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Wayward Hum - Vashti Bunyan - Lookaftering (2005)

Comeback Album Miniseries - Pt. 4

This album may take the crown for longest span between releases in this miniseries. Bunyan authored "Lookaftering" thirty five years after her debut album "Just Another Diamond Day" was released in 1970. Why the long wait?

In the 1960's, Bunyan appeared to be on the fast track to hitting things big. Her first single was written by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, likely served up to her in a recording studio by Andrew Oldham, a twenty one year old who was acting as band manager for the Rolling Stones in 1965. Jimmy Page played guitar on the track. Things were looking good, but the single didn't perform well on the charts. Maybe the twenty one year old Oldham didn't quite have everything figured out just yet. Who could blame him. I wouldn't want to be responsible for the health and safety of Keith Richards in the mid 60's. Or at any point, for that matter.

But to get back to the point, which is Vashti Bunyan in the mid 60's, we can conclude this musical saga by saying that she didn't enjoy much commercial success in this time, and she was likely not feeling creatively fulfilled. I draw this conclusion on creativity from the stark differences between the more "poppy" demo recordings from her mid 60's catalogue, and the sound of her 1970 album, as well as her subsequent releases. "Coldest Night of the Year" (Singles and Demos, 1964-1967) sounds like it came straight out of Laurel Canyon. Hopefully this isn't actually a song by the Mamas and the Papas, because then I'd feel like an ignoramus. [Photo at right, Bunyan at Picadilly Circus, 1968]

After her debut single flopped, Bunyan was understandably upset. She decided to get out of the standard music scene, effectively closing off this nascent chapter of her musical career. Traveling by horse drawn cart, Bunyan departed London in the summer of 1968, ultimately arriving somewhere in the Isle of Skye.This journey from London to northern Scotland would span about two years and carried her over 600 miles in a pre industrial revolution fashion. Bunyan's experiences of traveling in the late sixties informed her debut album, which Bunyan described as "the dreaming verges of grimy roads". Unfortunately for Bunyan, her 1970 album did not perform well at all in the charts. Shortly after "Just Another Diamond Day" was released in 1970, Vashti completely withdrew from the music scene. [Photo below, presumably Bunyan and her boyfriend Robert Lewis. The dog is named Blue. The horse is named Bess]

Fast forward a couple of decades, and Bunyan is getting some internet love. The term "cult classic" may over used these days, but either way, original copies of Bunyan's 1970 record are selling for thousands of euros around the time of the Y2K crisis. So if we convert from euros to USD, and account for current inflation levels, I'd say that an original pressing of "Just Another Diamond Day" would run you about a quarter of a million dollars in 2023. Bunyan feels compelled to create again, and in 2005 "Lookaftering" is released. Have a listen.

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