“Illuminations” by Buffy Saint-Marie - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1969Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

A strong bounce-back from last years rather awkward “I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again”, which sees Buffy completely reinvent herself once again, this time as a somewhat gothic psychedelic folkie, complete with church organs, spacey keyboards, echoey vocals, and general wah-wah, often out of step with anything else going on at the time, and, almost predictably, failing to find commercial favour. Striking opener “God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot” is a faithful reading of a poem written by her fellow Canadian, Leonard Cohen, lifted from his 1966 novel, “Beautiful Losers”. Buffy creates brand new music for the prose, recorded in one inspirational take: “I'd read Leonard's book and there it was, God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot, I just loved it. I knew what the poem was about, and I knew how the music would feel in my head, but like, flamenco, I didn't know where I was going from line to line. If it sounds stream of consciousness that's because it is.” The mind itself is magic, be your own God, that's what I'd say. Mind you, they'll never elect me for President. The religious imagery is to the fore immediately thereafter with “Mary”, which features the famous Buffy vibrato in full throttle, she's feeling it. Side two's not quite as strong, but “Suffer The Little Children” hits hard, stripped back to her basic folk roots and crying for our creatively-stifled bairns who're conditioned, regimented and ready to conform before they know what's hit them. I wonder if Buffy includes the God-fearing in that? “He’s A Keeper Of The Fire” is another side two standout, a psychedelic rocker in the style of Jefferson Airplane. The album ends as spiritually as it began, with the haunting new-age-like “Poppies”, ending tellingly with another vocal refrain of God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:51] 7.9.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot (Beverly Sainte-Marie, Leonard Cohen) Psychedelia
A2 [01:30] 7.6.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Mary (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Folk
A3 [02:12] 7.0.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Better To Find Out Yourself (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Folk Rock / Americana
A4 [02:05] 6.7.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - The Vampire (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Folk
A5 [05:05] 6.4.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Adam (Richie Havens) Psychedelia
A6 [02:34] 6.2.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - The Dream Tree (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Folk
B1 [02:53] 6.5.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Suffer The Little Children (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Folk
B2 [03:41] 4.7.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - The Angel (Ed Freeman) Songwriter
B3 [01:48] 5.5.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - With You, Honey (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Psychedelia
B4 [02:25] 5.0.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Guess Who I Saw In Paris (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Pop Ballad
B5 [03:21] 6.8.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - He’s A Keeper Of The Fire (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Psychedelia
B6 [03:26] 5.9.png Buffy Sainte-Marie - Poppies (Beverly Sainte-Marie) Psychedelia

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