This was a very welcome surprise. A couple of the songs on this album I first heard on Buffy Sainte-Marie’s very first one, It’s My Way, from 1964. I must have acquired it in 1966/67, one of only a handful of vinyl discs I owned, out of which it was my undoubted favourite. I must have worn it out.
There are thirteen tracks on the actual CD plus another seven downloadable; out of the 20 almost half are new versions of previously recorded songs. The over-arching theme is of politically charged protest and she delivers the songs like a force of nature. She does a stripped-down guitar-plus-vocal version of My Country Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying, just as she did it on the Little Wheel Spin And Spin album in 1966 (over 50 years ago), but with even more passion and rage in her voice. Then there’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee about the “theft of uranium lands from the Pine Ridge reservation”, with an immensely powerful arrangement – my goodness, I look forward to hearing what she’s writing re the current US administration (particularly if anyone refers to her as Pocahontas…).
The new songs are very impressive too: You Got To Run, which she performs with Tanya Tagaq; the thunderous Power In The Blood in which she sings her modification of the Alabama 3 lyrics (with their blessing) over their basic track, and the striking War Racket. The latter, chanted almost in a monotone, reminds me somewhat of the excellent Jim Page in style, furious but articulate.
“…and that’s how it’s done war after war/You old feudal parasites just sacrifice the poor./You’ve got the cutting edge weapons but your scam’s still the same/As it’s been since the Romans: it’s the patriot game./It’s the War Racket.”
I think her singing has improved – there’s more light and shade in it, but the power is completely undiminished. Ah, just thought to check – she’s singing songs about a tone lower than when she recorded them 50 years ago.
She was quoted on the sleeve notes of Many A Mile (1965) as saying “I intend to sing forever, when I’m old and have no figure and no long hair and an ancient face, then I will still be singing”. Carry It On, Buffy!