civilizations, one which included a civilization greater and more peaceful than any in existence any time since; a sort of Eden of civilization, where arts and sciences were predominant and the people had nothing to fear from other civilizations or from each other. Where there was plenty for all and people were happy. This theme was a strong part of the hippie movement, which for some seemed to be a desire to recapture a past that as far as we know never existed.
I suppose every era would like the claim of being unique, and unlikely to be repeated. Looking back over the last six decades, certainly each was unique, but for most of those decades, while technology, education, political conditions and so on have changed significantly, the human condition has kept a remarkable similarity during most of that time. However, the 60s were an exception. Large numbers of people attempted to create a different sort of society; to create a different standard of civilization. In the course of that attempt, wonderful art was created. Donovan was a part of that attempt, and created some of the most interesting and socially reflective music of the era.
on July 24, 2002
If there was anyone on the pop scene in the middle 1960s that rivaled the brilliance and flamboyance of both Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, it was English superstar folkie Donovan Leitch. With Catchy melodies and colorful lyrics, he caught the imagination of the sixties generations with his playful and imaginative takes on the contemporary scene. He caused a major stir with "Mellow Yellow", which touted the supposed hallucinogenic properties of banana peels, when he knew perfectly well it was all a joke, and lambasted in military involvement in Vietnam in "Universal Soldier" (unfortunately not included here). But wonderful songs like "Colours", "Hurdy Gurdy Man", and "Catch The Wind", a paean to Dylan's "Blowing In The Wind'. He was immensely popular, and thoughtful and hypnotic love songs like "Lalena" certainly helped his reputation as a charismatic troubadour.
So too did Donovan's imaginative tale of the long lost city in "Atlantis", a major hit for him. He specialized in sweet confections like "Sunshine Superman", "There Is A Mountain', and "Jennifer Juniper", and with each of these and with "Season Of The Witch", Wear Your Love Like Heaven", and a playful "To Susan On The West Coast Waiting", he spun tall tales that were more fun and games than serious poetry put to music. He will always be remembered by babyboomers for his lovely sound and his sweetness and presence on stage, where he seemed to personally embody the sixties' vision of the new and more intelligent and sensitive male human being, more interested in love and whimsy than in war. This is a lovely collection of a wonderful artist's music, and one I can easily recommend. Enjoy!
on July 10, 2002
The odd thing about Donovan is that he produced some of the coolest tunes to come out of the 60s (Season of the Witch, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Sunshine Superman) and some of the most cringe-inducing (Lalena, Jennifer Juniper, and especially To Susan on the West Coast Waiting, a song I hadn't heard before I bought this CD and which is horrifyingly Barry Manilow-like). Everything else here falls somewhere in-between, depending on your tolerance/appreciation for Donovan's unabashedly flower-power sensibility. On the whole this is a great collection, with the balance tilted more toward coolness than dippiness. I must remark in passing on Donovan's liner notes, which are rather ickily self-important (for example, of Sunshine Superman he says "this was a new sound in a new age of pop music" and claims the song influenced Beck because Beck apparently used harpsichord once) and, well, New Agey (of There is a Mountain, which I think is a great song, he says "The lyric carries the listener into a Zen Koan. What's the answer? The answer is to dance into the spirit!"). Also, he looks uncannily like a skinny Marie Osmond in the photo on the front cover.
on August 14, 2001
Ah, now here's a record that takes me back to the 60s, when Donovan Leitch was THE psychadelic troubador. He got a lot of criticism back then for being too flowery, too folkie and even too chameleon-like. Songs like "Atlantis" At first the critics said he was trying to be Dylan; then they complained he was trying to be McCartney.
And yet, he produced a great collection of unique songs that could only have come from Donovan. I still remember riding in a car listening to "Mellow Yellow", which he humorously described as "a great song for shifting gears to". "Barabajagal" and "Superlungs" (not on this disk, unfortunately) have that great contrast between Jeff Beck's distorted guitar and Donovan's soft voice. And "Season of the Witch" became a classic, sung and recorded not just by Donovan wannabees but by scores of hard rockers- just listen to the version on the classic Bloomfield/Stills/Kooper "Supersession".
I've owned this collection on LP and casette both; with the added songs, it's the perfect time to being it back into my collection in CD form.
on May 14, 2001
After reading some of the prior reviews, I will agree that though Donovan may not be the lyricist of a Springsteen or Dylan, he, just like Jimi Hendrix, had the power of creativity within a five-year time span to develop songs and sounds that are now immortalized by fans and critics.
Very moody and catchy tunes include the Number 1 hit Mellow Yellow and the dark, sinister and yet delightful Season of the Witch. Hurdy Gurdy Man also espouses the changing mindset of pop culture in the late 1960s.
Perhaps the most famous of this collection is the other Number 1 hit Sunshine Superman, which, in its own way, highlighted the advancement of music that was and is being played on the airwaves. Just as the prominence of the violin in the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby and the use of the cello to close out the Beach Boys' Good Vibrations are highly regarded, Donovan's idea to harmonize guitar riffs with the harpsichord was no less original. Some might argue that it was more so.
And last, but not least, we have among these tracks a few of them that include some pre-Led Zeppelin instrumental contributions by Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham.