November 28, 2006

Donovan



I'm too young to have been an official hippy or flower child of the '60's, but that has never stopped me from loving all the "groovy" music from that era. My all time favorite is Donovan.

I'm going to be lazy and just cut and paste someone else's description of his music because they said much better than I could:

Donovan, Sunshine Superman (1966)

No record better epitomizes the early, starry-eyed days of the hippy era than this seductive, low-key blend of Eastern exotica and druggy folk music. So much in tune with the times that it easily could be mistaken for a much later recording, Donovan Leitch's second and best-known LP alternates between ethereal, loosely structured mood pieces that highlight sitar and tabla ("Ferris Wheel"), and methodically produced orchestrated rock with clever string, mellotron and harpischord arrangements ("Celeste"). Donovan's gentle, slowly-paced baritone vocals and fanciful verbal imagery work perfectly with the material, and his songwriting is consistently solid. So there are tons of high points: the funky, harpsichord-driven title track, a #1 hit featuring Jimmy Page on guitar; "Season Of The Witch," a superb acid rocker with an unforgettable, loping beat; the surprisingly professional, Simon & Garfunkel-like jazz diversion "Bert's Blues"; the super-mellow Eastern/Elizabethean blend "Guinevere"; and the wry hippy anthem "Fat Angel," which mentions the Jefferson Airplane and later was covered by them. There are some lapses in taste - the seven-minute "Legend Of A Girl Child Linda" goes over the top with an experimental string/woodwind arrangement, "The Trip" is a predictable electric Dylan imitation, and the mock-Indian tunes are occasionally unfocused and pretentious ("Three King Fishers"). But you wouldn't expect anything else from such a quintessential 60s record. Donovan's next four albums through 1969 all sold strongly, as did a series of singles including "Mellow Yellow" (with Paul McCartney on bass), "Hurdy Gurdy Man," "Atlantis," and "Goo Goo Barabajagal" (where he was backed by the Jeff Beck Group). By 1970 the public had lost its taste for psychedelic folk, but Donovan released several more albums during the 70s and attempted a comeback in the late 90s. (JA)

6 comments:

Bruce said...

I'm not too young to have been a flower child(even though I wasn't, lol). I had forgotten about "Season of the Witch"; it's an eerie and haunting song, and "Mellow Yellow" was his signature song. I liked Donovan...

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Wow! I'm only 36, but only my Mom and the DJs on Underground Garage on Sirius radio ever bring Donovan up, and he was quite cool. Very nice, Layla!

Layla said...

Bruce - what you chose NOT to be a hippy? But I can imagine you in a tie-dyed t-shirt and hair down to your waist....

Ray, Your mom? Gee, you know how to make a girl feel old. I am NOT old enough to be your mom that's for sure.

But I do LOVE Donovan :)

Jeff said...

He's incredible. I enjoy his folk music more than the more "groovy" music. I could listen to "Catch the Wind" over and over again and it would never get old. In the end, I enjoy all of his music, he's certainly overlooked in rock history.

Bruce said...

I was a late bloomer, dear. ;-)

Layla said...

Jeff, I am so glad you like him! That makes me smile.

Bruce, better late than never :)

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