Donovan on CD

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Chris M
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Donovan on CD

Postby Chris M » Sun Feb 05, 2006 10:29 pm

Just picked up the Sony/Legacy Essential Donovan and now I have the Donovan bug. What are the recommended versions of the 60's albums? Any mono/stereo info would also be appreciated..

Thanks, Chris

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J_Partyka
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Postby J_Partyka » Mon Feb 06, 2006 7:53 am

I've seen emphatic recommendations for the Four Donovan Originals set that was released in 1994 (in the UK, I believe), but it seems next-to-impossible to find. This contained the albums Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman, The Hurdy Gurdy Man and Barabajagal. For those albums, I've generally stuck with vinyl, though I did get the old Columbia CD of Hurdy Gurdy Man, which sounds pretty good to my ears. It's in stereo. (I haven't heard any of the recently remastered imports.)

I tried the Collectables CD two-fer of Mellow Yellow in mono and Wear Your Love Like Heaven in stereo (which is really the first half of A Gift from a Flower to a Garden), and it sounded thin and slightly bright to me. BGO in the UK issued A Gift from a Flower on CD twice: first in mono, and then again in stereo. I have both (this is my favorite Donovan album), and I personally wouldn't recommend going to the trouble of tracking down the mono. The differences aren't major, and the beginning of the song "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" is slightly clipped. The stereo is much easier to find and sounds very good; I recommend it. It compares quite well to my clean old Epic vinyl. (I haven't heard Collectables' edition of that one.)

(Side note: If you like the song "Wear Your Love Like Heaven," it is worth finding a good copy of the mono single mix of that song. I find it preferable; there's a decorative line played on a Mellotron, or something similar, during the last verse that's comparatively buried in stereo. I managed to find a clean white-label mono 45, and made a pretty good needle-drop of it and its B-side, "Oh Gosh." Sounds great to me.)

That's about all I have by Donovan on CD, apart from the Audio Fidelity Storyteller SACD and the Sony remaster of the Greatest Hits album, both of which sound excellent, IMO.

Chris M
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Postby Chris M » Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:24 am

Thanks!
"I've had 40 years experience with hearing tape and vinyl. I was recording tapes before you were born" - Grant

22d row
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Postby 22d row » Sun Mar 05, 2006 8:16 am

Four Donovan Originals contains the best CD versions of Barabajagal, Mellow Yellow, Sunshine Superman and Hurdy Gurdy Man, except the versions of the songs "Sunshine Superman," "Season of the Witch", and basically the tracks that were released as singles have NR on them. The rest of the set is NR free and sounds better than the US Epic CDs. The current UK remasters are a horror. They do not contain NR but they have a fatiguing treble boost (credit goes to Peter Mew), clipped song starts (the Barabajagal CD is the worst offender), and wrong tapes used. Unfortunately they have lots of good bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere, so you may want to get them anyway, just for those. The US Epic CDs are better than the new UK remasters in all cases, because they do not have the weird EQ on them and do not have any clipping off the starts of songs, although they are higher gen tapes.

As far as mono/stereo, Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow (the albums) never had a true stereo release (neither had a stereo mix), so the only stereo LPs of it out there are electronically reprocessed. The CD releases have been in the true mono fortunately. The true stereo mix of the long version of Sunshine Superman on the greatest hits comps was made in 1969 specifically for the comp of that year and the rest of the lp was not mixed to stereo at that time.

Of the tracks that there are both mono and true stereo mixes, none have any big differences, so Donovan is not an artist you'd have to collect both versions for. Usually the dedicated mono mixes on tracks where the LP is true stereo appears on the 45 mixes. For example, I have the 45 of Hurdy Gurdy Man in mono. There are some differences but nothing major.

The BGO Gift from a Flower CD sounds comparable to the LP.

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lukpac
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Postby lukpac » Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:42 am

Have you compared the tracks on the Golden Age of Underground Radio CDs?
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

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Postby 22d row » Sun Mar 05, 2006 12:14 pm

lukpac wrote:Have you compared the tracks on the Golden Age of Underground Radio CDs?
Good idea. I just compared the US Epic, the Four Originals and the Golden Age Vol II versions of Barabajagal. The Four Originals sounds the best. The Golden Age Steve Hoffman mastered version is fine but it's clearly from a higher gen tape and sounds like it. The worst of all 3 is the US Epic CD which has a more limited range and I've decided has a slight treble tweak (still miles ahead of the currently available shrieky, headache-inducing Mewtilated UK remaster).

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lukpac
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Postby lukpac » Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:57 pm

I've got Vol I if you need it for Atlantis and Hurdy Gurdy Man.
"I know because it is impossible for a tape to hold the compression levels of these treble boosted MFSL's like Something/Anything. The metal particulate on the tape would shatter and all you'd hear is distortion if even that." - VD

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Postby 22d row » Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:05 pm

lukpac wrote:I've got Vol I if you need it for Atlantis and Hurdy Gurdy Man.
Thanks for the kind offer, Luke, but I already have Vol I. Good series.