Now here’s a mono record we can get behind! If more mono records sounded big and open the way this one does we would totally be on board with the current movement towards One Channel. (As that has not been our experience we remain skeptical.)
This is by far the best sounding, quietest pressing we have ever played. It boasts Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, backed with even better than Super Hot Stamper sound (A++ to A+++) on side two, and it’s pressed on exceptionally quiet vinyl (for Hickory anyway).
Mono is in fact the secret to getting these early Hickory records to sound their best. The recordings are mono; the stereo pressings are simply electronically reprocessed. Now, that’s not always the kiss of death, but as a rule it doesn’t help the sound much and has the potential to cause tonality and imaging issues.
The Real Donovan is a compilation of singles, along with some tracks which have been sourced from the first two albums, and an EP, as well as a couple of b-sides. (Hickory seems to have taken a page from Capitol here, as that’s exactly what The Beatles Second Album is. As I recall that album sold quite well in the states.)
As a compilation the sound will vary quite a bit from track to track. We played the first three on both sides to get a feel for the sound overall.
A++. The first track has dubby guitars but the vocals are fine. The next is much better, with clear and present vocals, a bit dry but not too dry. The third had the kind of big mono sound we like, with lots of space in the studio.
Overall, A++, natural and well-mastered.
A++ to A+++, mostly because it’s richer and livelier. The first track sure is. The second boasts sweet guitars and breathy vocals, nice! The third has some crazy, fun reverb that works well for 1966.
A bit better than side one. It may not get much better than this.
Oh Deed I Do
Catch the Wind
Remember the Alamo
The Ballad of the Crystal Man
Belated Forgiveness Plea
The War Drags On
To Try for the Sun
Donovan left Hickory Records for Epic Records in a messy contractual battle in 1966, and Hickory, which retained his folk-based 1965 catalog, retaliated by releasing a series of compilations to compete with his new Epic work. This is the first one, containing hits like “Catch the Wind” and “Colours,” as well as a few tracks previously available only in the U.K.
Wikipedia Discography with our notes
What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid (1965) (aka Colours)
The Real Donovan (1966)
Sunshine Superman (1966)
[not much luck with this one yet]
Mellow Yellow (1967)
A Gift from a Flower to a Garden (1967)
(double album released separately as Wear Your Love Like Heaven and For Little Ones)
The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
[the best sound we’ve heard as of 2013]
[bad sound as far as we can tell]