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VINE VOICEon 14 March 2006
Dovetailing quite neatly with the Pye/Epic material recently repackaged by EMI, this double-CD collects everything released by Donovan prior to Sunshine Superman. In the UK these were on Pye and in America on Hickory.
The first CD contains Donovan's first LP, What's Bin Hid And What's Been Did (tracks 3-14), comprising six of his own songs and five covers. Although compared by the press at the time to Bob Dylan, it is clear that the comparison is no more valid than for dozens of other folkies of the time, and that lyrically Donovan had a far more romantic, sensuous and less political outlook, though both share common roots, such as Woody Guthrie (Car Car), Blind Willie Johnson (You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond) and Mississippi John Hurt (Candy Man).
Donna Donna had been recorded by Joan Baez but is a Yiddish song originally called Dana Dana Dana (written by Aaron Zeitlin for a play called Esterke). Remember The Alamo dates back to Tex Ritter in 1955, but was probably learned from a later version, and Goldwatch Blues was written by a contemporary on the circuit, Mick Softley. Donovan's own songs include Catch The Wind, a perfect song, and To Sing For You, which he famously sang for Bob Dylan in the film Don't Look Back.
The bonus tracks on CD1 are the single versions of Catch The Wind and Colours; the B-side of Catch The Wind; and a rare track that originally surfaced only on a French EP.
The second disc features the album Fairy Tale (tracks 5-16), was released only five months after the first and shows the speed with which musicians could develop in the mid-sixties. Donovan's eight originals include the magnificent Sunny Goodge Street and other great songs such as To Try For The Sun and the Ballad Of Geraldine (sung in the first person). Shawn Phillips, who was to add sitar and collaborate on many of Donovan's later recordings, plays guitar on some of the tracks, and contributes his song The Little Tin Soldier. Donovan pays homage to fellow Glaswegian Bert Jansch with Oh Deed I Do, recently revived by the Eighteenth Day Of May, the other cover being Paul Bernath's distinctive Circus Of Sour.
The disc opens with Donovan's anti-war EP The Universal Soldier. The Buffy Sainte-Marie title track was a top twenty hit in its own right in the UK and the EP included a shorter version of The Ballad Of A Crystal Man as well as more Bert Jansch and Mick Softley songs. Disc 2 is rounded off with a single recorded after the album, Turquoise, with its strangely titled flip Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness). This seems to be an update of Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe's Can I Do It For You?, given a bit of an acoustic Bo Diddley beat, and it closes the disc in fine style.

Although some of Fairy Tale has appeared in true stereo on previous compilations, both discs are presented in mono.
33 comments46 of 47 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 April 2009
This was the right man to set the agenda for the Sixties.

And this is the right collection to buy if you can back it up with Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman from other collections. The title comes from the original Pye Records promotion for Sunny Goodge Street.

The songs on this double album are simple and accompanied almost exclusively on a guitar played in a way that many beginners can imitate. But if the songs are simple and the accompaniment unremarkable there is something very precious, individual and amost fragile about Donovan's talent that makes you glad to have lived through the sixties as a teenager. So for anyone who did, and also for those unfortunate to have been too old or still too young to get the background vibes to these songs, I can recommend this as a mellow trip down summer sunshine lane to a place that no longer exists. But ought to.

The anti-war songs are poignant from Buffy St Marie's Universal Soldier through to the Ballad of a Crystal Man. This is simplicity elevated to fine art through the crucible of heartfelt honesty.

Never mind about the sixties; if Donovan could have set the agenda for the subsequent fifty years the world might be a less hostile place.
0Comment13 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Born 'Donovan Phillips Leitch' in May 1946 'Scottish Born' Singer-Songwriter.
'Donovan' started by imitating Folk-Hero 'Bob Dylan' first getting public attention
with appearances on 'Ready Steady Go' back in 1965,
By the end of that year 'Donovan' had achieved three Chart entries with 'Catch
The Wind' (Chart '4') 'Colours' (Chart '4') and 'Turquoise// Ballad of A Crystal Man'
(Chart '30') 'Donovan' had arrived.
I tend to look upon 'Donovan' as U.K's answer to 'America's' 'Bob Dylan' only a little
more tuneful vocally than his U.S counterpart.
This 2-CD set reflects his early works he continued beyond these early years to chart
with songs like 'Mellow Yellow' 'Jennifer Juniper' and 'Hurdy Gurdy Man'
'Donovan' had chart success both sides of the 'Atlantic' in fact he achieve a 'Billboard'
number 'one' with 'Sunshine Superman' a fete surprisingly not quite achieved here in
the U.K.
There are many favourites harboured within this 2-CD collection for me aside from the
four numbers mentioned as chart-entries in 1965.....among them, on disc one..........
'Remember the Alamo' (originally recorded by 'Johnny Cash') 'Goldwatch Blues'
'To Sing For You' 'Donna Donna' and 'Ramblin' Boy' .....some of the many great
numbers on disc one......on disc two 'Universal Soldier' 'The War Drags On'
'Candy Man' 'The Little Tin Soldier' and 'Ballad of Geraldine' .......just some of
the truly classic tracks harboured on disc two.
Folk-Singer Protest Singer yup, fills both trends just as his U.S counterpart did, I
believe his music to be right up there with the best of the sixties Heroes.
'Donovan' still performs to this day, this collection a great reflection of 'Donovan's'
true Talent, well worth owning as a collector. ..`
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 May 2012
This double CD is excellent value. Takes me right back to the 60s. Don't know if it's been digitally enhanced but it sounds exactly the same as I remember. A great find.
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on 18 December 2010
has to be one of the all time great ballad cds.it has nearly all of his greatest hits and a great price.
0Comment1 of 1 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 March 2011
In my opinion, Donovan hasn't had the best record company behind him, endless, and sometimes pointless re-issues seem to be put out every month. This double CD set is a big improvement on some of Donovans re-issues. I seem to spilt the tracks into 2 categories, his gentle whimsical style, and then the protest songs. To be honest, I have another single CD of Donovans, put out by See For Miles years ago in their EP collection series, it contains the hits, but is a little lacking. I purchased this double set for the instrumental track Tangerine Puppet, again, in my collection on a Marble Arch (remember 12/6d albums!), but I understand a bit of a rarity these days. Superb sound, and very informative notes are included on this highly recommended set. Is it my imagination, are were we all happier back in 1965?.
11 comment5 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 June 2013
Always liked Donovan-if you like folky type "modern" ballads, you'll like this. Think Irish John Denver and you'll have some idea. (Think he was Irish!)
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on 4 December 2012
I have no complaints with this item, whatsoever. Received by me both speedily and in perfect condition. Perfect sound quality being just another added bonus.
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on 4 February 2013
Some really beautiful stuff here. Quite a Dylanesque album (and I'm not the biggest fan of Bob), but still good, quality Donovan.
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on 19 July 2010
The 5 pound voucher submitted for this item was not deducted and I was invoiced the full price
33 comments0 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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