The Fairy Queen of Eden: Shirley Collins

shirley-collins_eva-vermandel_1200It’s been a while since Shirley Collins sang in public. As a matter of fact, when that last happened Michael Jackson had just released Thriller and E.T. phoned home from the movies. Ronald Reagan was gunned down on the streets, and the Falkland Wars between England and Argentina had just began. Commodore 64 was launched, and tech savvy consumers could actually buy a CD player for the very first time, the technological shift was so distinct, TIME magazine even named the computer ‘Man of the Year.’

Nothing could be further from Shirley Collins’ interest than some tech boom. Her entire musical life is based upon deep knowledge, understanding and love of musical roots and tradition, following the long lines of history more than chasing the latest craze. Her magic story is far too extensive to narrow down over a few paragraphs, but in short she made a career as one of the most significant and cherished voices of 20th century British folk music.

Born in 1935 into a folk music family – her father a milkman and her mother a communist – she left Hastings for London in 1954 to sing at folk clubs and research folk music at the legendary venue Cecil Sharp House. She soon met and fell in love with American folklorist and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, already famous at that time, and by 1960 she had recorded her sparsely arranged first albums, Sweet England and False True Lovers.

In 1959 she embarked on a trip to the Deep South with Lomax, making pioneering field recordings across the region where, among others, they managed to capture James Carter and his chain gang – later of O Brother, Where Art Thou? fame – in a penitentiary, discovered the previously undocumented blues legend Mississippi Fred McDowell and recorded Appalachian singer Texas Gladden.

shirley_collins_folk_rootsReturning back to Britain, Shirley Collins built a steady solo career. Often accompanied with her sister Dolly, a gifted arranger and composer in her own right, Shirley cementing her role in the rapidly blossoming English folk scene. In all she recorded over 20 albums, including the highly-influential Folk Roots, New Routes (1964), a collaboration with avant-garde guitarist Davy Graham, her seminal work Anthems in Eden (1969), done with Dolly, and the eclectic masterpiece No Roses (1971), which spawned the folk group The Albion Band. Existing in the very center of the emerging electric folk rock and acid folk circuit, Collins managed to maintain a sort of noble grace, fusing elements of contemporary folk with archaic, pre-modern roots.

Author Rob Young describes her voice and this duality in, Electric Eden, his thorough book about British folk music:

‘Her voice was uniquely suited to this purpose: not heavily accented, but with enough flattened vowels to indicate her provenance in the south-east. But the main quality was its clarity and neutrality. Sometimes accused of coldness, her voice was in fact an ideal folk voice, sounding as though it was grappling with the words for the very first time, and yet equally as though it was so inured to the pain and suffering so often portrayed in the songs that it had insulated itself from them.’

shirley_collins_anthemsWhile being part of the flowery counterculture scene at the time, she also kept her distance from the psychedelic underground; Shirley Collins’ culture was in many ways steeped in a deeper soil. This incident, taken from Electric Eden, can serve as a sufficient example: Once, while the Collins’ sisters played with Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band, he urged them to expand the session with some drugs: ‘You’ve never seen a tree until you’ve taken LSD,’ he said, prompting Dolly Collins to snappily reply: ‘I know perfectly well what a tree looks like!’

In 1971 Collins married mellow musician Ashley Hutchings (Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span), and the two came to represent a return to a more pure and honest tradition of British folk music. Collins, always concerned about the rural working-class from where the songs first spawned, continued working with her partner in the first half of the 1970s in various constellations, including the acoustic Etchingham Steam Band

And then it got quiet.

Ashley Hutchings left her in 1978, and Collins lost her singing voice due to suffering a form of dysphonia in the aftermath of the turbulent split, leading her to withdraw from performing and recording, and retreat to civil jobs outside of music.

Along with the likes of Colin Meloy (The Decemberists), Angel Olsen and Graham Coxon (Blur), British comedian, writer and musician Stewart Lee is among the many who’s lauded her in the silent years. In his extensive liner notes for Collins’ new album, Lee reminds us on how it was: ‘It’s not possible for any music fan born in the last twenty years to imagine the impossible darkness, and also the thrilling mystery, of the pre-internet age; when legends might yet be sustained by over-the-counter word of mouth; or by tip-offs and tape trades from movers and shakers; and when off-the-radar artists were still gossamer ghosts. You could not Google Shirley Collins. There was no Google. And she was gone. And even post-Google, the essence of Shirley resists reduction to a Wiki page of verifiable detail.’

