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Sunshine Superman

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Album Review

Paced by the title track, one of Donovan's best singles, 1966's Sunshine Superman heralded the coming psychedelic age with a new world/old world bent: several ambitious psychedelic productions and a raft of wistful folk songs. Producer Mickie Most fashioned a new sound for the Scottish folksinger, a sparse, swinging, bass-heavy style perfectly complementing Donovan's enigmatic lyrics and delightfully skewed, beatnik delivery. The two side-openers, "Sunshine Superman" and "Season of the Witch," are easily the highlights of the album; the first is the quintessential bright summer sing-along, the second a chugging eve-of-destruction tale. The rest of Sunshine Superman is filled with lengthy, abstract, repetitive folk jams, perfect for lazy summer afternoons, but more problematic when close attention is paid. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and a chamber quartet, the second track, "Legend of a Girl Child Linda," plods on for nearly seven minutes, Donovan's hippie-dippie delivery rendering "lace" into "layyyzzz." After that notable low point, he performs much better, tingling a few spines with his enunciation on the ancient-sounding folksongs "Guinevere," "Three King Fishers," and "Ferris Wheel." Elsewhere, he salutes the Jefferson Airplane on "The Fat Angel" and fellow British folkie Bert Jansch on "Bert's Blues." Donovan's songs are quite solid, but Mickie Most's insistence on extroverted productions (it would grow even more pronounced with time) resulted in a collection of songs that sound good on their own but aren't very comfortable in context.

Biography

Born: 10 May 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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