Scotland's favourite pop-folk troubadour embraces the harsher reality of the '70s with mixed results

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Like many who had fast-tracked the ’60s, Donovan found it hard to adjust to the changing mores of a new decade. His career was floundering, not helped by an ill-advised movie role as The Pied Piper Of Hamelin. Newly signed to Epic, no expense was spared in trying to buck the trend, hiring top musicians and iconic producers for these albums. For ’73’s Cosmic Wheels, Donovan was reunited with Mickie Most, who’d previously facilitated his transition from folk to the wonderfully ornate psychedelia of ’66’s Sunshine Superman. He then recruited de-frocked Stones manager Andrew Oldham, equally out of his time, for Essence To Essence. Critically lambasted on release, both are deliciously flawed, indulgent curios swathed in hippie philosophising, wide-eyed optimism and daft naivety. Listening back to “The Intergalactic Laxative” (from Cosmic Wheels), Donovan must wish the ground would open up and swallow him.


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The Velvet Underground, The Black Crowes, Bunny Wailer, Richard Thompson, Nick Cave, Rhiannon Giddens, Laurie Anderson, Blake Mills, Postcard Records, Mogwai and The Selecter