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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After forty years, finally a definitive version of a masterpiece, January 28, 2006
This review is from: Sunshine Superman (Audio CD)
"Sunshine Superman" remains to this day Donovan's greatest work, a pioneering masterpiece which ranks as one of the best albums of all time. That the 19-year-old could write and perform a work so ahead of its time--he was working on the same artistic level as The Beatles, who were recording "Revolver" during the same months--seems astonishing today, but it took forty years for a proper version of the album to be released.

"Sunshine Superman" originally appeared in September 1966 in the US only in "reprocessed stereo", and when it was finally released in the UK in June of '67 (which made it seem less pioneering than it was in those heady times) it was combined with songs from "Mellow Yellow" in a mono version that sounded OK but in spite of the clear genius of the songwriting and arrangments, the sound on both versions seemed "off" and the CD versions up to this point did nothing to improve matters. Finally, forty years later, some wizard at EMI properly remastered the sound and the results are astonishing: the acoustic guitars, sitars, tablas, harpsichords and organs have a deep, rich resonance to them which wraps around the listener's ear like a fine silk tapestry.

The album contains not a single weak track and although the pace towards the end of the first side slows to a crawl (with three slow tracks in a row), all are gorgeous. The title track and "Season Of The Witch" were memorable psychedelic rockers, while stoned ballads like "Three Kingfishers" and "Guinevere" are awash in a dreamy, novel synthesis of Indian and Celtic influences that is simply intoxicating. The combination of acoustic and electric guitars, electric violin, harpsichord, strings, sitars and tablas made it one of the first pyschedelic reocords and Donovan has since belatedly been recognized for his contributions to the movement, his influence on The Beatles being particularly strong (see The White Album).

The next two albums, "Mellow Yellow" and "A Gift From A Flower To A Garden" were equally focused and essential but "Sunshine Superman" remains his greatest, both lyrically and musically,

and the measure by which all of his later works were compared.

This remastered version also contains the essential outtakes "Breezes Of Patchulie", "Museum" and "Superlungs" which are all in the same breathtaking mold as the album (all three should have been included, actually, and "Museum" and "Superlungs" may have balanced the album a bit more with rockers, but both found their way in satisfactory versions on later works), as well as a few acoustic demos never before released. In all, an essential purchase for all Donovan fans, who have been waiting years and years for something like this to come out--and unlike some reviewers here, I thought the liners were fine and quite detailed.
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Initial post: Feb 3, 2016, 1:25:33 AM PST
I think what you say about the album not containing a single weak track shows just how great this album is. I cannot think of many albums you could say this about, maybe Highway 61 and a few others. Even with the Beatles, who had the tightest quality control in the business for a few years: they had decided that there should be a track sung by Ringo on each album, so there had to be at least one weak track on each album (this Comment I stole from someone who writes about music for a living). The comparison goes further: Donovan had his quarrels with the record companies, so what was released in his home country, the UK, was a total shambles, whilst the US got the real deal, and in the Beatlles' case it was the reverse. The only country in the world where they had control was England. None of these albums was released in the UK in its original form: Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, Hurdy Gurdy Man, Barabajagal, In Concert, and by the time he was in control again Donovan's career was over.
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