* The Donovan Scrapbook - Part I *

last updated: 5th February 1999

compiled and maintained by John McIver
this file is (c) John McIver 1995-2000
please send any corrections/additions to john@sabotage.demon.co.uk

all parts produced with help from:
Rebecca Buck, Ivan Kocmarek, Jeffrey Marshall, Mark Moriarty,
Randy Reeves, Don Stout and Kathleen Waligura



Source: Record Mirror - 13th March 1965, p.5

Donovan--contract & tour

Donovan is to headline his own concert tour and star in a series of Sunday shows at Blackpool. These are the first results of a 25,000 sole agency contract with Aussie Newman.

The one-year agreement was signed this week. There is an option for a further two years.
Donovan's first ever tour begins a four-week run at Newcastle City Hall on September 25. The rest of the cast is not yet set.
The folk singer begins a series of eleven Sunday concerts at Blackpool North Pier on July 4. Though it is not certain, the Pretty Things are hoped to be signed to appear with him.

typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Record Mirror - 27th March 1965, p.7

Donovan -- LP in May and Sullivan Show in US

Donovan is about certain to appear on the "Ed Sullivan show" on American TV in mid-April. A four-day visit for promotional purposes is nearing the end of the negotional stage.

He would be there from about April 16 to coincide with the release of his LP on Hickory.
Donovan's first Pye LP is released on May 7, Titled "Things That's Been Did and Things That's Beed Hid." It contains 14 songs, many of them Donovan compositions.
The words of "Catch The Wind" are on the back cover, along with six of Donovan's original poems.
On April 1, an EP will be issued in France, Germany, and Italy called "This is Donovan."
Elkan Allen is discussing the possibility of Donovan's own 45-minute Rediffusion show. The singer would have guests on the programme which is schedduled for screening within six or eight weeks.
Donovan's forthcoming dates include BBC-1's "Top of the Pops" tonight (Thursday), Rediffusion's "Ready Steady Goes Live" (April 2) and a concert with Memphis Slim and John Hammond at Newcastle City Hall on May 16.
A book of poems written by Donovan is due for publishing in the early summer

typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Record Mirror - 27th March 1965, p.7

Donovan song for Things next disc

The Pretty Things' next single may be a Donovan composition. He is writing material for them at present.

The group's co-manager, Jimmy Duncan, told RM" "He is writing some things for us which we may use on the single or next LP."......

typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Record Mirror - 27th March 1965, p.8-9

"ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF DONOVAN" by Richard Green

Donovan's days never start the same way as other people;s. Something different always happens. Like when he had to come to the Record Mirror offices.

"Sorry I'm late, I had to kick the door of my flat down. I didn't have a key and I couldn't get my gear out." he explained in a matter of fact voice.
He might just as well have been telling us what he had had for breakfast.
Donovan's managers wanted to speak to him, so the singer requisitioned the News Editor's desk and grabbed a handful of phones waiting to see which onw provided a line first. Having managed to get four lines he made his one call.
Beer and things like that play a large part in entertainers' lives and it wasn't long before we dived into the local boozer for a quick one. Well, a quick two.

WHO'S WHO

John L. Watsen was there with the Hummelflugs and it soon got like a show biz Who's Who as Tony Jackson, the hOllies, Andrew Oldham and Nick Neil and the Soul Brothers turned up.
Donovan had to go to Olympia for a radio show, so we piled into a car with the photographer and sped through the West End. I don't know if you've ever tried cramming three people. a guitar and several pieces of photographic equipment iinto a two seater. If you haven't, don't bother.
Bus drivers hooted and office girls waved as they recognized Donovan speeding along. A bunch of yobs took the mickey and a traffic policeman seemed oblivious to the whole thing.

INDIAN FOOD

A quick nosh in an Indian restaurant oppposite Olympia and Donovanhad a chat with Jimmy Young who was to introduce the programme. Tony Knight's Chessmen, the Emeralds, and Dane Hunter were on the show too.
I stood with Donovan's managers in the audience as Jimmy Young did the announcing and were all pretty pleased at the amount of screaming that went on. But Donovan doesn't take all that much notice.
"I never had any burning ambition to be on the show business scene," he told me. "A bloke come up to me at Brighton and said: 'I'm make you into a pop star.'
"I ran away but he found me a few months later and we did some tapes. Then the record came out."
The photopgrapher drove off, so Donovan and I got into a taxi and headed for a studio in Soho. We got there first for some inexplicable reason, so Donovan bought some sunglasses while we waited.

