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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 14 December 2015
In 1965, nineteen year old Donovan Leitch exploded onto the music scene via his television appearances on the then new music show 'Ready, Steady Go', where he performed his original songs with only the aid of his guitar, and became an instant success. It was a remarkable year for music, and this multi-talented folkie from Glasgow, Scotland released two highly acclaimed, bestselling albums on the Pye label. The first was 'What's Bin Hid and What's Bin Did, and the second was 'Fairytale', issued a few months after.

Here we have a collection of gentle, storytelling songs, all of them with a laid-back, tender, traditional folk style, often with shades of Bob Dylan in terms of the number of them which offer a social commentary and talking point. This is how the elfin-faced troubadour sounded before his remarkable work with producer Mickie Most a few years after, and some of these early gems represent him at his best. This is 'Ready Steady Go' Donovan.

'Fairytale' contains, amongst other noteworthy Donovan milestones, the classic hit single 'Colours', and the haunting, rather jazzy 'Sunny Goodge Street', which are jewels in the man's crown. With this deluxe CD edition from Sanctuary Records in 2002, you're listening experience is even enriched further with the inclusion of six outstanding bonus tracks from this legendary poet whose lyrics have the power to conquer up all kinds of wonderful imagery when you sit down on a nice Summer's day and listen in. My favourites out of the added extras are 'Universal Soldier' and 'The War Drags On', which prove, with hindsight, that it wasn't just Bob Dylan who was a master of his craft as a political songwriter. Was Donovan a poor man's equivalent of the American artist though? - I just can't see it.

I really love the album, and although I regard Donovan's debut: What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid in very high regard, I do think that 'Fairytale' was much superior. The song-writing was stronger, the style was showing those little signs of progressing from folk and branching into other styles, and ultimately it was a taster of the master-work which was followed. If you want to hear the best of Donovan at the start of his sixties work, then this classic album is the one to invest in, and treasure.
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Released in October 1965 – "Fairytale" was Donovan's 2nd album for Pye Records - and in 2016 is a very hard-to-find 60ts Folk-Rock classic on original vinyl. The British version was MONO-only on release while the Hickory Records US edition came in both MONO and STEREO with a slightly altered track configuration (drops the Bert Jansch song "Oh Deed I Do" and adds on a hit single – his cover of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier"). To confuse matters more – the UK budget label Marble Arch Records reissued the vinyl album as a 10-tracker in 1969 by dropping two key tracks – "Colours" and "The Little Tin Soldier". Luckily this superb Sanctuary Records 'Expanded Edition' CD Reissue/Remaster from 2002 will allow fans to sequence all three 'Mono' variants. Here are the breezy details...

UK released February 2002 (reissued April 2010) – "Fairytale" by DONOVAN on Castle Music/Sanctuary CMRCD 360 (Barcode 5050159136025) is an 'Expanded Deluxe Edition' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (53:52 minutes):

1. Colours
2. I'll Try For The Sun
3. Sunny Goodge Street
4. Oh Deed I Do
5. Circus Of Sour
6. The Summer Day Reflection Song
7. Candy Man
8. Jersey Thursday
9. Belated Forgiveness Plea
10. The Ballad Of A Crystal Man
11. The Little Tin Soldier
12. The Ballad Of Geraldine
Tracks 1 to 12 are his 2nd album "Fairytale" – released June 1965 in the UK on Pye Records NPL 18128 in Mono Only. All songs are Donovan originals except "Universal Soldier" by Buffy Sainte-Marie, "Oh Deed I Do" by Bert Jansch, "The Little Tin Soldier" by Shawn Phillips, "Candy Man" by Mississippi John Hurt and "Circus Of Sour" by Paul Bernath.

