Sunshine Superman (album)

Sunshine Superman is the third studio album by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. It was released in the United States on August 26, 1966,[7] but was not released in the UK because of a contractual dispute. In June 1967, a compilation of tracks from this album and the follow-up Mellow Yellow was released as Sunshine Superman in the UK.

Sunshine Superman
Studio album by
Released26 August 1966 (1966-08-26)
RecordedDecember 1965–May 1966
ProducerMickie Most
Donovan chronology
Sunshine Superman
Mellow Yellow
Singles from Sunshine Superman
  1. "Sunshine Superman" / "The Trip"
    Released: July 1966
UK version (1967)

The album featured Donovan's titular hit single,[8] which was initially released in the US in July 1966. The album was Donovan's most successful, peaking at number 11 in the US and remaining on the Billboard Top LPs chart for six months. The 1967 UK edition peaked at number 25.

The tracks from Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow were not mixed into stereo, with the exception of "Season of the Witch", until the 2011 2-CD deluxe edition issued by UK EMI.

History edit

Donovan in 1965, one year before the album's recording

Whilst still incorporating folk music, these recordings mark a distinct change in Donovan's music, representing some of the first psychedelia released.[9][10] A full rock band backs up Donovan on many of the songs, and the instrumentation had been expanded, being one of the first pop albums extensively to use the sitar and other unique musical instruments.[11] This change is partially the result of working with producer Mickie Most, whose pop sensibilities led to chart hits for many other artists at the time.[12]

Sunshine Superman integrates psychedelic rock and folk styles.[13] The album's lyrical content encompasses Donovan's increasing ability to portray "Swinging London" and give listeners an insider's look into the mid-sixties pop scene. He was close to the Beatles and Brian Jones at this time, and he became widely known after "Sunshine Superman" became a chart-topper in the US,[8] and hit number 2 in the UK. Donovan's penchant for name-dropping in songs such as two influenced by his travel to Los Angeles,[8] "The Trip" and "The Fat Angel" (written for Cass Elliot) coupled with his chart success helped elevate him to superstar status. In addition to noting the people in the pop scene, Donovan recorded "Bert's Blues" for his friend and folk music notable Bert Jansch. Contrasting this modern bent was Donovan's fascination with medieval themes in such songs. The title track was also inspired by Brian Jones' girlfriend Linda Lawrence.[14]

Several other songs were recorded for Sunshine Superman, but did not make the cut. These include "Museum" (later rerecorded and released on Mellow Yellow), "Superlungs My Supergirl" (later rerecorded and released on Barabajagal) and "Breezes of Patchulie" (originally called "Darkness of My Night" and released on Donovan's 1964 demo collection Sixty Four). The Sunshine Superman recordings of these songs were all included on Troubadour The Definitive Collection 1964–1976.

Legacy edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [15]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [citation needed]
The Independent     [16]
MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide3/5[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [citation needed]

In 2017, Sunshine Superman was ranked the 199th greatest album of the 1960s by Pitchfork.[18]

In the video for the Beatles' "A Day in the Life", a close up of a spinning turntable shows the Epic Records version of Sunshine Superman playing. The film was shot at the recording sessions for the song, which was included on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. A cover version of "The Fat Angel" was recorded by Jefferson Airplane for their 1968 live album Bless Its Pointed Little Head. Monster Magnet covered "Three King Fishers" (as "Three Kingfishers") on their 2013 album Last Patrol, with a live version included on 2014's Milking the Stars: A Re-Imagining of Last Patrol.

Track listing edit

Original US release edit

All tracks are written by Donovan.

Side one

  1. "Sunshine Superman" – 3:15
  2. "Legend of a Girl Child Linda" – 6:50
  3. "Three King Fishers" – 3:16
  4. "Ferris Wheel" – 4:12
  5. "Bert's Blues" – 3:56

Side two

  1. "Season of the Witch" – 4:56
  2. "The Trip" – 4:34
  3. "Guinevere" – 3:41
  4. "The Fat Angel" – 4:11
  5. "Celeste" – 4:08

UK release edit

Due to the contractual dispute between Pye Records and Epic Records, Donovan's releases were held back in the UK throughout 1966 and early 1967. During this time, Donovan released Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow in the US. To catch up to the Epic Records schedule in America, Pye Records compiled a cross-section of both albums and titled it Sunshine Superman.

It was released in the UK (Pye NPL 18181) in June 1967 and reached #25 in the British charts.

Side one

  1. "Sunshine Superman"
  2. "Legend of a Girl Child Linda"
  3. "The Observation"
  4. "Guinevere"
  5. "Celeste"
  6. "Writer in the Sun"

Side two

  1. "Season of the Witch"
  2. "Hampstead Incident"
  3. "Sand and Foam"
  4. "Young Girl Blues"
  5. "Three Kingfishers"
  6. "Bert's Blues"
(Titles in italics are from Mellow Yellow)

Personnel edit

On "Sunshine Superman" and other tracks recorded in England:

References edit

  1. ^ Matijas-Mecca, Christian (2020). Listen to Psychedelic Rock! Exploring a Musical Genre. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. pp. 66–68. ISBN 978-1-4408-6198-7 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Bush, John (2009). "Sunshine Superman [US]". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  3. ^ Bush, John (2009). "Sunshine Superman [US]". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  4. ^ de Visé, Daniel (19 January 2023). "Twelve Classic Albums of the Late British Invansion". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 May 2023.
  5. ^ Terich, Jeff; Blyweiss, Adam; Hickman, Langdon; Nierenberg, Jacob; Pearson, Paul; Pilch, Patrick; Rega, Konstantin (11 July 2019). "10 Essential Psychedelic Folk Albums". Treble. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  6. ^ Segretto, Mike (2022). "1966". 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Minute - A Critical Trip Through the Rock LP Era, 1955–1999. Backbeat. p. 91. ISBN 9781493064601.
  7. ^ Swanson, Dave (26 August 2016). "How Donovan's 'Sunshine Superman' Made a Psychedelic Breakthrough". Classic Rock and Culture. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  8. ^ a b c Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 48 - The British are Coming! The British are Coming!: With an emphasis on Donovan, the Bee Gees and the Who. [Part 5]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  9. ^ Swanson, Dave (26 August 2016). "How Donovan Scored a Breakthrough With Sunshine Superman". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 15 August 2020.
  10. ^ "British Psychedelia". AllMusic. 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  11. ^ Barry Miles (2009). The British Invasion. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. p. 273. ISBN 978-1-4027-6976-4.
  12. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 877. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  13. ^ Dawn Goldsmith, Melissa Ursula (2019). Listen to Classic Rock! Exploring a Musical Genre. ABC-CLIO. p. 156. ISBN 978-1440865787.
  14. ^ Simpson, Dave (2 May 2016). "How We Made: Donovan's 'Sunshine Superman'". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  15. ^ Bush, John (2009). "Sunshine Superman [US]". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  16. ^ Andy Gill (3 June 2011). "Album: Donovan, Sunshine Superman Stereo Special Edition (EMI) - Reviews - Music". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  17. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel, eds. (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 355. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  18. ^ "The 200 Best Albums of the 1960s". Pitchfork. 22 August 2017.

External links edit