My brother bought this record when it first came out and I used to love listening to it. The other day something sparked a memory of it and I had this longing to hear it again. I was delighted to find it available as a c.d. so bought it and have been playing it in my car ever since. I love it just as much as I did all those years ago. There are 28 tracks on it and there are many delightful songs such as The Jabberwocky, The Owl and The Pussycat,The Song of Wandering Aengus and a wonderful rendition of The Walrus and The Carpenter. It may not be to everyone's taste as it takes the listener into a child's world of fantasy, fun and fairies.I am a singer and can't wait until I have grandchildren that I can share some of these songs with.
Donovan is one of my favourite artists, period! He's a very versatile man, a wonderful songwriter, a talented musician, and processes a rather unusual, but nevertheless beautiful voice which makes the listener really listen in carefully to what he has to say. When it comes to writing songs for small children, I don't think he has any equals. 'HMS Donovan' was his second album aimed at the little ones. It was released in 1971, originally as a double record, but this CD re-issue compiles all 28 songs onto a single disc.
Like the rest of Donovan's children's albums, the music here is good enough for the adults to quickly become fond of. 'HMS Dovovan' is a simple, fairy-tale themed release with all kinds of delightful kiddie songs, Scottish tales in a traditional sense, and lots of pretty poems. The dreamy, folky sounds with Donovan's vocals layered on the top are a wonderful combination.
The beautiful 'Voyage of the Moon' is my standout track, followed by the charming opening track 'Lord of the Dance', which is almost impossible to not have stuck in your head within a couple of hearings.
I first purchased HMS DONOVAN as a double LP set at a Record Bar (remember them?) in my hometown of Greenville SC. It was the Summer of 1971 and I had just completed my Freshman year in college. I was not a big fan of Donovan's but his HURDY GURDY MAN album of a few years earlier was a personal favorite. When I saw that this album was essentially a musical setting of children's nursery rhymes and poetry I couldn't resist even though, as an import from England, it cost almost twice as much as a regular double LP. I was also enchanted with the cover artwork by the Irish artist Patrick which showed the various characters such as THE WALRUS & THE CARPENTER. As soon as I got home I put it on my high school stereo (a plastic orange General Electric model with detachable speakers purchased at K-Mart) and was immediately transported. I still have that LP 40 years later so that if all else fails, I'll be able to return to it for comfort and inspiration (I still have a turntable but not the GE). For the time being I'll use the CD.
One of the beauties of this album is that, with the exception of one song (HOMESICKNESS), it's entirely acoustic. Just Donovan and his unmistakable voice accompanied by his guitar with the occasional discreet orchestration. Side 1 begins with Lewis Carroll's THE WALRUS & THE CARPENTER followed by JABBERWOCKY. Other poetry settings include Edward Lear's THE OWL & THE PUSSYCAT, Sydney Carter's THE LORD OF THE DANCE and William Butler Yeats' THE SONG OF WANDERING AENGUS. Nursery rhymes include TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR, COULTER'S CANDY, and WYNKEN, BLYNKEN & NOD. There's also original compositions like MR WIND, CELIA OF THE SEALS and IN AN OLD FASHIONED PICTURE BOOK done in the same, simple acoustic style. His setting of the traditional pirate ballad HENRY MARTIN is hypnotic. If you love acoustic music, the simplicity and innocence of childhood, and literary references then this album is a necessity. Once heard, it cannot be forgotten and it possesses the greatest gift of all, it's timeless.
