Yeah, I know, I know...Anne Murray - who has sold somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million albums - is not exactly one of the “lesser-known heroes of Canadian musical history.” However. There was a time, before she recorded Gene MacLellan’s “Snowbird” and became the first Canadian woman to earn a gold record in the U.S., that Anne Murray was just a phys ed teacher in Summerside, Prince Edward Island who’d sung in the chorus on the CBC’s “Singalong Jubilee”. Then she recorded this album for Arc Records in 1968, hopped over to Capitol the following year and cut "Snowbird," and the rest, as they say, is history. But this album, Murray's first, stands as intriguing proof that, given the right material and producers, she might have gone on to something more interesting than a career as the living embodiment of MOR pop.
Which is not to say that Murray sounds like Janis Joplin here. Her singing is as always, quite placid, and she doesn't have a whole lot of range, but What About Me (produced by Brian Ahern and executive produced by Bill Gilliland for Arc at Bay Studios in Toronto) surrounds her with a first-rate band and makes a number of interesting production choices. "What About Me," penned by Scott McKenzie (thanks to Rick for the correction), is a pretty folk rock tune enlivened by a Garth Hudson-esque organ solo on the fade-out (I am, for the record, legally required to compare any organ playing on a Canadian album to Garth Hudson). "It's All Over" is a melancholic ballad that breaks into a surprisingly funky trot about halfway through. "David's Song," written by David Wiffen, is my favourite song on the album, a mildly psychedelic number with swirling organ work and some splashes of guitar recorded backwards. And the slow-building "Buffalo In The Park," credited to Ahern and (Ronnie?) Hawkins, is another psych-tinged number, with backmasked drums and guitar recorded to sound like a harpsichord.
It’s All Over
Buffalo In The Park