KINKY MAG (sic)

A little darling in a kinky red mac and shiny red hat came along and asked for Donovan's autograph. She turned out to be a fashion model. Then four German birds descended and that turned into a great joking session.
"What's that car over there?" asked Donovan.
"An E-type," I replied.
"How much are they? Nearly 2,000? I'll have two, then," he laughed.
Then it was into the studio for some more photos. That took longer than we hoped but it gave Donovan time to compose a little ditty about the rain and the blues.
Donovan had to go up Charing Cross Road, so we parted company outside our offices. He went off lugging his guitar and case and maybe thinking about the 25,000 contract he'd just signed.
He might not have been joking about the E-types after all.

typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Melody Maker - 3rd April 1965

DONOVAN AT 5; DYLAN AT 13
BOB DYLAN LEAPS TO NO. 13 AS CHART HOTS UP

Donovan at five, Dylan at 13. That was the hit parade score this week as the two new stars from the folk world become the hottest chart movers. Donovan's chart rise with "Catch the Wind" is a leap of ten places, and Bob Dylan, the 24-year-old American, is up 19 places in the Pop 50 with "The Times They Are A-Changing."
The British boy hits out on page three today at critics who accuse him of being on a Dylan kick.
And Donovan has put back an American trip for five days --- until April 21 --- because he is too busy in Britain. His first major concert will be at the British Song Festival, the Dome, Brighton, on May 24.

Concert Sell Out

TV dates for him include Southern's "Day By Day" (today, Thursday), the first "Ready, Steady Goes Live" tomorrow, TWW's "Discs A Gogo" (7) and "Thank Your Lucky Stars."
Dylan jumps from success to success in Britain. His second London concert --- on May 9 --- was a sell-out this week within hours of the Albert Hall box office opening.
He will appear in his own TV spectacular while in Britain. And with his first single in this country riding high, Dylan has another one due out on April 23. It is "Subterranean Homesick Blues" another song he wrote, and currently climbing the US chart. (The single was reviewed on page 12)
While Donovan and Dylan battle it out for the folk-style honours in the chart, there were other records soaring to the top.

report then continues with non Dylan/Donovan news

typed in by Rebecca Buck
found at ftp://ftp.cs.pdx.edu/pub/dylan/notes10.Z



It's been a hard day's riot!

At the height of the awards season – Brats last month, Brits and Grammys just around the corner – we look back at a star-studded NME Pollwinners concert

NME readers – take a bow! You were responsible for choosing the stars for the greatest pop show in the world. By voting for them in the NME popularity poll, you put them on the stage at Wembley's Empire Pool.
  In the audience of 10,000 on Sunday afternoon were teenagers from the world over, and for three-and-a-half hours they were united, enjoying a procession of top talent.
  THE MOODY BLUES bounced onstage in their dark blue suits and pounded a storm out of “Hey Bo Diddley”. Denny Laine broke into “Go Now”, only they didn't. The pianist had not switched on his amp. After the faulty start, their Number One hit brought a rave reaction from the audience at its conclusion.
  HERMAN'S HERMITS led off into a catchy hand clapper, “Wonderful World”. Showing no signs of nerves at all, Herman gave a highly professional performance, and his rendering of “Mrs Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter” proved something new.
  THE ROLLING STONES entered the area to the biggest ovation and Mick Jagger swung into his mean and moody routine with “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love”, which broke into the slower “Pain In My Heart”. Faultless timing and knowing just where to put the emphasis in his phrasing brought hysterical reactions from the fans.
  The faster tempo of “Round And Around” provided Jagger with the opportunity of going into his more violent movements, and he whirled around at one moment like a berserk windmill. The Stones showed how important it is not only to give the audience something to listen to but also to watch, and Mick's facial dramatics during “The Last Time” are an education. They rounded off a wild performance with “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” as an encore, and Bill and Keith joined in the vocals. No one was left in any doubt as to who was the most popular group in this fantastic first-half.
  DONOVAN – this was the act so many fans had been waiting for, if only for its curiosity value. Would Donovan match up to his publicity? The roughly-dressed folk singer answered in a way that should silence his critics forever. He came on stage to a fantastic barrage of screams. First number was his hit, “Catch The Wind”, sung firmly and confidently, and he followed it with a slow wailer, “You're Gonna Need Somebody When I'm Gone”.
  THEM – these quiet Irishmen weren't so quiet after they'd ambled on to the stage! Lead singer Van Morrison led the audience to fever pitch through his cymbal-clashing “Here Comes The Night”, followed immediately by another number that had many of the audience jumping from their seats. The tempo went faster and faster, and at times sounded like some ecstatic pop version of a Cossack dance!
  TOM JONES was a real highlight. He swung and waved his way through three raving numbers. The big sound of trumpets, guitars and sax behind him – provided by The Squires – was just right. Tom opened in punchy style with “Little By Little” and then went into “It's Not Unusual” (screams galore).
  Then a rostrum was rolled forward across the stage. The instruments were set up and on the drum were two words – THE BEATLES!!!!
  Compere Keith Fordyce's announcement was buried in a literal avalanche of applause, screams, thumping and cheering. Especially screams. I felt as if the roof might blow off. In seconds, John, Paul, George and Ringo were on stage, drawing gasps of appreciation from the girl fans at their new stage gear. I think you could best describe the jackets as light tan, Army-style (a bit Russian perhaps?) and the trousers as tight jet black.
  Suddenly, George plucked the first notes of “I Feel Fine” on his guitar – and it was like a signal for a riot! How many of the girls present kept more or less in their seats I still do not know. The girl next to me fell on her knees weeping. After “I Feel Fine”, Paul managed to shout “Hello, how are you?”, into the mike. That was all he could manage above the noise. John stood chewing gum, smiling nonchalantly at his plight!
  The girl next to me threw her hair brush at them as Paul launched into the vocal of “She's A Woman”. I tried to stop her throwing her wire roller-comb, but no use. She flung it at the stage, almost in a delirium, and it just missed George's head. George was in terrific vocal form on this typical “coloured” number. John and Paul joined forces on the vocal for their lilter, “Baby's In Black”. It was great stuff. Then came “Ticket To Ride”, and the screams rose to such a level of fury it was almost impossible to hear anything but the solid beat of Ringo's drums.
  The finale – that long-time Beatles raver, “Long Tall Sally”. It proved an incredible end to a truly incredibly performance, with the group struggling off stage amid a barrage of objects. I'm sure the fans meant well!
  The presentation of Poll awards came at this stage – TONY BENNETT doing the honours – then came a final contribution from THE KINKS, who pounded through “Tired Of Waiting” and “You Really Got Me” in terrific style, a great closing act!
  It was a big, brash, belting show, loaded with names and loaded with talent.
  Truly, the biggest array of pop stars ever assembled on one great day.