David Tibet, of the experimental neo-folk band Current 93, has played a particulary crucial role, coaxing her since the early 1990s and patiently persuading Collins to find back to her voice and return to recording.

So now, after decades of silence, the fairy queen of British Folk Music is finally back again. Titled Lodestar, her first album in 38 years is a collection of English, American and Cajun folk songs dating from the 16th Century to the 1950s, tying bonds to her profound love of the English Folk Song and her journeys to the Mississippi Delta.

We had the honorable opportunity to speak with Shirley Collins about the past and the present.

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In 1959 you went to the Southern United States with Alan Lomax on what I understand turned out to be an important and historical musical journey for you. What do you find especially intriguing about the American folk and blues?

I am fascinated by the way the British songs and ballads that were taken over to America by early settlers were gradually changed, especially in the Southern mountains. At the same time you can find songs that remained intact, complete versions.

Also, I love the way that the mountaineers sing – shrill, high and lonesome. In a way it reflects their way of life, tough and rather isolated. As for the blues – how can you help but love them. The voices are wonderful and genuine; what the blues say is full of truth about lives of black people, and the form of the blues is so compelling and beautiful to listen to.

shirley_collins_trueknotYou’re also well known to focus on rural and pastoral material from your home area in southern England. What, in your mind, are the common grounds between British and American folk music, and where did you place yourself in such a context?

As I said, the American tradition springs from the British one – it’s a continuation of it, although over time there are changes. Where did I place myself? When I was in the South in 1959, right in the middle I think. So many of the people I met there were really pleased to meet someone from “the old country,” especially someone who not only loved their music, but could sing English versions of their songs.

In what way, if any, did inspiration from the Deep South transform into your take on English folk music?

It didn’t really.

You’ve said that you ‘believed in English music and believed in its source.’ What is the essence of English music and what sources do you consider the most valuable?

Our most valuable source is the field recordings made in the 1950s and ’60s here, as you can hear the way the songs were sung, as well as many, many variations of the actual song. But of course, the earlier collectors, who worked without the benefit of sound recordings, are immensely important too.

The essence of English music? The gentle melancholy of many of the songs, the beauty of the tunes, the fascination with the words. And here I’m talking about the best of the songs – there are many that aren’t that good, as well!

shirley_collins_adieuWhy did folk music resonate so well with young people then, and what do you think made it relevant to the pre-war generation?

Perhaps it was the independence of the folk music revival; and the fact that it was music they could sing and play themselves – not out of reach.

I’m interested in your 1965 album, the rare and influential Folk Roots, New Routes, that you made together with Davy Graham. In the liner notes your then husband Austin John Marshall draws comparisons to blues, jazz, Appalachian and Eastern music. Can you please shed some light on how you approached this recording and how you consider this album today?

I approached it with an open mind! I don’t like jazz … but that’s where Austin John first heard Davy play, in a jazz club, and he was playing an exotic mix of those you mention above. He invited Davy out to our house. Davy played me an Irish song “She Moves Through the Fair” with an accompaniment that drew on Irish, North African and Indian music – and it worked! I loved it! And I could tell straightaway that it would certainly work with Appalachian songs without losing their identity – and the English songs, too.

Davy was a very sensitive musician, as well as being a genius on guitar. So I was thrilled to be able to work with him on a few live performances and to record Folk Roots, New Routes. I think it’s a fine album; it’s got integrity and still holds up today.

1965 seems like a watershed year, when you, Donovan, John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, Jackson C. Frank and others released albums, all rooted in folk traditions but also in many ways pointing forward. In what way do you consider this a transitional time of British folk?

I don’t agree that they were rooted in folk traditions – or not my idea of folk music anyway. Mine is the music that came from the rural working classes, and I don’t think that any of those people really delved deeply into that.

shirley_collins_norosesYou later worked with Joe Boyd and folks from the Incredible String Band, released albums on the iconoclastic Harvest label and gave us the eclectic album No Roses in 1971. Can you please try and describe this period of time in terms on how you found your role ‘between’ traditional culture and the psychedelic expansion at the time?

Although I worked a little with the Incredible String Band, whose early albums I really liked, I was never part of the psychedelic scene. That never suited me at all. No Roses was an album of really fine English traditional songs – and with brilliant musicians. So that even while it was a folk-rock album, the songs didn’t change, nor did my singing of them.

How did you befriend David Tibet and what has he meant for you in terms of you now returning as a recording artist?