13. Universal Soldier
14. The Ballad Of A Crystal Man
15. The War Drags On
16. Do You Hear Me Now
17. Turquoise
18. Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)

To sequence the US 1965 Mono LP variant of "Fairytale" (Hickory LPM-127) use the following tracks:
Side One: 13, 2, 3, 1, 5 and 6
Side Two: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12

To sequence the UK 1969 Mono 10-track version of "Fairytale" (Marble Arch MAL 867) use the following tracks:
Side One: 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
Side Two: 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12

The very cool card slipcase repro’s the original 1965 UK album sleeve with DONOVAN bowing his head on the rear photo surrounded by Folk-groovy types. The LP's liner notes on the simulated flip-back cover declared that the contents within were "Songs For Sunshine People" – and in this particular case - the hype was right. STEPHEN HAMMONDS and ANTHONY AMOS co-ordinated the project for Sanctuary, LORNE MURDOCH does the in-depth liner notes (he handled the first 1991 CD reissue) and long-time and much-respected Audio Engineer ANDY PEARCE did the Remaster at Masterpiece Studios in London. The audio is great – very clear and clean and full of presence and not too hissy in that way some Sixties recordings can be.

The album's opener "Colours" is a balls-to-the-wall 60's classic - it truly is. "Fairytale" features a lot of tracks like that - just Donovan and his acoustic guitar, banjo, harmonica - more Folk than Pop really. In fact when you hear almost any track on this very hard-to-find LP - it's easy to see why Donovan was often referred to as Britain's Bob Dylan. And it wasn't just because of the similar vocal styles - they were both such good songwriters and commentators on their times. There are great lyrics in here as well as tunes.

Highlights include "The Ballad Of A Crystal Man" which is represented on this disc twice - the full album version (track 10) and the edited EP version (track 14) - it's a fantastically strong and emotive anti-Vietnam piece equal to anything his Bobness put out on the other side of the pond. Lyrically the other songs are equally clever and even witty too. There's a "...violent hash smoker..." in "Sunny Goodge Street" - while a quietly sinister "Jersey Thursday" gives us sly white powder references like "...on a tiny piece of coloured glass, my love was born...and reds, and golds and yellows were the colours of the dawn..." A very Nick Drake vibe oozes out off "Sunny Goodge Street" with its cello and brass and complimentary flute (flute by Harold McNair). "Oh Deed I Do" is a Bert Jansch original exclusive to the album (never appeared on one of his own albums to my knowledge) and it's easy to hear why Donovan loved it – a gorgeous acoustic strum that would make John Renbourn envious. Shawn Phillips provides 12-string guitar on the lovely "Jersey Thursday" and wrote "The Little Tin Soldier" which Pye put on the flipside of "Josie" – his fourth British 45 on Pye 7N 17067 in February 1966.

The 6 Bonus Tracks are clever inclusions that make the purchase so worthwhile for fans. "Turquoise" and "Hey GYP (Dig The Slowness)" are the A&B-sides of his 3rd UK 7" single on Pye Records 7N 15984 released November 1965 - both tracks being non-album at the time of release. It’s arguable that “Turquoise” and its Folk-Funky flipside are equal to and better than some of the album tracks. The other four songs - "Universal Soldier", "Do You Hear Me Now", "Ballad Of A Crystal Man" and "The War Drags On" are again non-album and make up the 4-tracks of the rare UK-only "Universal Soldier EP" on Pye NEP 24219 from September 1965. Hickory Records in the USA released "Universal Soldier" as a 7" single with the Bert Jansch cover "Do You Hear Me Now" on the flipside (Hickory 1338 in September 1965).

So - a good 60ts Folk-Rock album bolstered up with relevant bonuses, liner notes worth reading and quality mastering. After this you will need to buy the "Breezes Of Patchouli..." 3CD set from April 2013 on EMI with stunning Peter Mew Remasters. It offers his studio output between the halcyon period of 1966 to 1969 and much more (see separate review).

For the uninitiated and brave - "Fairytale" is a great way of discovering the wildly underrated Donovan and his great songs - especially those who want to veer away from his better-known hits. Sanctuary also reissued his 1965 debut album "What's Bin Did And What's Bin Hid" with the same packaging, mastering and equally cool added bonus-tracks too.

There's just something wonderful about this album as a stand-alone - and for that matter its straight up and simple predecessor is the same. Highly recommended...the both of them...
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2006
Early Donovan album on which for the large part he sings accompanied only by his own excellent guitar-playing and poignant harmonica.

