on February 8, 2004
This is a recent re-issue of the old double LP "Best of Buffy St. Marie." Added are two live tracks, extending this compilation to 78 minutes. Buffy is heard on 24 songs from her six Vanguard records, done between 1964 and 1969. The two concert tracks, previously unreleased, are from a Carnegie Hall date in 1968. If you were a Buffy fan in the old days, you either own the first CD issue of the "Best" LP's, or you own most of the original albums. If you are not familiar with her, this is a bargain introduction, and a fair one. Not every song on here was written by her, and not every performance is equally pleasing. Overall, however, this is a classic of the Folk Revival and should be in every folk fan's collection. Buffy sometimes hurt her commercial appeal, or her pure-folk credentials, due to her varied musical interests. Not content to stay a traditional singer, she was part of urban singer-songwriter movement; realizing as Dylan did that one could not stay there forever, she made forays into country sounds, and less successfully, into electronic rock. A few songs of each type are on this disc. As a part Native American, adopted by a couple who themselves were part Native American, albeit from a different tribe, Buffy was a natural to join Peter LaFarge (composer of "The Ballad of Ira Hayes") in voicing the plight of American Indians to audiences willing to listen. I became a fan even before her first album was released, having heard her songs "Cod'ine" and "Universal Soldier" performed by others. I saw Buffy in concert in 1966, and was enthalled. I have always felt her greatest songs were "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying" and "Now That The Buffalo's Gone." As an Anglo who undoubtedly benefitted, at least indirectly, from the defeat of Native Americans, the songs are not easy for me to accept, but I love the writing and the power of her performances. "Universal Soldier" is not the most gut-wrenching anti-war song around, but it was a nice hit for Donovan back in the days, and has a nice hook. From her country period, I like "Soulful Shade of Blue" and "I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again." Another favorite is "Sometimes When I Get To Thinkin'". I like that one even better than the famous "Until It's Time For You To Go" which is likely her most lucrative piece of writing.
I can't skip her version of Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game" either, especially since Buffy put that on an LP before anyone knew who Joni was. She also does a fine job on "Many a Mile" by the underappreciated Patrick Sky. However, I don't much like the electronic experiments, like "God is Alive, Magic is Afoot"-- and not all her traditional choices please me, like "Los Pescadores." When one looks at this item, with 26 songs, and can say as I do, "Well, eight of them are not sensational...but 18 are" I think my five-star rating is still justified. Buffy was vital to the folk scene for a full decade, and carried on the Native American presence in that world after Peter LaFarge died in 1965, surpassing his own contributions. For that alone, she'll always have a place in my heart as a five-star artist.
on June 17, 2004
Back in the beginning of the 1970's, I saw a movie called, "The Strawberry Statement". The movie was alright . . . but the soundtrack was phenomenal! One track that reallyy really impressed itself upon me and my musical memory was a Joni Mitchell penned song, sung and performed by Buffy Sainte Marie, "The Circle Game". Of course I ran right out and bought the soundtrack on LP . . . and then on cassette tape . . . (never did get it on cd . . . maybe it isn't on cd). The most played track on the album was Buffy's "The Circle Game".
Of course the movie soundtrack got me hooked on the music and songs of Buffy Sainte Marie.
This "Best of the Vanguard Years" is really that . . . the best. No need to program any tracks in or out on yyour player. Just plop it into your player and let Buffy work her magic on your ears and on your souls.
I remember her, "Until It's Time For You To Go" . . . "Guess Who I Saw In Paris" - "The Universal Soldier" (which was also covered and made popular by Donovan) - and the very edgy "Cod'ine" . . . they are all on here and many more. Some folk, some more electric and experimental, some of the best country sounds you may ever get to hear. No matter what the style, Buffy brings remarkable "presence" and character to the lyric and melody to the soul.
If you are a fan of Buffy . . get this cd! If you have never heard Buffy before, get this cd! You will never regret purchasing this album and will long cherish it. It may never leave your cd player . . . it will have found itself a home in your home . . .and in your heart!
Thanks Buffy Sainte Marie for all the great songs and music yyou have gifted us with over the years . . . and which yyou still write and perform and record. And thanks you for this most impressive collection of your recordings from your "Vanguard years"! :)
on May 9, 2004
Buffy Sainte-Marie was one of the first Native American singers to break out and achieve a popularity beyond just her ethnic background. This CD shows why. The tracks are from albums recorded for Vanguard Records from 1965 to 1968 and show the variety which she has in her repetoire. There is not a bad track on here. From her protest songs, such as The Universal Soldier and My Country 'Tis of thy People You're Dying, through the mystical and utterly satisfying God is Alive, Magic is Affoot, and traditional folksongs such as Groundhog, this CD satisfies. The only thing wrong with it is it doesn't go on into her later recordings, but they weren't with Vanguard.