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Cosmic Wheels

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Album Review

Cosmic Wheels was Donovan's first album in three years to be aimed at mainstream listeners (as opposed to the audience of children and parents for HMS Donovan). For most onlookers, the passage of time meant that this record should have differed considerably from its predecessor, but no one could have expected what was on Cosmic Wheels, at least on side one — a suppression of all of the flowing lyricism that had been a hallmark of Donovan's previous work. In its place were awkward self-consciously heavy prog rock/hard rock stylings juxtaposed with sound effects, and all woven together in a loud and mostly tuneless and unmemorable first side. Starting with the title track, little of the new-style material worked, and the first six numbers here seem like the musical equivalent of a train wreck in slow motion — the presence of such notable names as Suzi Quatro and others in the contingent of participating musicians notwithstanding. But the album ended up rescued, or at least partly salvaged, by the acoustic numbers that comprise most of the second side. Overlooking "The Intergalactic Laxative" (the less said about the better), the final third of this record is where any value that it did have, for old listeners at least, resided — the delightful "Only the Blues" and the ethereal "Appearances," among the most beautiful recordings of his post-'60s career, satisfied longtime fans and could even have earned the artist some new ones, and they keep the record from being a total loss. Fine as they are, they may not be quite worth the effort required to reach them, but their presence comprised the only fully worthwhile moments of what was to be a comeback album — and as they're not likely to ever turn up on any compilations, their presence ensures that completists and fans will always have to ponder whether to bother owning Cosmic Wheels or not, as opposed to ignoring it completely.

Customer Reviews

The Intergalactic Laxative

In the review above, about The Intergalactic Laxative, the writer claims "the less said about (it) the better." I wholeheartedly disagree. One of the wonderful things about music is its ability to transport one to different times, settings, and moods. Who doesn't need to laugh once in awhile? I have been looking to download this song for ages, and am so glad to have found it here! The folksy style and the reverent approach to space flight broken up by consideration of one of the practical oddities necessary to achieve this amazing feat make for delightful observations. To the previous reviewer I say, "Fine, say little about it, but you'll be humming this tune if you have any sense of humor at all!"

Most Pleasantly Surprised

Was most pleasantly surprised to see iTunes finally list this somewhat unusual one from Donovan. I had inquired about this album a couple of years ago. Maybe they do read requests and attempt to oblige their faithful customers? It's a nice thought. However I found their 'Album Review' a bit harsh in it's scope. Anyone buying this album should heed advance warning - This is NOT your typical Donovan album. You'll find nothing mellow yellow here. That, in and of itself, is perhaps one of the reasons I was drawn to it. I have thoroughly enjoyed Donovan's previous musical contributions, but this critter is a horse of a different color. Donovan definitely took a turn in direction and that's why I like it. It shows there's much more than one side to this psychedelic Sunshine Superman of yesteryear. Hail Atlantis and Donovan for Cosmic Wheels. : )

My favorite Donovan album!

Very different from everything else he did from the hard edged sound this album has...Brilliant and fun.


Born: May 10, 1946 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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