Source: New Musical Express - April 1965 and Uncut magazine; Issue 10 - March 1998, p. 18



Source: Record Mirror - 1st May 1965

NO COMPARISON

I'm letting off steam. On leave a few weeks ago, I heard Donovan and his record. He was introduced as "Now we have the man who sounds like Bob Dylan." Not having heard of Dylan, it seemed a bit funny. After hearing his disc, I just had to hear his "sounds like" Dylan. I had to wait a couple of weeks before hearing Dylan. Meanwhile, all the critics heaved their mud at Donovan. When I did hear Dylan, I thought there was as much comparison as between Cilla Black and Mick Jagger. I don't mean length of hair! Now when I see a report on Donovan and Dylan, I feel like ripping it to pieces. I'd just like to say this: "I'm glad that Donovan did not stay in the background, as I think he has the best Bob Dylan voice."

report written by Roger Nuftel, age 18

typed in by Rebecca Buck
found at ftp://ftp.cs.pdx.edu/pub/dylan/notes7.Z



Source: Melody Maker - 5th May 1965

BOB DYLAN and Donovan met this week.

One of the biggest controversies that has ever split the British music scene ended when the British singer --- accused of copying Dylan's every antic --- went to the Savoy Hotel, London, where Dylan is staying during his tour of the country.
'For a joke'
Later, Dylan told the Melody Maker: "He played some songs to me ... I like him.. He's a nice guy."
But thousands of Dylan fans throughout the country are voicing their anger at Donovan at every show the American gives. He mentions Donovan in one of his most important songs, 'Talking World War Three Blues,' and the crowd jeers Donovan's name.
Dylan said backstage: "I didn't mean to put the guy down in my songs. I just did it for a joke, that's all."
Stunt
The Donovan management had refused to allow journalists to be present during the Donovan-Dylan confrontation. "We don't want any stunt on the lines of the disciple meeting the messiah," they said.

typed in by Rebecca Buck
found at ftp://ftp.cs.pdx.edu/pub/dylan/notes7.Z



Source: Record Mirror - 15th May 1965

DONOVAN REVIEWS NEW DYLAN ALBUM!
Record Mirror exclusive by Richard Green

It was all quite simple. We put Bob Dylan's new LP "Bringing It All Back Home" on a record player, sat Donovan down next to it and noted his comments.

Subterranean Homesick Blues

"this is a gas. First time I heard it I like it. Chuck Berry rhythms and Dylan words go well together."

She Belongs To Me

"Yea, it's beautiful. His Buddy Holly influence comes out. Very pretty harmonica on it, it's nice.

Maggie's Farm

"This is the ... (Turns volume up and laughs). It's a good send-up. It's just amusing. You know, all these things he does they're just personal, you can't understand them. It's just to make one person laugh, probably Maggie. Don't like this much." (Takes it off).

