Donovan was always for me the "Ambassador of Flower Power" from across the pond. While growing up in San Francisco during the 60's there was an insullar bubble around SF and the musicians it fostered. Everyone in California was becoming tuned in to West Coast Psychedelica, California had the SF scene and Los Angeles.
No internet then. There were a handful of ways we were exposed to "outside" music. Word of moulth; vinyl bins; thy ears; and radio, AM and FM.
Donovan penetrated that insular SF bubble through the radio. His AM hits were everywhere, as well as featured FM bits. In a cool way Donovan pays homage to Jefferson Airplane in 1966's FAT ANGEL (frm Sunshine Superman lp) before the Airplane really took off (there was a kinship of sorts). Through osmosis like this (other bands' covers of 'Season of the Witch') Donovan became a crucial step in defining the genre of 'psychedelic folk', and agruably cleared the way for more eccentric and eclectic UK bands' like 'The Incredible String Band' and 'Tyrannosaurus Rex'.
This box set here does an excellent job of presenting Donovan's music through his glory years of 66-69. It's houses 6 releases on 4 cds in a 4cd Jewel case. Each cd is arranged thus:
CD#1 contains SUNSHINE SUPERMAN (1966) and MELLOW YELLOW (1967), 30 tracks, running back to back for a total time of 78+ min. All of cd#1 is in mono.
CD#2 contains HURDY GURDY MAN (1968) and BARABAJAGAL (1969), 38 tracks, running back to back for a total time of 77+min. All but 1 track is in stereo.
CD#3 contains A GIFT FROM A FLOWER TO A GARDEN (1968), 22 tracks, double lp with WEAR YOUR LOVE LIKE HEAVEN flowing into FOR LITTLE ONES. All in stereo with a total time of 62min.
CD#4 contains assorted tracks related to the previous albums (see amaz. track listing above).
Tracks 1-5 are Sunshine Superman related
Tracks 6-11 are Mellow Yellow related
Tracks 12-16 are Hurdy Gurdy Man related
Tracks 17-23 are Barabajagal related
I really like the fact that the "extras" are on the fourth disc and do not interfere with the flow of the official releases.
The booklet is a fine 24 page compendium of bio, track analysis, pix, historica et al. The print is small, the text expansive and up-to-date as to this specific release.
Keep in mind that the box set is packaged in a 4-cd Jewel case. There are no individual album sleeves, no clamshell box or slipcase. Even the 4-cd jewel case has its moments though: the inner jewel box has clear cd mounts allowing for the compiliers to design it with colorful artwork. This is no 'Original Album Series' pass-off either. It is a selected collection of Donovan's output (during the 2nd half of the 60's) an era immersed in an unprecedented "consciousness expanding" social experiment.
The overall effect of this presentation here is a well concieved, respectful and enlightening view of a wonderful musician whoose "vibe" meshed perfectly with the era...and in his own unique way helped to define it.
Get this along withSummer Day Reflection Songs
and you'll have all the PYE recordings which preceed the years covered here. Don't hesitate to venture further into some other great psychedelic folk which I believe Donovan spearheaded includingOriginal Album Series
and The Definitive Tyrannosaurus Rex
. What a time it was!!!