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Donovan

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Biography

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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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    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.   There Is a Mountain
  10.   Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)
  11.   Jennifer Juniper
  12.   Lalena
  13.   Universal Soldier
  14.   Colours
  15.   Epistle to Dippy
  16.   The Lullaby of Spring
  17.   Get Thy Bearings
  18.   Superlungs My Supergirl
  19.   Guinevere
  20.   Wear Our Love Like Heaven
  21.   Oh Gosh
  22.   People Used To
  23.   Sunny South Kensington
  24.   The Trip
  25.   Bert's Blues
  26.   The Fat Angel
  27.   To Susan on the West Coast Waiting
  28.   Mad John's Escape
  29.   Teas
  30.   Josie
  31.   Goldwatch Blues
  32.   Summer Day Reflection Song
  33.   To Try for the Sun
  34.   Belated Forgiveness Plea
  35.   Jersey Thursday
  36.   Keep on Truckin'
  37.   Clara Clairvoyant
  38.   There Was a Time
  39.   Colors
  40.   The Pee Song
  41.   Epistle to Derroll
  42.   Voyage Into the Golden Screen
  43.   Little Boy in Corduroy
  44.   Every Man Has His Chain
  45.   Two Lovers
  46.   Remember the Alamo
  47.   Working on the Railroad
  48.   Sunshine Superwoman
  49.   Living for the Love Light
  50.   Stealin'
  51.   House of Jansch
  52.   The Magpie
  53.   The Enchanted Gypsy
  54.   Song of the Naturalist's Wife
  55.   Under the Greenwood Tree
  56.   Sun
  57.   Skip-a-Long Sam
  58.   Riki Tiki Tavi
  59.   I Love My Shirt
  60.   Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)
  61.   The War Drags On
  62.   Oh Deed I Do
  63.   Sunny Goodge Street
  64.   Ramblin' Boy
  65.   Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)
  66.   Cosmic Wheels
  67.   Preachin' Love
  68.   The Tinker and the Crab
  69.   The Quest
  70.   The Land of Doesn't Have to Be
  71.   Ballad of Geraldine
  72.   Starfish-On-the-Toast
  73.   To Sing for You
  74.   Isle of Islay
  75.   Museum
  76.   Tangerine Puppet
  77.   Poor Cow
  78.   Codine
  79.   Sand and Foam
  80.   Dark-Eyed Blue Jean Angel
  81.   Ventura
  82.   Bang
  83.   Yo !
  84.   Krosscut
  85.   Eastwest
  86.   Future Feelings
  87.   MML
  88.   Wonder Why
  89.   Half This Close
  90.   Lovely Princess
  91.   I Don't Know
  92.   Make Your Mind Up
  93.   Tinker Tune
  94.   A Working Man
  95.   The Traveling People
  96.   Moon in Capricorn
  97.   Do Not Go Gentle
  98.   Lover-O-Lover
  99.   Lord of the Universe