Love Minus Zero/No Limit

"He played this one to me without accompaniment, it's good. (Sings along). A lot of people have said it's a big crappy with his accompanists, but they're very sympathetic really."

Outlaw Blues

"He could do something completely new with this. He could be termed a pop form. Can't imagine the groups doing it. But him, yes. His music now doesn't fill up too much of his day. Don't think it ever did, he was writing poetry more than songs. This John Hammond thing is festering in America.

On The Road Again

"Him and his buddies, they're having a good session. It's just a gas for them."

Bob Dylan's 115th Dream

"That's Al Grossman. He keeps plying this in his pad. He hadn't read the words for six weeks. He just put them in front of him and read what he'd written. Apart from that, the group hadn't started with him. (Takes it off)

Mr. Tambourine Man

"This is beautiful, this one. When I first heard this about a year and a half ago, I wrote my "Tangerine Eyes" from it, but I didn't ever record it because I didn't want to steal it. I didn't know what the lyrics were. I've sung it to him, he digs it. (Sings along.) That's the best one on the LP, man, I've not heard the rest of them, but ...

Gates Of Eden

"He's got a place outside New York called Bearsville. The bears come up to his window and he feeds them. He stays there and goes into town once a month and does a concert for ten thousand. That's why he gets bitchy with all these reporters, he doesn't care two figs. There's a cinema in this little town and every time he goes there, it makes the papers. They get all excited. That's good that. That's his classical sort of stuff, where the poetry comes in. It's hard for people to dig it."

It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

"He's written a lot of poem and he's just picked these few to put to song. You've got to be a genius to understand them. To me he's just a guy that writes poems and puts a lot of feeling in them. it's hard for me to say what I think of him. I couldn't write a story of what I think of him for any paper. I like him because he shoots down a lot of people who shoot a load of crap."

It's All Over Now Baby Blue

"Yea! He played this one as well. It's a great one. I dig this one.

On the question of the weirdo sleeve notes, Donovan commented: "There's no reason why you should understand them. He just puts things down that means things to him."

And what of the album in general?

"That a good LP to play in the fallout shelter when the bomb's dropped because they'll all realise what they could have done."

typed in by Rebecca Buck
found at ftp://ftp.cs.pdx.edu/pub/dylan/notes9.Z



Source: Melody Maker - 29th May 1965

DONOVAN AND DYLAN AGAIN

Now that most of the fury surrounding the Bob Dylan-Donovan controversy has fizzled, it is time to take a close look at their comparative musical values.
Both have new albums out --- DYLAN with "Bringing It All Back Home" (CBS) and DONOVAN under the title "What's Bin Did And What's Bin Hid." (Pye)
There are some Dylan observers who insist that Bob's latest collection is an example of how his writing talents are weakening. If this is a valid criticism at all, it must be said that Bob's critics are themselves on weak ground.
All the old sting and realism are there on such important commentaries as "Maggie's Farm," "It's Alright, Ma," Gates of Eden," and "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream." "Mister Tambourine Man" is a pretty song, maybe rather treacly and over-romantic by early Dylan standards, but still possesing his natural charm. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" is potent enough, too. Altogether, it's another stunningly good Dylan album.
Donovan's LP, played at the same session as a Dylan LP, can only emphasise the British singer's allegiance to the Dylan camp of singing. It is an example of his talent, but the important thing about it is Donovan's romantic streak. While Bob's lyrics have the vision and depth, Donovan's have the romance of youth (he is 18, Dylan's 24).
Donovan's performances are vocally sweet; Dylan's are more raw. But the British singer sings attractively, plays neat guitar, and is obviously a potential.
His best efforts are "Catch The Wind" and "Goldwatch Blues."

typed in by Rebecca Buck
found at ftp://ftp.cs.pdx.edu/pub/dylan/notes10.Z



Source: Record Mirror - 29th May 1965

review of the single Colours/To Sing for You (Pye 15866)

This'll be a hit, of course. Lengthy guitar introduction, a flash of harmonica further on, introduction of banjo. Thats the instrumental side. Vocally, Donovan has another charming little song . . . "Yellow is the colour of my true love's hair when we rise, in the morning . . . the time I love best." It really grows on you after a while. A really good and sensitive vocal job. Flip is also commended. A more complex song, hauntingly wistful in parts.

other singles reviewed on the same page are "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" by The Who; The Supremes' "Back in my Arms Again"; and The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man"

typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Rave magazine; Issue #17 - June 1965

In The Shadow of Dylan
by Dawn James

Mention the name Donovan and someone, somewhere will whisper--'Dylan'. For wherever he goes, whatever he sings or writes about, Don is haunted by the name Bob Dylan. People still compare the two; they think Don is just a copy: no one has yet given him the chance to prove himself. Here, RAVE gives him the chance, for here is the truth.

