Lost classics shouldn’t necessarily be from 2005. Sixteen years ago The Eighteenth Day of May released their one and only album on CD and it was stunning. In 2020 on the 18th of May it was re-released on vinyl with all sorts of other bits and pieces that if you tracked them all down in other forms may cost a small fortune. It’s still stunning and sounds timeless.
At the time it was classed along with other”wyrd folk” a genre I think Judy Dyble created on her own. I still am not sure what that means, maybe folk that doesn’t require the finger in the ear! I think it’s just a great album.
There is a particular sound to English Folk-Rock from about 1968 to the mid 70’s, slightly hazy production with some raga rock feeling and the often close to nursery rhyme lyrics preferably sung with a super polite english female vocalist. The guitars overlap and create a unique wall of sound while mandolins and dulcimers and violins are all over the place. This was probably created by a lot of sincere young people trying to be original, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, any numbers of Albion iterations and the Pentangle personify this along with a slew of others such as Trees and Tir Na Nog. Eighteenth Day of May have managed to capture the feel without slavishly following the formula and every now and then the band will burst into a jangly byrdsian, California Monkees feel to break things up.
By track two of the Eighteenth Day of May’s one and only album they have covered all the bases. Then over four sides they hit all the stops, wall of sound, gentle pieces, indie pop jangle, they don’t head for the heavy metal corner but if they did it may be early Sabbath that falls out.
Of course all this is very surface and doesn’t actually do justice to how great a record The Eighteenth Day of May is, yes it does reference all that sunny summer of love folkiness, it also conjures up the Velvet Underground and the Cowboy Junkies in the same heady slice of pie.
The problem with all these comparisons is that you think you know what to expect.
They managed to cover Richard Farina’s Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood and managed to match Fairport Convention and Sandy Denny’s version.
I don’t do the song for song thing yet, maybe one day I will. This album though has consistently been the one I reach for if I want to smell the incense and frolic in the daisy’s on a summers or early spring day.
There is also a stunning version of Codine that may rival Mans version.