Sunday, May 20, 2007

Donovan "Greatest Hits" & "Hurdy Gurdy Man"

As a general rule of thumb, I try to stay away from greatest hits collections as an introduction to a band or musician. Donovan's "Greatest Hits" really cemented that opinion for me.

Although these are all great songs (except the treacherous "Mellow Yellow,") this album barely scratches the surface of what Donovan was capable of. These are just his pop songs. Regardless, this is still a record worth having, with new versions of two songs (one of which is the phenomenal reworking of "Catch the Wind,") a few non-LP singles, and an extended version of "Sunshine Superman." But as I said, not an accurate view of Donovan in his prime.

Donovan's "Hurdy Gurdy Man" record, however, is exactly that. This record covers so much ground through it's 13 tracks, but never to areas out-of-bounds for Donovan. From hit singles like the title track to droney, eastern influenced songs like "Peregrine" and "Tangier," back to acoustic folk reminiscent of very early Donovan on "The Entertaining of a Shy Girl" and "The Sun is a Very Magic Fellow," everything comes across as perfectly natural for Donovan and still manages to form a surprisingly cohesive album. "Get Thy Bearings" is a heavily jazz influenced track, also note-worthy as one of the very few songs ever recorded featuring a saxophone that doesn't make me obscenely angry. "Hi it's Been a Long Time" and "Teas" are two stand-out tracks, not just for this album, but his entire career (which died the second him and Mickie Most split.)

And let's talk about Mickie Most for a second. His production for this record is absolutely flawless. Mickie was known for producing hit singles, and it's apparent throughout the whole record. Every songs is crisp and clean without ever skimping on the reverb or delay, and the choices for session musicians were always on-point.

So there you have it. If you don't own copies of these two records (records. not CD's,) it's past due time to pick them up. You could most likely find Donovan's "Greatest Hits" in any used record store, but it might be worth-while to hold off for a copy of "Hurdy Gurdy Man."

--Billy McDungeon


Anonymous said...

HGM is worth buying for the title song alone.

RyGar said...

I 100% back you on your comment about saxophones being horribly, horribly irritating. I can think of so many songs that could have been fantastic, if it weren't for some hepcat-wanna-be, ass, skronking away on his sax.

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