It seems odd that so much wisdom and understanding should come from a boy so young, who wears faded jeans and a cap they say is copied from another. When I went to interview folk singer-poet-pop idol Donovan, I had expected nobody special, but the appearance fools you. The cap and the faded jeans and the sad little voice are just a front covering for a boy who is strangely old. You can't put a date on Donovan. He could have stepped out of the Old Testament, or the ancient Chinese civilisation, or the year two thousand.

He took me into a large studio room in a flat on the ninth floor of a block off Baker Street, London. A guitar lay on the bed, a child's play-pen was propped against a wall. There was a wide view of London across the rooftops and the lights shone out everywhere.
"I live here with my friend Bypsy Dave, and a married couple. That's their baby's playpen. She's eighteen months old. She's great. She went to stay with freinds this week and we missed here terribly."

He ate macaroni from a tin and smoked Gypsy's cigarettes.
"All this aobut me copying Dylan," he said, "it's not true, I am what I am. What do people mean by copy? Is it a detailed copy or just an impression? Dylan and I are both after the public's attention and if we are helping each other, thenfine. There is room for us both."
If you listen carefully to the words of both Donovan's and Dylan's songs, you begin to see the difference betweeen them.
"I don't preach such positive things as Dylan. I look at it like this. There are people in the middle of a circle who are unsure and whose minds are still open. Then there are people around them whose minds are closed. And then there is me and there is Dylan and a few others outside the circle trying to get at those in the centre through those around them. Dylan writes about positive things that shock and are easy to grasp. I write about beauty."
He looked crefully at me to check I understood.
"There is a message in beauty. If the grass is green, the lawn well-mown and the flowers stand proud, it is a beautiful place. But if someone is slaughtered and red blood runs on to the green the garden is no longer beautiful. Where there is beauty there is no corrupting influence. If we keep beauty about ius, we also keep away evil."
Donovan has been caught up in a gust of terrific publicity that has so far mede him, but could also break him.
"I've got to try to get away from this idol bit," he said. "It served me well in finding me an audience to sing to, but now I have to come down to earth and try to keep that audience."
When you get through the jeans and the cap and the folk singer immage that many say are phoney, you find a completely sincere boy, who is well aware of what is happening to him, and is only interested in getting over his message.

"I've got to lose the idol bit," he repeated, "because I'm one of the people, not someone above them. I think every man is a God in himself but he shouldn't be one to anyone else. I think God is within man, and if man could perfect himself he would become God."
"I'm working hard on myself to rid myself of bad."
"What is bad?"
"So many things." He thought for a moment. "Conceit is very bad. Regard for oneself other than for oneself in relation to others, is bad. I have regard for what I am trying to give people because I think it will help. But I have no regard for the glory in being famous.
"I am trying to handle myself so that I am not hurt by people, or upset or angered. Feelings of that sort are a form of self-adoration. It doesn't hurt me now when I am called a fake and a copy. I feel only pity for those who are shallow enough to call me these things because they cannot see me properly."
It seems to me that Donovan's problem is that, as an entertainer, he has been discovered a year too early. Most folk singers are influenced by those who have gone before, and if he sounds like anybody else it is because he hasn't had time for his own style to develop.

"The people I worry about most are those whose mids are made up. Those who say, 'Donovan is a layabout. He must be a layabout because he should be doing an apprenticeship or taking exams. He must also be a layabout because he wears jeans and plays a guitar. He is a copy of Dylan because they both wear a cap'." Donovan shook his head sadly. "Because two men who pass in the street both wear tweed coats and bowler hats, are they the same?"
The room we sat in had such a beautiful view of London that Donovan turned out the light and opened the window.
"I play a game with myself," he said. "I look at the people in the street or on a bus and guess where they live, what they went without to buy the clothes they wear, who loves them, who would care if they died."
"Do you ever look at all those lights in all those windows and realise that people are dying and loving and just existing there?" I asked.
He nodded. "And I realise they need help for every time they shout or quarrel or cry. The could have learned better."

