Soldier Blue: The Best of the Vanguard Years

Buffy Sainte-Marie

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Soldier Blue: The Best of the Vanguard Years Review

by Richie Unterberger

Although this is for the most part a good compilation of material from Buffy Sainte-Marie's most prominent decade as a recording artist (1964-1973), there are a couple problems that keep this from being as definitive an overview of the era as a single-disc anthology should be. First, it's a bit on the short side, with 15 songs and 50 minutes of playing time. Second, it inexplicably omits one of her most famous songs, "Until It's Time for You to Go." Otherwise, much of her very best and most renowned early work is here, including "Universal Soldier," "Now That the Buffalo's Gone," "Cod'ine," "My Country; 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying," and "Little Wheel Spin and Spin." With so much Vanguard material to choose from, any best-of selection beyond the handful of most famous songs is bound to be debatable, but the covers of Neil Young's "Helpless" and Joni Mitchell's "(He Played Real Good) For Free" are idiosyncratic selections (Mitchell's "The Circle Game," also included, carries some historical weight as one of the first prominent Mitchell covers, released in 1967 before Joni herself had issued a version). As a whole, it is a good representation of Sainte-Marie's Vanguard period, with politically conscious folk songs, more elaborately produced early-'70s tracks, country ("I'm Gonna Be a Country Girl Again"), and a couple haunting pieces from her most adventurous album, 1969's Illuminations. The Best of the Vanguard Years is a superior compilation, however, including 25 songs, among them "Until It's Time for You to Go."