I actually have three different soul covers of Donovan's "Season of the Witch." It's just one of those Donovan songs favored for the soul treatment. Far and away, my favorite is the 1969 version by Lou Rawls and producer David Axelrod.
I'm sucker for psychedelic soul and when executed with this much perfection I simply cannot resist. I love that this record is so different from the original and yet still delivers the essence of Donovan's version. Honestly, I hadn't realized just how different they were until I went back to listen to the original for this post. It is perhaps one of the best adaptations from rock to soul of that era, an incredibly hip record with subtle instrumentation used for dramatic effect. Listen to the horns lurking in the shadows for most of song, sort of stalking the vocals. Then there is the groove of the enchanted, jazzy organ that drives the record along. Psychedelic effects are applied gently allowing for the eeriness of the performance to creep up on us. A spell is slowly cast upon the listener until the music possesses your spirit. This very well may be the best record Lou Rawls ever laid on wax.
Now, if only I could just find a soul cover of "Goo Goo Barabajagal"...now that would REALLY be something!