Now universally acclaimed as a classic, Vashti Bunyan’s LP Just Another Diamond Day (1971) went unheralded for the better part of three decades until, in a sequence of events that still bewilders its creator, it was rapturously resurrected by an army of enthusiasts who weren’t even born when it was released.
Having abandoned art school in Oxford in favour of dreams of pop stardom, Vashti attracted the attention of Rolling Stones‘ manager Andrew Loog Oldham and released two unsuccessful singles (Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind and Train Song) before spurning the fame game and embarking on a horse-drawn odyssey from London to the Hebrides in the late 60s.
The songs she wrote en-route form a spellbinding chronicle of her experiences, powerfully evoking the successive stages of her journey and her changing moods as the seasons come and go.
From the simple beauty of Rainbow River and the album’s manifesto Diamond Day to the closely-observed Rose Hip November and Swallow Song, the jaunty Jog Along Bess and solemn Iris’s Song For Us, a wonderfully warm and intimate atmosphere is evoked, as if the listener is reading pages from the diary of someone deeply attuned to nature and the truly important things in life.
Despite being produced by Joe Boyd (Fairport Convention/Incredible String Band producer), arranged by Robert Kirby and played by members of Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, the album went unreleased for over a year before limping out well after any chance of success had passed.
Stung by the experience, Vashti forgot all about the album and music in general, bringing up a family and embarking on further journeys instead. Only when she first went online on the internet did she discover that both she and it had become the stuff of legend – and bootleggers.
An official re-issue has sold steadily as word of its quiet joys spreads, and it surprised none more than Vashti herself when The Observer voted Just Another Diamond Day one of the best British albums of all time.
Mint copies of the original vinyl album remain sought-after by collectors and change hands for £600 and more.
In 2005 she returned with a new album, Lookaftering (a reference to her years “lookaftering” her family) which she then toured in the UK and internationally.
In 2007 Fat Cat/DiCristina released Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind, a compilation of Bunyan’s 1960s Decca, Columbia, and Immediate recordings, plus a set of demos dating from 1964 recorded, when she was just 18, by her brother.