A collection of songs well worth having
Wj Skillcorn | Washington, Tyne and Wear United Kingdom | 04/02/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was lucky enough to obtain a mint copy of the original vinyl record of this album (which was first issued in 1977 by EMI) and took to the music very easily. There was nothing deep or too meaningful in the songs apart from, perhaps, 'Local Boy Chops Wood' - about fame in the music business (Brian Jones) - and 'The Light'. This latter track plots the history of (one assumes) Donovan through his early years.
The disc comes with extensive notes of Donovan's discography some, it would seem, having been quoted by the great man himself.
I believe the songs are statements of attitudes to various things. 'Brave New World' and 'Dare to be Different' are two such items and one is left wondering as to what, exactly, they refer. In fact you are left wondering this through most of the album!
It is strange that the order of play of the ten tracks has been changed on the CD from the original vinyl record. I always assume that the order of play is important; that the thought one is left with from one track somehow affects the relevence of the next. So why change the order? I can't answer that one, but for the record the original order of play was as follows: 5,2,1,10,7//3,8,6,9,4
Dyed-in-the-wool Donovan fans will need to have this CD, and rightly so. I am not so sure about others, but the music is good, it has a beat, it has meaning and is better than the average. Isn't that enough?"
Not the kind of Donovan album I like
Wj Skillcorn | 11/17/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Alas, I discover that (with this album) Donovan is actually human!!! With so many classics under his belt, his stigma of being conceived as the perfect songwritter is slightly marred by this album. For the record, this album is NOT terrible or worthless. It's just not that good/memorable and is nowhere in the same class of material he did from 1964-1973. Thank goodness with his live albums in the 80's and Sutras in the 90's and the "Pied Piper" (which are all worthy efforts), this album just appears to be a "blip" in his otherwise incredible repitoire of material. My problem with this album is the over-instrumentation (Donovan has 4 other band members who play bass, keyboards, electric guitar and drums) and the reliance of the contribution of those members. SO you end up with an album that sounds like it wanted to be a contender for the top-40. You end up with songs that are over-produced and over-instrumentized. To me the essential Donovan will always be material like "HMS Donovan", "A gift from a flower to a garden", "Sutras", "Fairytale", (any of his accoustic live albums) and even "Open Road". This album contains some tracks that are almost even disco-sounding in nature. But given the time frame (1977), this seemed to be pretty common for well-esteemed artists to attempt to drastically change their trademark sound to the new sound of the late 70's in order to capture a "new" audience. This album (although as fun as it may have been for Donovan to make according to the inner notes) seems like a rush job. I almost get the impression that Donovan was pressured to "adapt to the newer sound" (ie, more drum beats and that late 70's sound) so as to try and make the charts. The songs are somewhat simple. Some even atrocious (ie, Kalifornia Kiddies). "Lady of the Stars" starts out with the vintage Donovan sound for the first minute until he breaks into a silly syrupy singing verse which completely ruins the song for me. Although not a complete loss, the lyrics are still quite intelligence and "Maya's Dance" and "Astral Angel" seem to make the album a little more tolerable. In Donovan's defense, so many legendary artists/bands of the late 60's and early 70's were "forced" to change their style around 1976/1977 at the onset of the "disco"/"syrupy pop" revolution so I cannot really pick on Donovan. He's a legend! This album shows his attempt to kind of "sell out". But with Donovan, he was never about making money so it's unfair to say he "sold out". More realistically, I think he wanted to capture a new group of fans by making a more modern sounding album. Think of this album as a more commercial/syrupy sounding "Open Road" although not remotely as good as "Open Road". Never-the-less, it's not an awful/terrible album. There's a reason why Donovan probobly never performs any of the songs on this album in concerts.As the inner notes say, Donovan had fun making this album with the other band members. Unfortunately, I did not have that same kind of fun listening to it. Aside from a very few moments, Donovan's brilliance and magic are missing on this "forcedably pressured" attempt to make a commercial top-40 album with that late 70's sound which mixes a little bit of disco, a little bit of late 70's pop (aka, late 70's/early 80's Genesis AFTER the departure of Peter Gabriel/Steve Hackett). For the most part, the songs on this album are forgettable. "Sing my Song" and "Kalifornia Kiddies" are just plain silly and a waste of time listening to..."
Stella | Tennessee, USA | 10/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love "Local Boy Chops Wood" and "Dare to Be Different". They're great little catchy songs. I love that Donovan can be versitile."