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Hurdy Gurdy Man

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Editors’ Notes

One of the most fascinating albums of the late ‘60s, Hurdy Gurdy Man is a brilliant collaboration between Donovan and producer Mickie Most. The instrumentation is wild and diverse. Donovan performs a variety of styles each to jarring effect. On the title track his usual sunny disposition is given a dark shadow to rumble through the jungle. The band crafts a tough, firm backbeat for “Get Thy Bearings.” “As I Recall It” rallies toward the Kinks’ take on English Music Hall. “West Indian Lady” uses expressive percussion. “Jennifer Juniper” relies on a gentle gait. “The River Song,” “A Sunny Day” and “The Sun Is A Very Magic Fellow” continue Donovan’s paeans to nature. “The Entertaining of A Shy Girl” works a serene acoustic magic. “Tangier” forms the mystical palette for Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” (Future members of Led Zeppelin played on many Donovan tracks.) “Teas” is psychedelic in the best sense. The balance between Donovan’s acoustic whimsy and his deep investment in psychedlelia makes for some of the era’s most intriguing listens. Donovan may be “dated” to his period. But what a stunning period!

Customer Reviews

Peaceful but Strong-Peace...Donovan's Vibes Survive the Times

Buffy St.-Marie and Bob Dylan; Joan Baez and Jeff Beck, Donovan traveled in High songs (and wives) with the Rolling Stones and seeing through Maharishi with The Beatles. Not a lite-weight Bob Dylan, Donovan's simplicity is a cloak covering deep spirituality. Calming souls convulsed with War and Pain; with Love-Wounds and with bad acid trips, Donovan also brings simplicity to life overcomplicated by the evil side of man. His lyrics seem simple but they're meaningful: they're about the spiritual side of man, and woman. His love surmounts the sexual division of our humanity. Donovan knows how to love and to give. He is a guru and a master. And he is "light." Happiness runs through his songs and Dono is not naive as many believe him to be. Give this a "listen." It is one of Donovan's first albums. It's all up to you, anyway.

John Bonham did not play here.

On the iTunes drum essentials description it says the John Bonham played on Hurdy Gurdy Man. He did not play on this.

The Transition Into Horribleness

Donovan is both the best and the worst of the late 60's. At his best he wrote acidic pop tunes that skewer and celebrate 60's counter-culture. Mickie Most then brought eclectic arrangements and a swinging London sound. And when they got the blend just right, these two created classics. Hurdy Gurdy Man. Sunshine Superman. Mellow Yellow. The best thing about Donovan records is finding the lesser known songs that were just as complex and interesting. "Get Thy Bearings" is one such song. He perfectly melds jazz, folk and rock into something that is so utterly unique that it defies comparison. The other side of Donovan is not nearly as interesting. He writes magical tributes to ladybugs or to the sun and then sets them to Vaudevillian oom-pah horns. Or as a flutist twitters in the background, he professes love for the articles of his wardrobe. It's truly horrible to behold. This record is the transition point. Half dizzying, dark commentary on 60's drug culture. You even sense the same paranoia which crept in to the Beatles records of this era as well. The other half is lobotimized happy-speak that seems to have crawled off of some beancurd commune in Oregon. Listen with care.


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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