Having Mickie Most as producer could be a double-edged sword. On The Hurdy Gurdy Man, his over-ambitious nature and scattershot production sense occasionally sabotaged Donovan's songs rather than emphasizing their strengths. (The credits shamelessly list "Produced by Mickie Most" and "A Mickie Most Production," right next to each other.) As with the last few LPs, the program began with the hit title track (one of Donovan's best singles), a dim, dark song balancing psychedelia with the heavier, earthier rock championed during 1968 by Dylan and the Beatles. Though the next two tracks -- an eerie, trance-like "Peregrine" and the endearing acoustic number "The Entertaining of a Shy Girl" -- are excellent performances, any sense of mood is soon shattered by a hopelessly overblown music-hall showtune, "As I Recall It." This terrible problem of pacing and song placement continually afflicts The Hurdy Gurdy Man, rendering ineffective many solid songs. As for the writing, Donovan certainly wasn't expanding his songbase; as usual, the album overflowed with playful songs on girls ("West Indian Lady," "Jennifer Juniper") and pastoral themes ("The River Song," "A Sunny Day," "The Sun Is a Very Magic Fellow"). Most of these featured more inventive, sympathetic accompaniment, combined with Donovan's usual spot-on delivery. Despite the great songs and (usually) solid performances, though, The Hurdy Gurdy Man is a very difficult listen. AMG.