April 25, 2014

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 61: Donovan ~ Greatest Hits

In addition to my 20,000 Vinyl LP collection I'm selling, I have reel-to-reel, pre-recorded tapes for sale as well (see link below). If interested, contact me by email please, not by a comment. 

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Donovan's Greatest Hits is the first of the greatest hits albums from Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. It was released in the United States in January 1969 (Epic Records BXN 26439 (stereo)), and in the United Kingdom in March 1969 (Pye Records NPL 18283 (monaural) / NSPL 18283 (stereo)). On reel-to-reel tape, Epic - HN 658 (Re-channeled for stereo).

The Greatest Hits album marked the high point of Donovan's popularity in both the United States and United Kingdom. Sunshine Superman reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and subsequently became the title track of Donovan's third album, Sunshine Superman. It was the first product from the highly successful three-year collaboration between Donovan and producer Mickie Most and is generally considered to be one of the first examples of the musical genre that came to be known as psychedelia.

On every album, no matter how many good or great songs there are, there is always one that is THE favorite for everyone. For me, that song is Sunshine Superman. The Greatest Hits album presents the unedited Sunshine Superman (one minute, fifteen seconds longer than the original 1966 single and album release).

There have been many covers of Superman; a sort-of-punk version by Husker Du, Jewel, a VERY mellowed-down one by Mel Tormé, and many others; even Hungarian jazz quitarist, Gabor Szabo, took a turn at it. Links to music videos below.

Donovan's Greatest Hits contains three singles that were previously unreleased on any album, Epistle to Dippy, There Is a Mountain and Laléna.          

Donovan's follow-up single, Colours, was also a hit, and after making his American debut at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he issued Fairytale, his second and last LP for the Hickory label. Signing with Epic in 1966, he released his breakthrough album, Sunshine Superman, which in its exotic arrangements and pointedly psychedelic lyrical outlook heralded a major shift from his previous work; the title track topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, with Mellow Yellow reaching the number two spot a few months later. Donovan remained a chart fixture throughout 1967, generating a series of hits including Epistle to Dippy, There Is a Mountain, and Wear Your Love Like Heaven; that year he traveled to India alongside the Beatles to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a journey which inspired him to renounce drug use and encourage his listeners to turn to meditation. The ambitious double album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden followed, and in 1968 Donovan resurfaced with The Hurdy Gurdy Man, scoring a Top Five smash with the hallucinatory title cut; the record also yielded the hit Jennifer Juniper

Sue Lyon, (Lolita (1962), The Night of the Iguana (1964), The Flim-Flam Man (1967) and Evel Knievel (1971), came into Donovan's life at the end of 1965. This was two or three years before he met his "Jennifer Juniper" (Jenny Boyd). Lyon had starred in "Lolita" and "Night of the Iguana" before meeting Donovan. The couple dated until 1967 when Sue ended the relationship abruptly. Donovan had evidently slipped LSD in Sue's and her friend's drinking cup at a party. Sue described her trip as "frightening and disturbing" and she "felt her self-control disintegrating". After this incident Lyon never spoke to Donovan again until 1975. The two are now good friends and Sue attended Ione Skye's (Donovan's daughter) marriage to King Ad-Rock (with the Beastie Boys)

When Donovan hit the scene he was called "Britain's answer to Bob Dylan,". However, where most  of Dylan's music is bleak introspection and bitter realism, Donovan embraced the wide-eyed optimism of the flower power movement, his ethereal, ornate songs radiating a mystical beauty and childlike wonder; for better or worse, his recordings remain quintessential artifacts of the psychedelic era, capturing the peace and love idealism of their time to perfection.

Donovan was born, Donovan Leitch, on May 10, 1946 in Glasgow and raised outside of London; at 18 he recorded his first demo, and in 1965 was tapped as a regular on the television pop showcase Ready, Steady, Go! He soon issued his debut single "Catch the Wind," earning the first round of Dylan comparisons with his ramshackle folk sound and ragamuffin look; the single nevertheless reached the U.K. Top Five, with a subsequent meeting between the two singer/songwriters captured in the classic D.A. Pennebaker documentary, Don't Look Back.

Sunshine Superman lyrics
Sunshine came softly through my a-window today
Could've tripped out easy a-but I've a-changed my ways
It'll take time, I know it but in a while
You're gonna be mine, I know it, we'll do it in style
'Cause I made my mind up you're going to be mine

I'll tell you right now
Any trick in the book now, baby, all that I can find
Everybody's hustlin' just to have a little scene
When I say we'll be cool I think that you know what I mean
We stood on a beach at sunset, do you remember when?
I know a beach where, baby, a-it never ends
When you've made your mind up forever to be mine

Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm
I'll pick up your hand and slowly blow your little mind
'Cause I made my mind up you're going to be mine
I'll tell you right now
Any trick in the book now, baby, all that I can find

Superman or Green Lantern ain't got a-nothin' on me
I can make like a turtle and dive for your pearls in the sea, yeah!
A you-you-you can just sit there a-thinking on your velvet throne
'bout all the rainbows a-you can a-have for your own
When you've made your mind up forever to be mine
I'll pick up your hand and slowly blow your little mind
When you've made your mind up forever to be mine

I'll pick up your hand
I'll pick up your hand


Track listing:

All tracks written by Donovan Leitch.

Side one:

1 - Epistle to Dippy – 3:08
2 - Sunshine Superman (long version) – 4:32
3 - There Is a Mountain – 2:33
4 - Jennifer Juniper – 2:40
5 - Wear Your Love Like Heaven – 2:23
6 - Season of the Witch – 4:54

Side two:

1 - Mellow Yellow – 3:37
2 - Colours (1968 version) – 4:10
3 - Hurdy Gurdy Man – 3:15
4 - Catch the Wind (1968 version) – 5:01
5 - Laléna – 2:54


Released; January 1969
Recorded; January 1966 – September 1968
Length; 39:07
Label: Epic - HN 658

Links to music videos on youTube:

Styrous® ~ Friday, April 25, 2014

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