The new compilation of Buffy songs arrived today, 'Soldier Blue: The Best Of The Vanguard Years'. I'm not sure how widely it's available (I ordered mine through Amazon) but it's clearly aimed at the UK market to coincide with the current tour. The headline on the back of the CD is, 'The best of Buffy's Vanguard recordings, including her biggest UK hit, 'Soldier Blue'.' That alone suggests it's targeted at the UK. I'd quibble that this represents the 'best' of Buffy's songs with Vanguard, but it's an interesting selection.
Let's get the negatives out of the way first. The cover is rather unimaginative - the photo of a young Buffy has been used as the 'artist pic' on Last.fm for a few years now - there must be photos of Buffy we haven't seen before that could have been used. The songs don't sound like they're re-mastered, which is a bit of a disappointment, but not surprising really. It's also a bit odd that for someone who wrote most of her own songs, we have four covers on this album of 15 tracks.
But the positives make up for this. Firstly, there are some really powerful songs here, particularly 'Soldier Blue', and it works very well as a cohesive collection. There's a nice eight-page booklet in the jewel case with a new essay by Ken Hunt about Buffy with some extracts from reviews of the albums when they came out and some new tales of Buffy all those years ago. For cataloguers, the songs are listed with authors (when it isn't Buffy), the album the song is taken from (which is useful since there are sometimes different versions of the songs) and the year. The booklet also promotes Buffy's website and the video documentary 'A Multimedia Life' (available with Buffy's album of new songs, 'Running For The Drum'), neither of which it had to refer to since they're nothing to do with Vanguard.
There's nothing new here for a Buffy fan but, as Ken Hunt says in the booklet, this could be treated as a 'beginners guide to Buffy' to whet the appetite and encourage listeners to explore the original albums. I wonder if Vanguard will ever get round to a re-mastered boxset...?