He got up, turned on the light again and picked up a painting he had done. It looked like the work of a child and I said so.
"It's good to paint like a child. If we could go on thinking like children we'd be fine, because they're so fair and clear-headed."
I asked him what he will do with all the money he is earning.
"Maybe give it away," he said. Then, "Possibly I'll buy a house first, so I always will have somewhere to go. Otherwise, I have little use for money. I don't need to go to places money can take me to. I don't need to buy things it can buy. I've everything I need without it."
I asked him what he has.
"True friends, my guitar, my health and my brain. And eyes that seek for the truth and find it."
Maybe he does look a little like Dylan. Maybe he does still walk in his shadow. But one day, perhaps if people listen hard enough and look closely with eyes that see, the echo of Dylan will be gone for ever and the only shadow that is cast will be of -- Donovan.

the article also contains three short poems by Donovan ...

a poem with no name

red
bled the sea
with sunset
orange
slid out
on its pastel skin
blue
through the eye
was cool
cloud
hustled
bult up huge
a twist of tangerine harlequin
zapped across the night

by donovan


a terracotta love poem

velvet killed
its colour blue
for reds an browns
upon your
beautiful arms
an i can see you
shimmerin
like a precious stone
playin in the lights
of your eyes
i can soak my mouth
upon the ends of the
towrin cage of your hair

by donovan

two poems

sea mind
is
a wind tossed
balloon
as spring sun
quickens on
the grass blades
by the sand bank

white snowshoe
hares
dab the blue snow
softly
in the pines
toward some
great thinkin'

by donovan

note: this is the feature story in the magazine and Donovan is on the cover. Some trivia: Dawn James is the sister of the singer, Twinkle!

typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Record Mirror; No. 223 - 19th June 1965, front cover

POETRY FROM DONOVAN

`I'm working on a book of poetry' says Donovan

THERE was stillness in the audience. That is Donovan's way of describing the first of his long series of Sunday concerts.
  “It was the first quiet pop concert”, he added, obviously neglecting several recent badly-attended package shows.
  And those concerts are about the only chance Donovan's fans are going to have of watching him perform for a little while. He's too busy writing.
  “I wrote `Colours' on the spot in the recording studio,” he revealed. “I went along with several things, but just wrote that when I got there.”
  Now he's staying at the home of one of his managers, Geoff Stephens. That's down near Southend, far from the rush and tear of Donovan's former Earls Court abode.
  “We could be earning a lot of money by putting him out all the time, but we decided at the beginning that we wanted him to be a writer as well as a singer,” explained another manager, Pete Eden.
  I had contacted Donovan in the canteen of a BBC studio in darkest Maida Vale after several attempts by commissionaires to locate “Mr. Donovan and his group” in other parts of the building.
  We walked to one studio through a maze of basement passages with huge pipes everywhere.
  “It's the BBC fallout shelter,” cracked the folk poet who didn't even smile at his own joke.
  Donovan is working on a book of poetry which he hopes to have published ere long.
  It will cover many fields and is almost bound, I presume, to offend many “purists”.
  A man hidden in a booth called for silence from everybody. Unquestionably, we obeyed. But Donovan walked over to a chair and picked up his guitar.
  He began to play so softly that hidden SPECTRE microphones would have had difficulty picking up the sound. Even the man in the booth didn't hear.
  The denims were missing. In their place, a yellow shirt, sweater and slacks. Donovan sent someone out to buy more polo-necked sweaters.
  How is Donovan finding fame? I enquired.
  “You know,” he replied. Then a few moments gazing at the floor and thinking. “Sometimes I like it, sometimes I hate it,”
  Then it was Donovan's turn to do some recording. He sat near the booth, played his guitar and sang quietly. The technician asked how hard Donovan was trying with his voice.
  “I'm not trying, I didn't think you wanted me to yet. Sorry. I will if you want,” replied the singer, showing the kind of consideration lacking in many pop people.

the caption on the picture says: DONOVAN—Currently high in the charts with `Colours,' his new album has just been released in the States under the new title `Catch The Wind.'

originally typed in by Ivan Kocmarek



Source: Disc Weekly - 14th August 1965, p.11

Penny PICKS YOUR POPS

Donovan's new one is beautiful!

UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (Pye):—
  This is a very beautiful EP which is being promoted as a single.
  For the first time I really like Donovan. I like the change in voice, I like the way he's suddenly discovered that he can sing without resorting to Dylan phrasing. I particularly like this switch to Pete Seeger guitar work. Lovely.
  Of the two sides, the A side, and presumably the one that will receive the plugs, is far and away the best.
  Buffy St. Marie's “Universal Soldier”—already a classic folk song—is the first track, and is followed by the loveliest song on the record, Donovan's own “The Ballad Of A Crystal Man.”
  The chorus on this and Donovan's voice are perfect. Would have made a super single.
  The other two tracks are both anti-war songs. They are “Do You Hear Me Now” and “The War Drags On.”
  Well worth anybody's money.
OUT TOMORROW.



