Liner Note Authors: Donovan; Geezer Butler; Kenney Jones; Rickie Lee Jones; Arlo Guthrie; Anthony DeCurtis.
Bearing the same name as the 2004 compilation The Essential Donovan and containing every one of that disc's 14 songs, the 2012 double-disc set The Essential Donovan -- its release timed to coincide with the singer/songwriter's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- is perhaps better compared to the 1992 box Troubadour: The Definitive Collection, another two-CD set that delved deeply into Donovan's career. Troubadour contained 44 songs and The Essential Donovan tops out at 32, yet those 12 songs aren't necessarily missed. All the hits are here, along with a handful of rarities -- cuts that have never shown up on CD in the U.S., including an early mono version of "The Land of Doesn't Have to Be" and two songs, "Sunny Goodge Street" and "Sand and Foam," taken from a 1967 concert at the Anaheim Convention Center, plus "Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)" -- but what distinguishes this Essential from Troubadour is that it emphasizes Donovan's psychedelic mod hipster side over his wannabe Dylan folkie (the title of Troubadour was no accident on the 1992 set) and for audiences that prefer "Mellow Yellow," "Sunshine Superman," "Hurdy Gurdy Man," "Wear Your Love Like Heaven," "Jennifer Juniper," and "Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)" to "Catch the Wind," "Colours," and "Universal Soldier," this is the preferable collection. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Uncut (magazine) (p.92) - "The dark narrative 'Sand And Foam', taken from the reissue of his underrated '68 live opus, is an inspired deep cut on this smart entry-level sampler into the Donovan milieu."