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Donovan

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Upon his emergence during the mid-'60s, Donovan was anointed "Britain's answer to Bob Dylan," a facile but largely unfounded comparison which compromised the Scottish folk-pop troubadour's own unique vision. Where the thrust of Dylan's music remains its bleak introspection and bitter realism, Donovan fully embraced the wide-eyed optimism of the flower power movement, his ethereal, ornate songs radiating a mystical beauty and childlike wonder; for better or worse, his recordings remain quintessential artifacts of the psychedelic era, capturing the peace and love idealism of their time to perfection. Donovan Leitch was born May 10, 1946 in Glasgow and raised outside of London; at 18 he recorded his first demo, and in 1965 was tapped as a regular on the television pop showcase Ready, Steady, Go! He soon issued his debut single "Catch the Wind," earning the first round of Dylan comparisons with his ramshackle folk sound and ragamuffin look; the single nevertheless reached the U.K. Top Five, with a subsequent meeting between the two singer/songwriters captured in the classic D.A. Pennebaker documentary Don't Look Back. Donovan's follow-up single, "Colours," was also a hit, and after making his American debut at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, he issued Fairytale, his second and last LP for the Hickory label. Signing with Epic in 1966, he released his breakthrough album, Sunshine Superman, which in its exotic arrangements and pointedly psychedelic lyrical outlook heralded a major shift from his previous work; the title track topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, with the enigmatic "Mellow Yellow" reaching the number two spot a few months later. Donovan remained a chart fixture throughout 1967, generating a series of hits including "Epistle to Dippy," "There Is a Mountain," and "Wear Your Love Like Heaven"; that year he traveled to India alongside the Beatles to study with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a journey which inspired him to renounce drug use and encourage his listeners to turn to meditation. The ambitious double album A Gift from a Flower to a Garden followed, and in 1968 Donovan resurfaced with The Hurdy Gurdy Man, scoring a Top Five smash with the hallucinatory title cut; the record also yielded the hit "Jennifer Juniper." Barabajagal from 1969 generated Donovan's final Top 40 hit, "Atlantis"; for the title track, he collaborated with the Jeff Beck Group, with whom he also worked on 1970s Open Road. He then retreated to Ireland, emerging from a period of seclusion by starring in and scoring the 1972 film The Pied Piper; a pair of new LPs, Cosmic Wheels and Essence to Essence, appeared the following year to disappointing reviews and little commercial interest. Following 1974's 7-Tease, he spent the next years living quietly in California's Joshua Tree desert, mounting only a small club tour to promote 1976's Slow Down; a self-titled LP appeared a year later, and in the wake of 1983's Jerry Wexler-produced Lady of the Stars, he essentially retired from writing and recording altogether. The Donovan revival began in earnest in 1991 when Happy Mondays titled a song in his honor for their groundbreaking Pills 'n' Thrills & Bellyaches; he later toured with the group as well. Five years later, Donovan released his comeback LP, Sutras, helmed by producer du jour Rick Rubin. (The album had the misfortune to be released after Rubin's landmark Johnny Cash record, American Recordings and was virtually ignored or misunderstood by critics.) Donovan toured briefly to support Sutras and then went missing once again, playing out only sporadically. In 2004, however, he reappeared with the intimate and stylish Beat Cafe, a collection of nearly all-original songs produced by keyboardist John Chelew. Donovan also enlisted bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Jim Keltner to round out his quartet. The album featured a pair of covers, a spoken word rendition of poet Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle," and a startling rendition of the traditional tune "The Cuckoo." ~ Jason Ankeny
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Albums by
Donovan

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    12 songs

    On Air

    Sunshine Superman (Live)

    10 songs

    On Air

    One Hit Wonders

    11 songs

    On Air

    This Is Donovan

    12 songs

    On Air

    The Best of Donovan

    26 songs

    On Air

    The Essential Donovan

    18 songs

    On Air

    Donovan: Essentials

    10 songs

    On Air

    Well Done Don - [The Dave Cash Collection]

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Sun Shines On Donovan - [The Dave Cash Collection]

    10 songs

    On Air

    10 Tops: Donovan

    11 songs

    On Air

    Chord

    12 songs

    On Air

    In Concert At The Anaheim Convention Center, CA - November 17, 1967

    12 songs

    On Air

    Beat Cafe

    18 songs

    On Air

    Fairytale [Castle 2002]

    12 songs

    On Air

    Open Road

    10 songs

    On Air

    Mellow Yellow

    14 songs

    On Air

    Sutras

    10 songs

    On Air

    Sunshine Superman [US]

    10 songs

    On Air

    Barabajagal

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Hurdy Gurdy Man

    11 songs

    On Air

    Lady of the Stars

    22 songs

    On Air

    A Gift from a Flower to a Garden

    12 songs

    On Air

    Sunshine Superman [UK]

    6 songs

    On Air

    Golden Country: Best Of Donovan

    5 songs

    On Air

    JerkinHouse #1 - EP

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Top Songs by
Donovan

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Sunshine Superman
  3.   Mellow Yellow
  4.   Hurdy Gurdy Man
  5.   Season of the Witch
  6.   Wear Your Love Like Heaven
  7.   Catch the Wind
  8.   Atlantis
  9.   Jennifer Juniper
  10.   There Is a Mountain
  11.   Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)
  12.   Lalena
  13.   Universal Soldier
  14.   Colours
  15.   Epistle to Dippy
  16.   Superlungs My Supergirl
  17.   The Lullaby of Spring
  18.   Get Thy Bearings
  19.   Wear Our Love Like Heaven
  20.   The Trip
  21.   To Susan on the West Coast Waiting
  22.   The Fat Angel
  23.   Guinevere
  24.   People Used To
  25.   Oh Gosh
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Donovan

    On Air

    Folk

    On Air

    Bob Dylan: DNA

    On Air

    '60s Rock

    On Air

    Classic Singer Songwriters

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    The Black Keys: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Classic Rock Deep Dive