Buffy Sainte-Marie

Up Where We Belong

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Buffy Sainte-Marie retired from record-making between 1976 and 1992, though she kept her hand in as a songwriter, notably co-writing the Oscar-winning number one 1982 hit "Up Where We Belong." She returned to recording with 1992's Coincidence and Likely Stories, and four years later she presented an album called Up Where We Belong, consisting of "songs that people most often ask to hear at my concerts," most of them re-recordings of songs from her Vanguard Records albums of the 1960s and ‘70s. There is a simple arrangement of "Up Where We Belong" (the first time its songwriter had recorded it) with an acoustic guitar and what is probably a synthesizer aping strings, birds, and other gentle sounds. "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee," a strident song about injustices to Native Americans in the manner of her early material, and folksinger Cliff Eberhardt's gentle "Goodnight" are repeated (in the same recordings) from Coincidence and Likely Stories. Sainte-Marie re-creates some of her other big songwriting successes, such as "Until It's Time for You to Go" (covered, she notes gratefully, by Barbra Streisand, the Boston Pops, and many others) and "Universal Soldier" (a hit for Donovan). "Now That the Buffalo's Gone" was perhaps the most striking of those early political songs for Native Americans, and it sadly remained relevant in 1996. Some of the other songs may be less familiar to those who are not ardent Sainte-Marie fans. Some of those fans may have decried her decision to remake their old favorites. But this album brought together the highlights of the career of an important songwriter who scored hits in three decades, material otherwise unavailable on one disc.

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