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A superb re-issue of Donovan's final '60s album
on 1 December 2015
'Barabajagal' is a Donovan Leitch album which often divides the critics and fans alike, but I have always had a real soft spot it. This was the Scottish poet's final studio record of the 1960s, which was the man's most commercially successful decade as a recording artist, and initially, was only released in America, where it peaked in their charts at a respectable no. 23, but never in Britain, due to a running contractual dispute.
The most famous song on this Mickie Most produced album has got to be the title track, which is a relatively heavy rocker, with it's backing provided by The Jeff Beck Group, and this was to become Donovan's last top 40 hit single in any country. Other gems include the upbeat rocker 'Superlungs (My Supergirl)', which was originally recorded during the 'Sunshine Superman' sessions but neglected, with it's fabulous psychedelic effect, the gentle, laid-back 'Where Is She', the pure joy which is the sing-along track 'Happiness Runs', the sheer brilliance of the song writing of the atmospheric anti-war tune 'To Susan on the West Coast Waiting', and 'Atlantis', which had Paul McCartney on backing vocals, and is a folky song so good that it's even mentioned on the front cover. The others aren't quite as noteworthy, but I do enjoy the very silly but charming 'I Love My Shirt', which was aimed at children, and really is lovely in it's innocence.
Whilst not as strong as Donovan's previous offerings, there are plenty of little treats to taste on 'Barabajagal'. If I was to rate this album based on it's original listing, I would still have given it a five star review. However, this excellent 2005 re-issue from EMI, to celebrate the man's 40th anniversary, like all of the others, is a ten star release, with a booklet featuring detailed liner notes, rare pictures an memorabilia, but best of all - the generous inclusion of 13 previously unreleased bonus tracks which were hidden away for far too long. Some of these rarities are better than the album's final cuts which I haven't mentioned, namely the soothing 'The Swan (Lord of the Reedy River)', and two demos, the beautiful 'Marjorie (Margarine)', and 'Palais Girl', which, with the remaining 10, double the length of the record. Each track is digitally remastered, and they all sound superb.
This was Donovan's final LP of his best decade, and one which doesn't deserve to remain so largely unheard.