Thursday, January 26, 2012

Donovan - HMS Donovan

Anyone who likes the Donovan of "Sunshine Superman" or "Mellow Yellow" will probably want to ignore this album -- but anyone who liked the Donovan of "Colours," "Turquoise," or "Poor Cow," or Gift From a Flower to a Garden, will have to track it down, because they'll find it essential. One has to give Donovan a lot of credit for attempting a release like HMS Donovan in 1971, although it never came close to charting at the time of its release. The drugged-out hippie era that had spawned trippy folk-based albums such as Gift From a Flower to a Garden was long past, and acoustic folk recordings were considered passe, yet here was Donovan setting words by Lewis Carroll, Thora Stowell, Ffrida Wolfe, Agnes Grozier Herbertson, Lucy Diamond, Edward Lear, Eugene Field, William Butler Yeats, Natalie Joan, and Thomas Hood, among others, to what were often hauntingly beautiful melodies, mostly strummed on a guitar. What's more, it just about all works perfectly, once one gets past the tape-effect tricks and other silliness of the opening track, "The Walrus and the Carpenter." Spawned at a time when the singer/songwriter was about to become a father, the album has a decidedly playful tone, even more so than its obvious predecessor, For Little Ones. Lovely as that record was, there are also long stretches of HMS Donovan that have far prettier melodies, arrangements, and accompaniment, played at more attractive tempos. The playing here, which is mostly just Donovan's solo guitar with maybe a string bass and organ, and an unnamed female singer or two backing him on a few tracks, is crisper and more focused (along with the recording), and the tunes are seldom short of gorgeous, whether written by Donovan or simply his arrangements of traditional folk melodies. HMS Donovan marked the singer's last venture of this kind, into his mid-/late-'60s folk style, or into folk-style children's songs, and it was the last of his albums to be characterized by whimsy. As a sign of some of the behind-the-scenes tensions that characterized its production, HMS Donovan contains one attempt at a rock track, in the form of "Homesickness" -- this failed attempt to emulate such late-'60s singles as "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is the only failed track on the album, and was also the only track here on which Donovan's longtime producer Mickie Most had any input. "Lord of the Dance" (written by Sydney Carter and utilizing a melody that Americans may know better as "Simple Gifts"), "Queen Mab," and "Celia of the Seals" are worth the price of admission by themselves. The BGO CD reissue sounds great and has very thorough annotation by John Tobler. - by Bruce Eder, AMG

Artist: Donovan (Leitch)
Album: HMS Donovan
Year: 1971
Label: BGO Records (Remastered, 1997)
Runtime: 74:09

1.  The Walrus And The Carpenter (Lewis Caroll/Donovan) 8:36
2.  Jabberwocky (Lewis Caroll/Donovan) 2:37
3.  The Seller Of Stars (Thora Stowell/Donovan) 2:52
4.  Lost Time (Frida Wolf/Donovan) 2:29
5.  The Little White Road (Thora Stowell/Donovan) 2:05
6.  The Star (Donovan Leitch) 1:45
7.  Coulter's Candy (Donovan Leitch) 1:44
8.  The Road (Lucy Diamond/Donovan) 1:08
9.  Things To Wear (Agnes Grozier Herbertson/Donovan) 1:06
10.  The Owl And The Pussycat (Edward Lear/Donovan) 2:24
11.  Homesickness (Donovan Leitch) 2:31
12.  Fishes In Love (Donovan Leitch) 1:04
13.  Mr. Wind (Donovan Leitch) 2:38
14.  Wynken Blynken And Nod (Eugene Filed/Donovan) 2:26
15.  Celia Of The Seals (Donovan Leitch) 3:02
16.  The Pee Song (Donovan Leitch) 2:06
17.  The Voyage Of The Moon (Donovan Leitch) 5:18
18.  The Unicorn (Donovan Leitch) 0:55
19.  Lord Of The Dance (Sidney Carter) 2:31
20.  Little Ben (Donovan Leitch) 1:44
21.  Can Ye Dance (Donovan Leitch) 1:32
22.  In An Old-Fashioned Picture Book (Donovan Leitch) 3:11
23.  The Song Of Wandering Aengus (W.B. Yeats/Donovan) 3:56
24.  A Funny Man (Natalie Joan/Donovan) 1:51
25.  Lord Of The Reedy River (Donovan Leitch) 2:38
26.  Henry Martin (Traditional) 5:08
27.  Queen Mab (Donovan Leitch) 2:18
28.  La Moora (Donovan Leitch) 2:21

Donovan Leitch (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica)
Mike Thompson (Bass, Organ)
John Carr (Drums)
Danny Thompson (Bass Fiddle) - 15
Mary (Fiddle)


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  2. Hi Mr.Pc
    Thanks for your invitation.
    Of course we can exchange links.



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