There is not much add except that Amazon just have selected highlights of the track listings and no mechanism to update the product info on track listings. The full track listing is:
1. Walrus And The Carpenter 2. Jabberwocky 3. Seller Of Stars 4. Lost Time 5. Little White Road 6. Star 7. Coulter's Candy 8. Road 9. Things To Wear 10. Owl And The Pussycat 11. Homesickness 12. Fishes In Love 13. Mr Wind 14. Wynken Blynken And Nod 15. Celia Of The Seals 16. Pee Song 17. Voyage Of The Moon 18. Unicorn 19. Lord Of The Dance 20. Little Ben 21. Can Ye Dance 22. In An Old-Fashioned Picture Book 23. Song Of Wandering Aengus 24. Funny Man 25. Lord Of The Reedy River 26. Henry Martin 27. Queen Mab 28. La Moora
and it stll comes in at 74 (odd) minutes and fits on one disc
"Where has our soft glow gone? To sleep within our hearts" so quoth the bard of all things naive and mythical in the sleevenotes to this,his magnificent fairytale compendium of an album,and that glow is certainly re-awakened by a peaceful cosy listen to this collection of Victoriana steeped music and magic. Donovan's double LP length excursion deep into the smokey world of sobbing walruses,fairy realms and the dewey evenings of childhood hits the spot in your heart that no other disc of then or now ever could,a sepia tinted land of childhood innocence and spirit inhabited otherworldliness that can actually evoke feelings dormant since infanthood. From the beautiful cover paintings-the Edwardian children's book style illustrations of the singer lounging in a mysterious meadow in full sailor's garb clutching his storybook surrounded by the songs' subjects in all their cosmic glory,a pot of stars at his feet-the mood is set. Quiet folky strummings wash into poetry recitals set to trickling catchy tunes and melodies,filled with mystical beasties,goblin trains rushing 'neath thistles and children stolen away by playful fairies to rowan woods,all delivered in Donovan's settling Celtic burr to calm the strained nerves.The whole disc flows like a misty river of imagery and dream,the highlights being an arresting take on the traditional 'Henry Martin',complete with a broad Scottish brogue and Don's patented vocal reverb technique;the ethereal 'Things To Wear',acapella and gently awash with fairytale mystery;foot tapping jig 'Can Ye Dance' set in a whirl of deftly plucked guitar and joyously precise singing;and one of Donovan's greatest songs,the towering and heartwarming 'Celia Of The Seals',the best environmental ditty ever concocted,stuffed with magical chord changes and a beautiful vocal. Like a turn of the century sweet box,this compendium reveals new goodies upon every opening,hangs together perfectly and does exactly what it intends to do,a treat for all ages who wish to lose themselves in that netherworld of memory and wonder.
I've been listening to this set a lot recently. Bear in mind it is much longer than most of the other DOnovan albums and those contain tracks which are okay but which the album could've parhaps done without. In other words, I think if a bit of fat was trimmed from it, I'd be saying it's one of my possible all-time favourites. Having said that, I feel there are some really beautiful songs on here. There's quite a few tracks which are essentially musical translations of several famous children's poets/writers and most of them work really well. My favourite tracks on the album are 'Jabberwocky', 'The Little White Road', Celia Of The Seals, 'Queen Mab', 'The Song Of Wandering Aengus' and 'The Seller Of Stars. Donovan's vocals are superb throughout and some of the guitar playing is amazing (I do wonder on some tracks, as to wether or not they have 2 guitar parts, overdubbed, or just one guitar, played with great skill. Either way, it's hard for me to envision better use of the acoustic guitar). I've heard some terrific music from this chap, and I remain undecided as to wether this is the best Donovan set I've bought yet. WHat I can say is that although this CD contains it's fair share of medoicre tracks, the better tracks reign supreme and the magical, folk-esque theme throughout the album is enough to warrant a very healthy 4.5/5 star rating. I hope to hear many albums of a similar nature in the future.
One of my friends had bought the original vinyl when it was first released and I have been looking for it for ages. Brings back many a happy memory and looking forward to letting my Grandchildren grow up with it.
Not for the faint hearted but for every true fan with a good sense of humour. This is the album which lost Donovan favour with the critics but it is great for the child within everybody. It includes nursery rhymes, stories and downright silliness. What this does not work as is as an introduction to Donovan - it is a far cry from 'Sunshine Superman'. What it does work as is as a fun album to confuse friends at late night get togethers. Donovan's voice, both in speech and in song, is beautifully mytical and mischevous. He is the minstrel of the beautiful people.