David Tibet found me – and befriended me in the first place. He liked my old albums, and hoped to encourage me to sing again. He released a CD, A Fountain of Snow, and I sang a couple of songs on his albums. So in his way, he started me off again, although it would 20 years or so later that I could sing in public – and that was at Tibet’s persuading. And that was the start of what would lead on to my recording Lodestar, so I have a lot to thank him for. He and I have become close friends, and he’s still a great supporter of my work.

shirley_collins_lodestarCan you please guide us briefly through Lodestar and let us know what we can expect from you this time? As I understand there’s some sort of circle here, since it also includes tracks tracing back to 1959 and your Delta travels.

Yes, there are two ballads that were recorded on the 1959 collecting trip with Alan Lomax, one from Virginia sung by Horton Barker ‘The Rich Irish Lady,” and another, much more light-hearted, “Pretty Polly,” that I personally recorded from an Arkansas singer, Ollie Gilbert.

Otherwise, the songs are all English, with the exception of a Cajun song that Ian Kearey – fine musician, long-time friend and the musical director of Lodestar – played to me. I fell in love with it immediately: “Sur le Bord de l’Eau” recorded in 1927 by Blind Uncle Gaspard, on Vocalion. So I sing it in my Sussex French!

It’s quite a hard-hitting album, nothing cozy about it, and we had a variety of instruments: hurdy-gurdy, 12-string resonator, concertina, fiddle, banjo, various stringed instruments including cello and viola, a harmonium, percussion, an organ pipe, English half long pipes, a Morris dancer and birdsong from the bank at the back of my garden!

I think you could call it a grown-up album…

* * *

The documentary The Ballad of Shirley Collins is currently in production. Collins was given the ‘Good Tradition’ award at BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and elected President of the English Folk Dance & song Society (both in 2008) and awarded an honorary doctorate in Music from Sussex University earlier this year. She released her first memoir America Over the Water in 2004 and is currently working on her second book. She is an MBE – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Lodestar dropped November 4, 2016 on Domino Recordings.

Bjørn Hammershaug
First published October 14, 2016 on read.tidal.com

Vashti Bunyan: Way to Skye

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Just another diamond day
Just a blade of grass
Just another bale of hay
And the horses pass.
– Vashti Bunyan

You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.
You have to go to them sometimes.
– Winnie The Pooh

***

The story of Vashti Bunyan is an unusual one.

She entered swinging London as a young, blue-eyed singer-songwriter in the late ’60s, briefly glimpsing into a world of stardom, until she went out on the road for a couple of years in search for paradise – and released one sole album that existed totally off the radar for 30 odd years.

Bunyan didn’t know anything about the growing cult around her music until she googled herself one day in the early 2000s, inspiring her to step back into to the spotlight with another set of gorgeous songs in 2005. Now, almost ten years later, she is back with her third album in 35 years. It is as if times stands still around Vashti Bunyan and her tender, graceful music.

I talked with this unique artist about her unique career, walking with her from the early days all the way until today and her new album.

Beginnings
– My father was a great lover of recorded classical music, which was always playing in our home, says Vashti when being asked about her family background.

– I was the youngest of three – and was referred to as ‘the arty one‘ – because unlike my sister I did badly at school, drew and painted a lot and sang to myself each night before sleeping. My older brother especially was very supportive of my wanting to write songs and sing – and he recorded my songs himself in the mid-sixties. He thought no one else could ever capture my sound the way he could.

freewheelin_bob_dylanBunyan, born in 1945, grew up in London, and studying at Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art in Oxford where she eventually got kicked out for failing to attend classes, having been ‘wasting’ her time writing songs and playing the guitar. In the summer of ’63, 18 years old Vashti visited her sister in New York, where she discovered the sheer brilliance of Bob Dylan and his then brand new Freewheelin’ album. In it she found a sound that would change her life forever:

– Having had a somewhat sheltered post-war upbringing but knowing that there was a whole world out there that I ached to find out about – the songs on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan opened my eyes to a world so different to mine, one that I wanted to be part of and understand. It sowed the seeds for my romantic notion of becoming a wandering musician.

Bunyan returned to London, determined to become a pop singer. Andrew Loog Oldham, manager for the Rolling Stones, took notice of her and handed her the Jagger/Richards-penned song “Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind.” The release went unnoticed by the larger public, and Bunyan herself returned to her original, quieter ideals of making music. She did a couple more recordings, but gradually lost her dream of becoming a pop star, pursuing divergent path instead – this time by horse and buggy.

