Sainte-Marie, Buffy


Band members                         Related acts

- Buffy Sainte-Marie - vocals, bow-harp, guitar

 

  backing musicians (1972)

- David Briggs -- keyboards

- Kenny Buttrey -- drums, percussion

- Oma Drake -- backing vocals

- Patricia Holloway -- backing vocals

- Rehtta Hughes -- backing vocals

- Gloria Jones -- backing vocals

- Charles McCoy - guitar

- Norbert Putnam -- bass

- Billy Sanford -- guitar

 

 

- none known

 

 

 


 

Genre: folk-rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  It's My Way!

Company: Vanguard

Catalog: VRS-9142

Year: 1964

Country/State: Saskatchewan, Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: minor edge and corner wear; mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5050

Price: $9.00

 

Having bought it at a yard sale, this album sat in my 'to-listen-to' pile for a couple of years.  Anyhow, one morning I was watching a Sesame Street episode with my three year old.  For some reason I noticed that Buffy Sainte-Marie was on the show.  (I guess she was a semi-regular ay one point in time).  Well that exposure was enough to get my curiosity up so I pulled out 1964's "It's My Way".

 

Wow !!!  Let me start by saying this album isn't going to be for everyone.  Sainte-Marie's voice (one of he strangest vibratos I've ever heard), was certainly an acquired taste.  If that didn't turn you off then there's a good chance her political, social and personnel agendas would strike a chord of controversy.   For a 23 year old Sainte-Marie sure managed to pack a ton of outrage into 40 minutes.  The fact she wrote all 13 tracks at such a tender age is even more impressive.  As one of the few native Americans recording in the mid-1960s (okay she was actually born a Cree in Saskatchewan, Canada but adopted and raised by a white family), there was some justification to her broad stroke condemnation of the genocidal actions native Indians suffered ('Now That The Buffalo's Gone').  'Course that was just her opening shot.  The rest of the first side saw Sainte-Marie taking on Christianity ('Ananias'), exposing tens of thousands of unsuspecting folks to their first brush with Hindi ('Mayoo Sto Hoon' - most folks just assumed it was Cree, or some other native American dialect), turning in one of the first and most impressive anti-drug tracts ever recorded ('Cod'ine'), and delivering one of the 1960s most effective anti-war songs (Universal Solider').  Side two wasn't quite as strident, but packed plenty of controversy, including family breakdowns ('Babe In Arms'), 'The Incest Song' (wonder how many times that got played on top-40 radio ...  It's funny that until I heard this album I really didn't grasp the concept of a 'difficult' album.  This one's tough to get through, but imminently worthwhile.

 

"It's My Way" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Now That The Buffalo's Gone   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 

2.) The Old Man's Lament   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 

3.) Ananias   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 

4.) Mayoo Sto Hoon   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 

5.) Cod'ine   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 

6.) Cripple Creek   (traditional - Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 

7.) The Universal Soldier   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 


(side 2)
1.) 
Babe In Arms   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) -

2.) He Lived Alone In Town   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) -

3.) You're Gonna Need Somebody On Your Bond   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) -

4.) The Incest Song   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) -

5.) Eyes Of Amber   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) -

6.) It's My Way   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) -

 

 

 


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  IMoonshot

Company: Vanguard

Catalog: VRS-79312

Year: 1972

Country/State: Saskatchewan, Canada

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6229

Price: $10.00

 

It was kind of interesting to hear this Buffy Sainte-Marie album after starting off with her 1964 debut.  Eight years and six studio sets apparently made for some massive personal and musical changes in her life.   Co-produced by Sainte-Marie and Norbert Putnam, 1972's "Moonshot" found her pulling a page out of the Neil Young songbook, recording the album in Nashville with many of the same musicians Young had used on "Harvest".  While most facts recording in Nashville tend to get swept into a country groove (think Dylan), that wasn't the case for Sainte-Marie.  Yeah, there were some occasional country influences including a pair of Mickey Newbury covers), but musically the most of the album offered up an interesting mix of pop commerciality ('I Wanna Hold Your Hand Forever' and 'Lay It Down') and folksier stuff that underscored Sainte-Marie's longstanding activist agenda ('He's An Indian Cowboy In the Rodeo' and 'Native North American Child').  To my ears her voice remained an interesting instrument - quite powerful, but with a weird vibrato/warble that some folks find irritating, if not outright excrutiating.  All I can advise is that you give it a chance; the edge tends to wear off after a couple of spins.   

