The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Superman and Green Lantern Still Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Him: Donovan Preps Expanded “Sunshine Superman”

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It wasn’t easy for Donovan (real name: Donovan Philips Leitch) to shake the early accusation that he was merely a Scottish-born clone of Bob Dylan.  Surely songs like 1965’s “Catch the Wind” did nothing to dispel the myth.  Donovan himself acknowledged the debt in 2001, confessing “I sounded like him for five minutes” while pointing out the musical heroes referenced by both artists.  But any Dylan comparisons were passé by the time Donovan released Sunshine Superman, one of the first truly psychedelic pop records and certainly the first to reach No. 1 on the American charts.

EMI has announced plans for an expanded 2-CD version of Donovan’s classic 1966 Sunshine Superman album due on June 6. It’s timed with a Royal Albert Hall gig where the troubadour will perform the album in its entirety conducted by his original orchestrator, John Cameron.  Sunshine Superman teamed Donovan with producer Mickie Most, also well-known for his productions for Lulu, Herman’s Hermits and The Animals.  Together with arranger Cameron, Donovan brought Eastern instrumentation to the mainstream in a unique blend of jazz, rock, pop and folk.  The acoustic guitars, sitars, tablas, harpsichords and organs gave the album a sound unlike any other heard on Top 40 radio at that time.  But it all wasn’t sunshine behind the scenes.  Hit the jump for the story of Sunshine Superman plus the full track listing and discographical information for EMI’s upcoming reissue!

It was late in 1965 when Donovan split with his original management team and signed with Ashley Kozak of Brian Epstein’s NEMS Enterprises.  Kozak introduced the singer to the American impresario Allen Klein, who recommended Mickie Most as a producer.  In December of that year, Billboard reported that a deal between Donovan, Klein and Most was in the offing, as was an American signing to Epic Records.  But Donovan was apparently still signed to Pye Records in the U.K. (home to Petula Clark, The Kinks and others) and Pye’s American licensee was Warner Bros. Records.  The legal dispute was a lengthy one, and as a result, his American and British releases differed significantly.  Sunshine Superman saw its first issue on the Epic label in America in September 1966, and the U.K. release didn’t arrive until June 1967, by which time Donovan had already released its follow-up, Mellow Yellow, on Epic in March.  To make the most of the available material, this Sunshine Superman was an entirely different album created for the U.K. market, drawing on both the original LP and Mellow Yellow.  Donovan’s contractual problems also prevented Mellow Yellow, The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) and Barabajagal (1969) from receiving U.K. issue.

The British version of Sunshine Superman dropped three of the songs (“Ferris Wheel,” “The Trip,” and “Fat Angel”) and substituted five from Mellow Yellow (“The Observation,” “Writer In The Sun,” “Hampstead Incident,” “Sand And Foam,” and “Young Girl Blues”).  Alas, the delayed release of the album in Britain made it seem far less ahead of the times than it did upon its American release; by mid-1967, psychedelia had become more commonplace.

While Sunshine Superman may have seemed radical at the time of its American debut, its songs have held up well over the past decades thanks to a diversity of styles.  The title track remains a joyous capsule of psych-pop circa 1965, and Donovan reaffirms his folk credentials on “Legend of a Girl Child Linda.”  There’s raga-style folk on “Ferris Wheel,” a touch of blues on “Bert’s,” and driving rock on “The Trip.”  Best of all might be the eerie, electric and oft-covered “Season of the Witch.”

While both the U.S. and U.K. editions of Sunshine Superman have been released on CD, EMI’s 2-CD set will mark the first time both albums have been released in one package.  EMI’s last reissue of the original American album, in 2005, appended seven bonus tracks, only five of which have made the cut this time around.  Demos of “Good Trip” and “House of Jansch” (named for folkie Bert Jansch, also name-checked on “Bert’s Blues” on the U.K. album) have been dropped from the line-up.

The original U.S. Sunshine Superman originally appeared in “reprocessed stereo” and mono, and when it was finally released in the U.K., it was in mono.  EMI’s 2005 remaster (EMI 8735662) has been utilized for most of Disc 2, representing the U.K. album version; remastering information is as-yet-unknown for Disc 1, the mono American version.  “Epistle to Dippy” will appear on Disc 1 in stereo; it’s possible that the long version of the title song may appear in stereo as well.

EMI’s U.S./U.K. Sunshine Superman is due on June 6.  No pre-order link is currently available, but we’ll update as soon as one is active.

Donovan, Sunshine Superman (EMI Catalogue, 2011)

CD 1: The U.S. Album (Epic LN 24217/BN 26217, 1965)

  1. Sunshine Superman
  2. Legend Of A Girl Child Linda
  3. Three Kingfishers
  4. Ferris Wheel
  5. Bert’s Blues
  6. Season Of The Witch
  7. The Trip
  8. Guinevere
  9. The Fat Angel
  10. Celeste
  11. Breezes Of Patchulie
  12. Museum (First Version)
  13. Superlungs (First Version)
  14. The Land Of Doesn’t Have To Be
  15. Sunny South Kensington
  16. Epistle To Dippy (Stereo) (2005 Digital Remaster)
  17. Writer In The Sun
  18. Hampstead Incident
  19. Sunshine Superman (Long Version)

CD 2: The U.K. Album (Pye NPL 18181, 1967)

  1. Sunshine Superman (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  2. Legend Of A Girl Child Linda (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  3. The Observation (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  4. Guinevere (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  5. Celeste (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  6. Writer In The Sun (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  7. Season Of The Witch (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  8. Hampstead Incident (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  9. Sand And Foam (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  10. Young Girl Blues (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  11. Three Kingfishers (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  12. Bert’s Blues (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  13. Ferris Wheel (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  14. The Trip (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)
  15. The Fat Angel (2005 – Remaster) (Mono)

Disc 1, Tracks 1-10 from Epic LP LN 24217 (Mono)/BN 26217 (Stereo), 1965
Disc 1, Track 11 first issued on Troubadour: The Definitive Collection 1964-1976, Epic E2K 46986, 1992
Disc 1, Tracks 12-14 first issued on Sunshine Superman, EMI CD 8735662, 1995
Disc 1, Track 15, 17-18 original versions from Mellow Yellow, Epic LN 24239 (Mono)/BN 24639 (Stereo), 1967
Disc 1, Track 16 original version from Epic single 5-10127, 1967
Disc 1, Track 19 from Donovan’s Greatest Hits, Epic BXN 26439, 1969
Disc 2, Tracks 1-12 from Pye LP NPL 18181, 1967
Disc 2, Tracks 13-15 from Epic LP LN 24217, 1965

Written by Joe Marchese

May 10, 2011 at 13:00

Posted in Donovan, News, Reissues

3 Responses

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  1. […] of Sunshine Superman fattened out with bonus tracks, though nothing previously unreleased. See The Second Disc for track […]

  2. What a great album cover the UK version is… I’d never seen that before. Interesting that Batman, and not Green Lantern, made it on to the cover.

    I only know a couple of songs from the album (either version)… The awesome title song, of course, and the also awesome “Season of the Witch.” I’d be curious to hear the rest of the album(s).


    May 10, 2011 at 21:37

  3. Looks like Spider-Man made it on there too? Sweet.


    May 10, 2011 at 21:38

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