Thirty-five years — that’s how long it took for singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan to be convinced there was an audience ready for a followup to her long-lost 1970 classic, the Joe Boyd-produced “Just Another Diamond Day.” Among this swelling fan base was the likes of latter-day hip folkies such as Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom, both of whom guested on her comeback album, 2005′s “Lookaftering.” With one of the most unlikely of pop resurrections in place, who can blame Bunyan’s label for now trawling through the vaults and cashing in with this two-CD set of her earliest recordings?
Subtitled “Singles and Demos 1964-1967,” it collects Bunyan’s initial 45s, first when The Rolling Stones’ impresario Andrew Loog Oldham plucked her as Decca Records’ next Marianne Faithfull, then when she signed to Columbia. Also here are acetate demos and crackly home recordings found in her brother’s attic years after they were recorded.
The Faithfull comparisons are apt. Then 20 and a fan of mainstream fare such as The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Rick Nelson — Bunyan always rejected the “folk singer” tag she earned for herself with the wistful, acoustic “Just Another Diamond Day” — these songs pitch a stately female English voice couched in baroque, orchestral arrangements. As with Faithfull’s debut single, Oldham roped in Jagger-Richards to write Bunyan’s first 45 on the lushly produced title track. Like all the singles here, it flopped on release. Better still is the twee-but-very-lovely “Coldest Night of the Year,” which, with its girl-boy vocal interplay, will have Belle and Sebastian fans wetting their beds with excitement.