– It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to – I didn’t succeed in bringing quiet acoustic songs into the mainstream. When I met art student Robert Lewis, our likeminded thoughts and dreams led to a plan to escape the city and head for what we hoped would be a more meaningful life. We intended to make our actual days the picture, the painting, the song, says Vashti on what would become an almost two year long journey across Britain, on their way to Skye.

donovan_mellowIn Search of Eden
Around that time Donovan, wealthy from the success of his hit songs like “Sunshine Superman” and “Catch The Wind,” had bought three remote Scottish islands in the Inner Hebrides, near the Isle of Skye, in order to build up an artistic commune. The couple finally reached their destination, only to find that Donovan had lone ago fled his visionary project.

– I learned more on that journey than I could have any other way. I refer to it every day even now in my thinking – in some way or other. The differences in people and the humanity we found as well as the hostility we realized that traveling people experience. Also the fact that we were able to live on so little – and that we came to recognize our responsibility for other creatures. So much so that they became just as important to us as our human companions.

The late 1960s was a period when many artists fled the cities, returning ‘back to nature’ in search of of inner peace and the discovery of a more truthful life. The concept of a more pure, down-to-earth music form went hand-in-hand with this idealism.

– Looking back I can only speak for myself as I was not involved with any other musicians at the time. For me the promise of remote places that had been abandoned and were waiting to be lived in by anyone willing to go without electricity or mains water – that was the appeal. Having not been able to make a living from music my only other choice seemed to be a ‘day-job’ – but I was too restless for that. And so perhaps living in places that others undervalued became a movement of its own – for artists especially.

Do you feel now, or did you feel then, that something has been lost in the interplay between modern life and something basic in us as humans?

– No I don’t feel it has been lost. It has been added to by other layers of possibilities and exchange of ideas and information. We are still human and still have the same choices between greed and generosity.

In his book Electric Eden, author Rob Young writes of Bunyan’s music “reveals many of the contradictory impulses that shape the British artistic imagination: craving the freedom and peace of a countryside that is already shaped and manicured.”

How do you see yourself and your music fit into such a description?

– On that journey I learned the realities of the ‘country living’ that I – as an urban child – had so romanticised. I came to understand that the little sheepies were going to be slaughtered, that the low moaning of the cows at night was because their calves had been taken from them, that the fields were being poisoned and that the fish were dying. I still wrote songs as if this were not happening – in order to comfort myself more than anything. The shepherd and shepherdess in “Rose Hip November” were more a picture from an old blue-and-white china plate than from real people.

The folk scene in those transitional days were torn between a new, progressive direction and a more traditional, purist form. Did you associate with either of those mentalities in those days, or were you more of an outsider?

– I was never a part of the folk scene and so now when I am referred to as a folksinger I bristle and complain bitterly ’till everyone around me sighs and looks at the ceiling.

Bunyan smiles, and continues,

– Before I left London with a horse, a dog and a boyfriend I had been recording with Andrew Loog Oldham and making my songs into what I’d hoped would enter the pop charts of the day. It didn’t happen and I left in a sulk – and vowed never to set foot in a recording studio again. Joe Boyd changed all that.

Diamond Days
She encountered Joe Boyd through a friend while on the road.

vashti_diamond_dayBoyd was a keystone figure in British music at the time, especially in the bourgeoning folk scene. He worked with Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band and countless others, including the debut album of Vashti Bunyan, a collection of her traveling songs, released as Just Another Diamond Day in 1970.

– Joe was unusual as a producer in that he really cared about the musicians he worked with. Coming from the States I think he had quite a rosy view of traditional British folk music, but recognized that there were young people making more of it than had been made before – unique musicians like Fairport Convention, and The Incredible String Band. That was difficult for me as it wasn’t really what I was up to – I was not traditional in any way.

Have you talked to Boyd about this later?

– Yes, when I saw Joe recently he said he understood now that he had been wrong to bring in folk musicians for Just Another Diamond Day and that it is his fault that I am still referred to as a folk singer. But in his defense, he said, he did visit me when I was living a life that was more ‘folky’ than any folk singer he knew, in that I was living in a field with a horse and a dog. And a boyfriend.

And through Joe Boyd, you also met Nick Drake?