Source: Hit Parader - March 1967, p.18/19
(This article originally appeared in Crawdaddy)

The HIP INNOCENCE of SUNSHINE SUPERMAN

by Paul Williams

  Mild-mannered singer-songwriter Donovan Leitch (better known to the world as Sunshine Superman!) has done a very nice thing for modern day pop music: he has injected into it a sense of wonder. He looks at the world with a sort of hip innocence, paints his pictures with a dab of irony and a dash of awe, and somehow never neglects the delicate in the decadence around him. He wanders into the past on occasion, but somehow that only serves to reinforce the fact that this is perhaps the most 1966 LP I've ever heard. It has the taste of now.
  The album is the first for Donovan in more than a year, and although his style may seem to have changed drastically, it would be more simple and accurate to say that it has improved. If you listen carefully to “Fairytale” (Hickory 1965) after familiarizing yourself with “Sunshine Superman”, you will find that much of the earlier album could have been included in the later without seeming too out of place. “Sunny Goodge Street” and “Summer Day Reflection Song” are musically mature both as compositions and in performance; Donovan employs careful arrangements, imaginative phrasing, and -- folkies take note -- musical accompaniment beyond simple guitar strumming in both of these 1965 recordings. Some of Donovan's songs are most effective with simple guitar strumming, of course; but even when it was hip to be a purist Donovan sensed that it was better to be a maker of music.
  So we come inevitably to the fact that this album employs musicians and accompaniments galore; but what may be overlooked as one remarks upon the star, the overdubbing, and the electricity, is the fact that this album has a producer, an excellent one. Mickey Most has succeeded in making it possible for us to hear Donovan's songs much as Don must hear them in his head; clearly there is a rapport between singer, producer, and accompanists that transcends mere good fortune. Most -- or someone; perhaps, as occasionally happens, the performer is largely his own producer -- has translated concept into actuality with remarkable grace. And surely a touch of magic enters in -- on “Sunshine Superman” one voice starts to sing “forever to be mine” while the lead sings on “you're going to be mine,” and the effect, intended or not, is wonderful.
  For those who like to categorize, the songs on this album fall into approximately ten groups, each as independent and as unexpected as the performer himself. Donovan reaches out in all directions to give us, his listeners, a sense of what things feel like. In the title song he is charm itself, self-confident youth in the morning sunshine, radiating with the feeling that “nothing can stop me.” “You're gonna be mine and I know it,” he smiles; and if you're ever known springtime you can't fail to understand. It's a teenage song, with a rock and lilt and plenty of identifying -- but it isn't a sop to the masses, it isn't why-must-I-be-a-teenager-in-love; it's a slice of reality for the real people who dare to be youthful too. Go ahead, roll down the window, rest your elbow in the breeze, turn up the volume a little and sing along with those marvelous verses and their broken rhythm; tap your foot and just appreciate the way all that musical chaos in the accompaniment blends perfectly into a goodtime music that is not in the least Beatles or Lovin' Spoonful or Dylan or anything else that ever was but just pure underivative Donovan, underivative because he's absorbed what needed absorbing and now his music just comes from everywhere, sunshine, moonlight, even - and what could be more 1960's ethnic? -- transistor radios. Enjoy.
  Following the easy, insistent beat of “Sunshine Superman” Donovan effortlessly shifts his gears to the rhythmless violins and harpichord of “Legend of a Girl-Child Linda”. The early morning time of joy fades into the timelessness of a dream-place, and the transition is perfect. Perhaps it's simply the sound of that same gentle voice that assures us that we haven't been deserted -- our guide is simply showing us a different picture within the same gallery. “Legend of a Girl-Child Linda” is a pleasant walk through the carefully-carved features of a somewhere else, a children's kingdom, a world with the utterly acceptable reality of an identifiable dream. It is not Central Park South -- but the story could be told there, to city children gathered in a very now place, heads filled with ideas of elsewhere as quiet and delicately ornamented with whatever can be imagined of nature. Donovan is here the story-teller; not the child anymore, nor yet the good old Uncle Don talking to the kiddies. Rather, his context is one of mature, but child-like, wonder. He is the magician; he knows his tales and shows are but 1/5 his own -- the other 4/5 provided by the listener, the eager child, watching the storyteller's hands, seeing the world that he unfolds, but seeing it through his own particular eyes. And we who aren't quite children, we too take part, weaving things our own way with our own visions in mind; and we are captured. On the last verse the singer's voice becomes somehow more stark, and we hear each word: “My sword it lies broken and cast in a lake....In the dream I was told that my princess would wake.” And suddenly it's not a children's tale at all, expect as we are children; it's a song for us, a song of loss and hope, innocence vanished -- “cast in a lake” -- a feeling of gone forever.... “In the dream I was told that....” and suddenly like cold water we are out of it and seeing it as a dream, and yet sensing how real it was; the princess is remembered as we wake as someone real and loving, and the sense of awakeness and now is less real by far than she was. As Donovan mentions later on (“The Trip”), the world is often quite detached from us; the near-reality of dreams is much more vivid. But there's more here than just loss of dreams: the dream, in the end, is but a model for a possible reality --“...I was told that my princess would wake.” One need not analyse all this to feel it, of course; the mark of the artist is that he transmits ideas and feelings directly -- neither he nor you need know how or what is transmitted. As long as you don't resist the magician, the spell is cast and Donovan's artistry and relevance come through. As always, enlightenment and entertainment -- when both are good -- come both in the same package.
  “Three Kingfishers” paints its picture all in sound. The tabla -- Indian drums -- are properly employed; the song does not seem experimental or “east vs. west”ish at all. Donovan is clearly into all these sounds -- they are his, the feelings he has, with his vocal style the common denominator, the needle with which he weaves. And the listener is woven in; as the music continues you become fully a part of it. `Look at the tiny oceans in my hand.” You listen, and you see them. It is good that these songs work into each other so well....it would be cruel if the cord that is formed were ripped out after each time. But no, it is all one cord, and even after listening to the album you are tied. It stays with you -- once invited in to view the palace you are never thrown out the back door. You live within it, and in the world too. In this way, the album is more real than “Revolver”, a more frankly experimental LP, a hat shop, try this on for size, and this, and when you've tried on all the hats you leave. “Sunshine Superman” is an experience that continues to affect you; “Revolver” is more a one-night stand.