 

- The blazing opener 'Not the Lovin' Kind' has always reminded me a bit of a pissed off "Broken English"-era Marianne Faithful.  Sainte-Marie's vocals literally seethed with anger and frustration on this one. You got the clear feeling that she wasn't someone you wanted to tick off and stood as one of those song's that's extremely scary to any guy who has recently done a woman wrong ...  Fantastic performance and one of the album highlights - nothing else on the album even came close.   rating: ***** stars

- Opening up with an almost bubble-gum tinged arrangement,  'You Know How To Turn On Those Lights' could have easily been mistaken for a Melanie effort.  Every time I hear Sainte-Marie hitting those stratospheric high notes I makes me smile.  Shame it was one of the album' shortest performances.    rating: **** stars

- Complete with a beautiful Baroque horn arrangement, the pretty ballad 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand Forever' was even more top 40-ish.  Yeah, the lyrics haven't aged well ("I'm painting lions on your trousers ..."  did folks really do that in the '70s ?) and longtime fans were probably left scratching their heads on this one ...   By the way, if you don't like her vibrato this is probably one to stay away from.    rating: *** stars

- Sainte-Marie's long-standing advocacy for American Indian rights was seldom as sweet as on the bouncy, country-tinged 'He's An Indian Cowboy In the Rodeo'.  Ah, life's first heartbreak ...   rating: *** stars

-  The first cover tune, 'Lay It Down' was accompanied by a massive Phil Spector-styled arrangement.  Perhaps side one's most readily commercial track, most singers probably would have been swept away by the arrangement, but Sainte-Marie managed to hold her own.  Quite a pretty song with a great hook and some thought provoking lyrics.    rating: *** stars

- Another pretty country-tinged number with a strange lyric (which I've never fully understood), "Moonshot" found Sainte-Marie at her most poetic.  Personally it didn't do all that much for me, though fans gush over this tune.   Another one where the vibrato when into overdrive ...   rating: *** stars

- If you didn't think Sainte-Marie could rock out I suggest checking out 'Native North American Child'.  If for no other reason, the song was impressive just to hear her machine-gun delivery of all those native American tribe names ...  The song also contained the album's best Billy Sanford guitar solo.   rating: **** stars

- Given my expectations were non-existent, Sainte-Marie's cover of Arthur Crudup's 'My Baby Left Me' was quite good.  Probably the best female cover of the tune's I've every heard.   rating: *** stars

- One of two Mickey Newbury covers, 'Sweet Memories' was a bit too country for my tastes.  Another one that sounded a bit like a Melanie performance.   rating: ** stars

- Probably the weirdest performance, 'Jeremiah' had this strange, but cool funky edge to it ...  I've heard it dozens of times and still can't get my head around it.     rating: *** stars

- The second Mickey Newbury cover, 'Mister Can't You See' had actually been released as a single before the album came out.  Not bad

 

As mentioned, the album spun off a series of three singles:

 

- 1971's 'Mister Can't You See' b/w 'Moonshot' (Vanguard catalog number VRS 35151)

- 1972's 'He's An Indian Cowboy In the Rodeo' b/w 'Not the Lovin' Kind' (Vanguard catalog number VRS 35156)

- 1973's 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand forever' b/w 'Jeremiah'  (Vanguard catalog number VRS 35172)

 

I wouldn't want to hear this one everyday, but got to tall you that 'Not the Lovin' Kind' might be worth the price of admission on its own.

 

"Moonshot" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Not the Lovin' Kind   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 3:50

2.) You Know How To Turn On Those Lights   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 2:01

3.) I Wanna Hold Your Hand Forever   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 2:55

4.) He's An Indian Cowboy In the Rodeo   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 2:05

5.) Lay It Down  (Gene Thomasson) - 2:43

6.) Moonshot   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 3:45


(side 2)
1.) Native North American Child   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 2:10

2.) My Baby Left Me   (Arthur Crudup) - 2:57

3.) Sweet Memories   (Mickey Newbury) - 3:15

4.) Jeremiah   (Buffy Sainte-Marie) - 3:04

5.) Mister Can't You See   (Mickey Newbury) - 3:10

 

 

 

 

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