– That’s true. Joe wanted me to meet up with Nick Drake at his house and try to write something together. I’d had a baby by then who cried every time I picked up my guitar. Nick’s shoulders went higher and higher as he sat at an old upright piano – and we exchanged not a word. I had not heard Nick’s songs at that time – I had no record-player – and I am sure he hadn’t heard mine – and we were both too shy and individual to be able to work together. I have never been able to work well with others on writing ever since.

Just Another Diamond Day received good reviews, but went largely unnoticed to the public. And Vashti Bunyan went away, again. This time for good, spending the next decades peacefully and privately, raising her children and living a quiet life.

Rebirth
30 years down the road she suddenly discovered that her album had turned into a cult item among connoisseurs and collectors, and her style being cherished among a new generation of artists.

Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and other praised Just Another Diamond Day as a forgotten masterpiece. Once again she came back from the shadows, now heralded as a consequential figure from the ’60s.

What was it like to learn your music was so vital in inspiring a new generation of artists?

– Unreal and strange after so many years in a musical wilderness of my own choosing. My overwhelming thought was ‘if only they had been around back then’.. they would have understood what I was trying to do.

You’ve been called the ‘Godmother of Freak Folk’ for your influence. How do you feel about this title?

– Oh dear. A fairy dress and wings – I think not! And I don’t think I was such an influence – I think those young musicians made a place for me – for which I adore them.

vashti_lookafteringOut of that revival, you returned to the music world to release a new record, Lookaftering, with some help from the musicians you inspired, such as Banhart and Newsom.

What was that experience like?

– As if in a dream – mostly going over my head. I had written the songs, made the demos and had arranged a lot of the instrumentation – but Max Richter who produced the album knew what to do where I really did not. However he taught me as we went along, included me in decision making every step of the way and I am forever grateful to him, for Lookaftering could not have been made without him. Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Adem, Adam Pierce and Robert Kirby all contributed so good-heartedly and looked after me so well.

Your music has been covered by many artists – Devendra, Fever Ray, Feist and Ben Gibbard, to name a few. Do you have any favourite reinterpretation of your songs?

– I love Fever Ray’s version of “Here Before.” It made me fall off my chair when I first heard it. In a quite different way I also like Norwegian singer Moddi’s version of “Train Song,” and Beautify Junkyards’ “Rose Hip November.”

vashti_heartleapHeartleap
Heartleap is your third album, and your first in nine years. What can you tell us about the album and the process that went into making it?

– Where I had been so sheltered by all the people who helped me make Lookaftering – this time I wanted to take what I had learned and try to understand the process for myself. I had always been fascinated by recorded music but not until I got my hands on music software in 2000 did I get the chance to get the music in my head out into the real world. I don’t read or write music and so it has been a great gift.

You’ve said this is your last album?

– I just feel that it is unlikely that I will make another collection of songs in album form – partly because I am so slow – but also because I am not sure there will be such a format as ‘album’ in however long it would take me to come up with ten more songs. That does not mean I would turn my back on music again – I find the whole process of recording too fascinating now.

– I will, I’m sure, keep making music. No more turning backs.

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Bjørn Hammershaug
Opprinnelig publisert på read.tidal.com 5/11 2014.

Vashti Bunyan: Just Another Diamond Day (Spinney, 1970)

Moving slowly through the springtime air
Bak Vashti Bunyan skjuler det seg en av disse underlige fortellingene som av og til inntreffer i musikkhistoriens krøniker. Bunyan ble tuppet ut av kunstskolen i 1964 da hun heller ville synge og spille enn å lese, og oppdaget av Andrew Loog Oldham året etter da han hørte hennes fagre stemme på en folk-klubb i London. Det ble innledningen til en fem år lang musikalsk vandring som kulminerte med hennes eneste plate i 1970. I løpet av disse fem årene tiltrakk hun seg svært lite oppmerksomhet fra media og publikum, men hun kretset i det britiske folkmiljøet, rundt sentrale personer som Donovan og produsenten Joe Boyd. Donovan var målet for en ferd til Hebridene, han lånte til og med Vashti og kjæresten Robert Lewis penger for å komme seg ut til hans nyopprettede hippie-samfunn på Isle Of Skye. Det ble en ferd med hest og kjerre(…) som skulle vare i nesten to år, men som til gjengjeld danner rammen for alle disse sangene. Boyd ble til sin store glede overlevert materialet da Bunyan kom tilbake til London. Han inviterte størrelser fra Fairport Convention og The Incredible String Band med på innspillingen til det som skulle bli Just Another Diamond Day. Arrangør på tre av låtene var Robert Kirby, og dette er begge navn som leder tankene over til en annen sober britisk visesanger fra samme periode, nemlig Nick Drake. Det er et visst slektskap mellom de to, men Bunyans historie har en hyggeligere utgang. Hun fikk en sønn (Leif) i 1970, pakket så kofferten igjen og dro til Irland for å vie seg for familielivet. Hennes musikalske karriere var over. Uten at noen brydde seg noe særlig om det.

