Thursday, December 14, 2017

Donovan's Greatest Hits

Greatest Hits albums live in a kind of AM pergatory; they don't fit the rubric in that the record company, and not the artist, handles the compilation. If there were an exception, it would be Donovan's Greatest Hits released in 1969. Donovan's albums, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, were a mish-mosh of contractual obligations that created a rift in each album's release. The 10-track American issue of Sunshine Superman, released in 1966, is the original; the hybrid UK version, was released a year later in a 12-track edit replacing three songs ("Fat Angel," "The Trip" and "Ferris Wheel") with five songs that would appear on the American release of Mellow Yellow

Donovan's Greatest Hits negates the issues, but is more so an LP that thoroughly captured the spirit of the psychedelic 60s, in STEREO. There is no rock here; despite guitar work from Jimmy Page and drums from John Bonham, Donovan is trippy 3am stuff, the quiet side, pastoral and folky, and every song takes one there, to that place on the album covers, that lavender castle in the clouds. Again, due to contractual restrictions, "Catch the Wind" was rerecorded by Donovan in 1968, as was "Colours," with new and lavish production by Mickie Most. In addition, "Sunshine Superman" is the longer, original version not included on either of the Sunshine Superman issues. Donovan's Greatest Hits is more than a compilation album; it's Donovan as 60s troubadour, ethereal, cheerful, catchy. 

A recent AM post glorified the bubblegummy coma of psychedelic pop with songs like "The Rain, the Park and Other Things." No doubt these songs are great fun and truly represent the Flower Power 60s, but if there was an artist who summed it all up, it was Donovan. Donovan's Greatest Hits oozes black lights and beads, flowers and fringe. It's interesting though, that one of the LP's highlights is the not-so-trippy "Catch the Wind," Donovan's impressive attempt at a starry-eyed Dylan. It is a glimpse into hippie true love.

In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty
I want to be in the warm hold of your loving mind
To feel you all around me
And to take your hand along the sand
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
When sundown pales the sky
I want to hide a while behind your smile
And everywhere I'd look your eyes I'd find
For me to love you now
Would be the sweetest thing, it's what'd make me sing
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
When rain has hung the leaves with tears
I want you near to kill my fears
To help me to leave all my blues behind
For standing in your heart
Is where I want to be and long to be
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind