Wj Skillcorn | Washington, Tyne and Wear United Kingdom | 03/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In common with a lot of music lovers of my age and generation, (I'm 52) I buy very few new albums these days. I would say 85 percent are the CD equivalent of vinyl records I first bought many years ago. The crisp, clean sounds of the original recordings come through and produce a whole new experience of listening enjoyment. So too with this collection of Donovan songs.
I consider this album to be a very good mix of his songs - some lively but with a message - while others are much more relaxed but just as thought provoking. 'Operating Manual...' is one of the former, while 'There is an Ocean' is one of the latter. And of course who could not fail to be moved by the final song in the set 'Sailing Homeward', the journey home, through life, wherever that ultimate home may happen to be.
Perhaps I am the wrong person to be writing a review of Donovan's music. The man can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, apart from 'Sutras', that is. But I think you will love this CD."
The very best of Donovan
Leigh Ann De Lany | El Cajon, CA United States | 07/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the few Donovan albums that truely highlights his vocal abilities. "Sailing Homeward" and "There Is An Ocean" are two of his best written songs from this time period. Almost as much variety to the song styles on this CD as his rarely seen LP "7-Tease". If you like Dono, even just a little bit, get this CD. You'll be glad you did.A Donvoan follower from the good old days, I have to disagree with John Skillcorn. I loved Sutras. Except for the Clear-Browed One, I think it is a great CD. Wish I could seay the same for Neutronica."
An uneven, but essential album
Leigh Ann De Lany | 11/24/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Donovan's 1973-1980 era may have resulted in inferior albums to what he was doing in the 60's but there's still some classic songs that he wrote during that era. "Essence to Essence" finds him experimenting more with exceeding the boundaries of his vocal limitations. This album is split right up the middle. There's some excellent melodic pieces that are some of his best ever. But in the same token, there's some very weak songs. I noticed Donovan experimenting more with a falsetto. Sadly, that falsetto (along with the lyrics) ended up spoiling the song "Boy for every girl" which really has a nice cozy nostalgic 70's melody. If it were not for the silly lyrics and his falsetto (which sometimes sounds like Tiny Tim on a bad day), this song would have been a classic. However, enough with the negative, there's 2 songs on this album that make the album essential. "There is an Ocean" and the closing track "Sailing Homeward". These 2 songs rank right up there with the best songs that Donovan did from any period-era. Definitely worth the purchase. The other 9 tracks are mostly mediocre songs with some very good moments sprinkled thruought. Don't expect anything near his classic output from the 60's or "Open Road"/"HMS". I have not heard "Cosmic Wheels". Never-the-less, this album ranks a *** for me due to 2 major classic songs, some good/decent songs and some horrible songs."
'Space Captain' | Victoria, B. C. Canada | 05/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Only 4/5 stars ,because nothing is perfect.CD is shining (quality-wise),as I remember it being;not as 'warm' as the analogue LP, but as 'full' as the quad-discrete 8 track.I saw Donovan live in Toronto shortly after the release of the LP;great memories- a good time in my life! I have read some criticism of this album but I love it!I've been a fan of Mr. Leitch's music since I heard "sunshine Superman" in the mid-Sixties. Also I am a fellow Glaswegian. Edd firstname.lastname@example.org"
Lee Armstrong | Winterville, NC United States | 11/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Essence to Essence" is my favorite Donovan album. It was not his commercial blockbuster. However, it is the set that communicates great inner peace and a world vision of a loving planet; therefore, it is Donovan's most idealistic moment, his highest achievement. Only "Sailing Homeward" is usually represented in retrospective collections, yet there are three of his best songs here. The most exquisite is "There Is An Ocean," one of the deepest most meditative, exquisitely beautiful songs ever written. Donovan's acoustic guitar strums softly as Danny Thompson's bass fiddle communicates tones of darkness interplaying with the light, "Innocence in childhood false men misconstrue to be years of darkess spent in shade, denying childhood's vision of the God of Love so that Truth be turned about and untruth made." This is incredibly deep. With the turn of a phrase and the inflection of his guitar, Donovan communicates musically what theologians write volumes to replicate. The track is followed by the joyful and light "The Dignity of Man" with Donovan's vocals full of conviction and love, "Sing of proud black brother, sing of pale faced son, sing the joy of a mother; She's the Mother of Everyone." This is Donovan's great celebration of humanity as children of the Divine. The album closer "Sailing Homeward" is another gorgeous melody, deep & contemplative, making me think of the final voyage as we leave our Earth existence into the uncharted waters of the spirit horizon. The other tracks on the CD bop and bend like "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth" with its cosmic advocacy for environmental friendliness. "Lazy Daze" is a carefree romp with that jovial lyric, "She's looking for a tan with a real sensitive man, burn her bra, simply rest her jeans." "Life Goes On," another of my favorites, has pulsing rhythm and a joyful chorus. "Yellow Star" is a cosmic spaceship track with Henry McCullough's electric guitar snaking through the melody. "Boy for Every Girl" and "Saint Valentine's Angel" are joyful tunes celebrating romantic love. "Life Is A Merry-Go-Round" is another wonderful classic Donovan melody with its simple but riveting message, "Make up your mind to be happy." With Donovan's new "Beat Cafe" recently released, this Master musician is still making essential music. "Essence to Essence" stands out for me as Donovan's most important album, his greatest message. Bravo!"