Så en dag i 1997 foretok Vashti Bunyan et nettsøk på seg selv, og oppdaget at både hun og Just Another Diamond Day faktisk hadde blitt ganske så ettertraktet i årenes løp. Hun eide ikke engang platen selv, men skjønte at en rekke pirat-aktører tjente godt på den. Hun bestemte seg derfor for å gjøre den tilgjengelig igjen på skikkelig vis. Etter den tid har Bunyan fått ytterligere blest rundt sine sanger, eksempelvis gjennom Devendra Banhart. De synger en låt sammen på hans andre CD (Rejoicing In The Hand, 2004), mens skotske Appendix Out gjorde hennes “Window Over The Bay” på sin fine cover-EP A Warm And Yeasty Corner (2002). Det er ikke så underlig at Vashti Bunyan har fått en langsomt voksende fanskare. Slike ’mytiske’ artister har en tendens til det. Men det er nok i første rekke musikken som har sørget for hennes status, den eventyraktige folkstilen, hippieromantikken og naturfilosofien går fint hjem hos en ny generasjon vandrere, romantikere og folk-hipsters.

Just Another Diamond Day er tidløs i sin eleganse, men kledd i britiske gevanter og med et umiskjennelig preg av 60-tallets romantiske blomsterdufter og ’tilbake til naturen’-fordragelighet. Låtene som ble til på veien er stort sett helt neddempet og har en sårbarhet som er nærmest smertelig vakker, en skjørhet som er merkverdig sterk. Bunyan synger med lav, sky stemme ikke helt fjernt fra Joni Mitchell (om enn mer hviskende) eller Sandy Denny. Tematisk dreies det rundt hverdagens små hendelser og naturens fenomener, og da gjerne skjønnheten i disse. Regnbueelver, pittoreske gårder, solnedganger og den slags. Det hele oppsummeres best i åpningssporet ”Diamond Day”, så rørende enkel og samtidig dekkende for hva Bunyan stod for, at den gjengis her i sin helhet:

Just another diamond day
Just a blade of grass
Just another bale of hay
And the horses pass

Just another field to plough
Just a grain of wheat
Just a sack of seed to sow
And the children eat

Just another life to live
Just a word to say
Just another love to give
And a diamond day

I tråd med tekstene er musikken pastoral; akustisk gitar, fløyte, fele og mandolin skaper et bilde som passer til det unge paret som sitter i kjerra si og traver gjennom den engelske landsbygda på vei mot paradis. Lettere naive barneregler (”Lily Pond”, ”Come Wind Come Rain”) bidrar mest til å understreke det livsglade og optimistiske aspektet. I tillegg til de opprinnelige 14 låtene, inneholder denne utgaven fire ekstraspor. Det dreier seg om tre eldre opptak (66-67) som viser en artist med mer melankolsk søkende penn, samt en alternativ versjon av ”Iris’s Song”.

Det er litt trist å tenke på hva Vashti Bunyan kunne gjort det til som artist hvis hun hadde vokst seg forbi denne fasen av ungdommelig frisinn. Men det er også et slags beroligende faktum at dette var hennes bidrag, det var dette hun hadde å dele med omverdenen. Just Another Diamond Day hører hjemme blant de sentrale britiske folkplatene, om enn ikke like grunnleggende, sammen med kanoner som Liege & Liefe, Bryter Layter eller The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.

Og hvordan gikk det med ferden mot paradis? Vel, innen de hadde rukket å komme ut til Donovans Isle of Skye fant de ut at både han og hans disipler hadde gitt opp hele prosjektet og flyttet hjem igjen. Men Just Another Diamond Day er uansett et vitnesbyrd om at drømmen var levende på denne tiden, fri for ironi og full av livsmot står den som et minne over en tid som plutselig virker veldig fjern.

PS: Etter at denne omtalen opprinnelig var skrevet, har Vashti Buynan gjenopptatt karrieren, turnert og utgitt nydelige Lookaftering (Fat Cat, 2005).
Bjørn Hammershaug