"The Coldest Night Of The Year" was written by the same songwriting team that gave us "On Broadway" and "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (who also wrote "Christmas Vacation" for the Chevy Chase film of the same name). The two met at Don Kirshner's song writing mill, Aldon Music in the famous Brill Building, and married in 1961. Whatever else anyone tells you, the song was first recorded by brother and sister duo Nino Tempo & April Stevens. But Nino and April recorded "The Coldest Night Of The Year" when they were finishing up their contract with Atco, anxious to move on, and Atco was just as happy to see them go. There was no promotion for the 1965 single and it failed to chart.
Even if Nino and April recorded it first, there is no question that the definitive version of "The Coldest Night Of The Year" was recorded in 1966 by British duo Twice As Much with the help of a then unknown folk singer Vashti Bunyan.
Over time, though, and unbeknownst to Vashti, "Just Another Diamond Day" grew into a cult classic--an album that commanded as much as $2000 on eBay. By the time the album was re-released on CD in 2000, there was a full-blown Vashti renaissance underway. Vashti returned to music and finally cut her sophomore album, "Lookaftering", in 2005. 2007 saw the CD release of all of Vashti's mid 60s recordings and demos, including "The Coldest Night Of The Year".
"The Coldest Night Of The Year" was essentially a reworking of the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside", except that the male in the song is begging to stay rather than trying to trick the female into staying. I'm not the first to remark that "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is a little bit creepy and misogynist. Mann and Weil's version of the concept removes that icky aspect and, suddenly, it's truly cute and cuddle worthy. Since there weren't a lot of seasonal songs being written in that very musically distinctive period, Mann and Weil's trademark 60s Pop/R&B sound is also a plus. And what ultimately sets the Vashti Bunyan version apart from the rest is the rawness of it; it has what almost seems, in retrospect, an Indie Lo-Fi vibe. Very cool! Vashti also infuses the song with an innocence and sincerity that is unmatched before or since.