Four Donovan Originals

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This four CD set consists of Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, Hurdy Gurdy Man, and Barabajagal, remastered and repackaged with detailed historical notes. Each of those titles is available in the U.S. catalog, but this box offers advantages beyond the notes -- the sound on each is superior to its domestic Epic equivalent. Sunshine Superman is sharper here than the Epic CD, but even this one pales next to EMI's 1996 Gold series reissue. Mellow Yellow was always the most problematic of the four albums, existing for many years only as a horrendous-sounding Columbia Special Products LP, and the Epic CD is no audio masterpiece; amazingly, three of the albums in this set were never issued in England intact until long after the fact -- which goes hand in glove with the fact that Donovan had better communication with Columbia's Clive Davis than with anyone at EMI. The version in this box is the best ever, fairly crisp if not overwhelmingly majestic throughout. The acoustic folk-style stuff comes off more compellingly than the heavily dubbed numbers. The Hurdy Gurdy Man is clean and bright, which greatly enhances the value of Jimmy Page's electric guitar on the title track and the sitars, tablas, and other exotic instruments found throughout. Barabajagal's mixed folk and full-band sounds were never better realized, the Jeff Beck Group's accompaniment hard and loud like one of the Led Zeppelin reissues, and the piano on "Atlantis" resounding like chimes. The low price of the box also makes this cost-competitive with the U.S. versions of these titles. (British import)