  “The Ferris Wheel” -- a love song. The amusement park at night; everything is a part of everything and everything is you; I wish you could enjoy it all as as I enjoy it all and you. A feeling of one-ness. God is love; pantheism. And “Bert's Blues” has such fantastic changes of tempo! Donovan is thinking jazz and singing rock and roll; the cut is the single most unusual musical accomplishment on the album. Yet it's so easy to accept as perfectly natural and expected; it fits. As a halfway point on the LP it is a wonderful sort of summary and retrospection -- and so simple. “I've been looking for a good gal....” “I've been picking up sunshine, drinking down the rain.” It is “Sunshine Superman” again, but not quite as exuberant; pausing a moment in the shade, he would still say “....you're going to be mine,” but he is uncomfortably aware that it hasn't happened yet. He's still waiting. It's a beautiful companion piece to “Sunshine Superman”...and to the dream of the princess, and the amusement park vision, and all. Really, the whole LP is one song.
  Turn the record over. “Season of the Witch” is the most powerful single track on the LP. It's really impossible to listen to it without wanting to turn up the volume. The production is excellent, with that great bass line out front, and organ and lead building to a frenzy that makes you almost suspect Donovan's being backed by the Young Rascals (incidentally, it is criminal that nowhere on this LP are the sidemen identified). You can feel the song all through you, and it's all too clear that this is the season of the witch: you can see Donovan walking down the street with people staring at his hair, people frightened of “beatniks” and uptight about anything different, rabbits running in the ditch, scared and irrational and ready for Salem all over again. And as always Donovan sings no protest and no hate but rather: “sure is strange to see....” Judgements are avoided. “The Trip”, too, is non-committal; it's an innocent, honest swirl of visions with heavy irony and mostly just “What goes on? I really want to know.” It's a great rolling song, not really about drugs so much as about, well, alienation. Detachment, like. What goes on? And “Guenevere.” Donovan says, “all of a sudden I was there, 400 a.d., hiding like a child watching....” and I can't really add to that. The song is like walking through very deep snow, which may not seem good but is. “Fat Angel” is an unbelievably funny song about a pusher. Again, Donovan has made his point perfectly. He seems to aim almost blindly, such is his ease -- but he never misses. He is a true marksman.
  Finally, there is “Celeste”. The strings are too loud and “big” for my taste. It's really the only case of poor judgement on the LP - it makes the whole thing come on too strong. But it is definitely the right song, if the wrong performance, to finish the LP -- again, introspection, this time “dawn crept in unseen, to find me still awake” (the first words of the LP are, of course, “Sunshine came softly through my window today”...). “Would anybody like to try the changes I'm going through?” and “A hidden lie would fortify something that don't exist.” So in the end, it is left unsaid; no answer, no “meanings” or “messages,” no deception -- and no fortification. We hate to go it alone. Or almost alone: “a strange young girl” sings her songs for him, as he has for us, and “I would have liked to try the changes that she's going through”....and we're back to “I've been looking for a good gal” and “It'll take time, I know it, but in a while, you're gonna be mine and I know it....”

submitted by Randy Reeves


||| This page was brought to you by John McIver |||

Last updated: 19th November 1996