People often credit Dylan and Joan Baez with writing the best protest songs of the '60s, but there are some excellent examples of Donovan's own contributions here, not least 'Ballad of a Crystal Man'. It's also important to point out that Donovan's singing, songwriting and playing style are very much his own and i've always thought the Dylan comparisons superficial and a bit like saying the Stones sounded just like the Beatles.

There are some wonderful songs here about freedom of spirit, love and the reality of finding love and fighting for it in difficult circumstances.

'I'll try for the sun' is a truly touching song which will stay with you for a long time. 'Circus of sour' is a surreal and amusing detour, and 'Summer day reflection song' is a psychedelic classic. Meanwhile 'Colours' is one of the most uplifting songs of the '60s.
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on 23 August 2012
I've had the vinyl LP since it came out - bought from Smiths if you please (they sold a wider range of music then, although I suppose Donovan was mainstream in the late 60s). I can't say I've played it much since - it's so much of its time (Donovan's use of the term 'negroes' in Ballad of a Crystal Man may sound quaint or even offensive now, but it was the progressive usage at the time, when the word n****rs was still not unknown). Cats and seagulls, those perennial symbols of personal freedom, feature prominently. How soon the cutting edge of rebellious stoned youth turns into ancient history. This is a great evocation of the period to say the least - a nostalgic trip (haha) for those of a certain age but also a technically proficient and accomplished performance by Donovan Leitch, who was much more than just the British Dylan (a marketing niche which the suits in the major record companies were tearing their hair out to fill). And I don't say that just because he slept on my floor once in the early 1960s - many people could make that claim! Accosted in Manchester's Albert Square one fine early - very early - morning by a suspicious plod who was not used to guitar toting hippies and said `'Ello, 'ello, what are you up to my lad?', Donovan gave the classic reply `Digging the dawn, man.' This record is the distilled essence of that attitude. And I defy anybody of a certain age not to join in the harmonies after a few small sherries... Fairytale
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on 24 September 2013
There are some iconic tracks on this album, and I always thought Donovan sang better than Dylan (to whom he was often compared). The Universal Soldier was a great anti-war song for the era and To Try for the Sun seemed a liberated gay confession .. although his strings of women seem to suggest it is not autobiographical and he was no 'fairy'! What a shame that the drugs burnt out his talent ... but this is his best album and seems to reek with 60's authenticity.
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on 18 February 2013
I have Donovan's original Fairytale LP from the '60s and I am so pleased to have found this favourite of mine on CD. Back then Donovan was often compared to Bob Dylan, but for me Donovan's voice is much sweeter and his songs have such poetry. This is one of the few albums I have had where I have liked every track. Sounds as good to me now as it did then.
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This 1965 album, recorded for Pye, was the second of Donovan's career, and the second he released in that year. It finds Donovan in a pensive, reflective mood but edging towards the slightly psychedelic style he would later be noted for. Clearly influenced by Bob Dylan, it contains a share of songs that aim at social commentary in a simple guitar/singer/songwriter folk style, along with a few simple love songs and some rather interesting ballads. The opening track, the delightful `Colours', is one of his best works. A simple, understated love song it has long been a firm favourite of mine. The album then meanders and meditates on the world, sometimes with a sense of naive awe and joy, sometimes with a darkly cynical edge. But always with a great tune and lyric. The original album closed with `The Little Tin Soldier' and `The Ballad of Geraldine', two tales that border on the twee (especially tin soldier), but are sung with such conviction that they really work rather well. It's an excellent album.

The re-issue is excellent. Great remastering, interesting extras (a contemporary EP, with the classic `Universal Soldier') and single) that add to the programme and a great set of liner notes. It's a great place for people to start their classic Donovan collection. 5 stars.
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on 23 March 2013
To compare Donovan to Bob Dylan doesn't do justice to Donovan. His unique style, political message or just simply his voice put him in a class of his own. If you like folk which is tinged with passion then buy Fairytale as your opening to all the other great Donovan songs. Recommended.
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on 2 September 2013
If you already have the excellent 4 Cd set Breezes of Patchouli Oil, then this completes the collection of early Donovan material, including Sunny Goodge Street, Universal Soldier, Little Tin Soldier and Candy Man.
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on 11 October 2015
Best of all albums had it for 50 years
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