The Best of Nina Simone [Reissued 1990]

Tracks: 12, total time: 53:29, year: 1969, genre: Vocal Standards / Jazz

Originally Released 1969
CD Edition Released 1985

AMG EXPERT REVIEW: The Best of Nina Simone presents 12 tracks taken from the many recordings Simone did for Phillips in the ’60s. As is often noted, Simone is a dynamic and powerful vocal interpreter who often brought her social consciousness directly into her artistry. Some of the material on this record would have been considered topical for the period when it was first issued. 20 years later (1985) much of it still retains the emotionalpower of its original time. Ignore the liner note hyperbole; this is in fact certainly some of the BEST of Simone. There’s a universality to the emotion and text of this theatrical music – any doubts, just substitute the name “South Africa” for “Mississippi” in “…Goddamn.” Too removed? Try your own locale. ~ Bob Rusch, Cadence

Amazon.com Customer Review
A powerful voice., August 19, 2001
Reviewer: “bluemamma” (San Luis Obispo, CA USA) – See all my reviews

This is the first Nina Simone album I ever bought and it?s one of the most precious records I own. I got my first vinyl copy thirty years ago, after seeing and hearing her on a PBS special. I ended up with this record because it was the only thing they had by her at the record store and, like practically everyone who has ever heard her sing (unfortunately, not nearly enough people), I had to have SOMETHING. The first time you hear her voice she becomes an addiction. Years later I bought a cassette of this album for the car, and after I got a CD player, this was one of the very first CDs I bought. For thirty years, it?s been one of the few albums I never wanted to be without.
The odd thing is, it?s not a flawless record. There are a couple of tracks that I skipalmost every time I listen to it. (Her pitch on “Wild Is The Wind” is so off it?s like fingernails on a blackboard.) But forget the duds. The rest of the album is not just brilliant, it?s beyond compare. Nobody sounds like Nina Simone. Not even close. I couldn?t even describe to someone who has never heard her exactly what style of music she sings. She?s sometimes classified as an r&b singer, which makes no sense at all. Most critics all her a jazz singer, but she has objected strenuously tothat label, and certainly if you?re thinking of Billie Holiday or Sara Vaughan, you?re way off base. In her autobiography, she calls herself a folk singer, but that evokes images of Joan Baez and Judy Collins, and doesn?t really fit her either.

Nina Simone is simply a brilliant musician, a genius who has taken in a wide range of influences ? gospel, jazz, folk, classical, blues, European art song, musical theater, r&b, everything ? and blended them together into unique works of art. The only performer of her breadth I can think of is Ray Charles ? and as much as I admire Ray Charles, I think Nina Simone is even better.

On some songs ? “I Put A Spell On You,” for example, and “Don?t Let Me Be Misunderstood” ? her singing is so deepand moving, so honest, she brings chills even after you?ve heard the songs a thousand times. Others go even beyond that. Listening to her rendition of Brecht?s “Pirate Jenny” is like listening to a soliloquy by a brilliant actress on a bare stage: she evokes an entire world, an entire soul, with the sound of her voice. The anger of “Mississippi Goddamn” still burns decades after she wrote the song. You can?t listen to her without feeling angry yourself. And the 10-minute “Sinnerman” is awe-inspiring, a religious experience, every second of it.

Don?t expect to put this on in the background, because this is music that will force you to sit down and pay attention to it. Nina Simone will not be ignored.

I wouldn?t be without this album.

Amazon.com Customer Review
Brown Eyed Handsome Woman !, July 19, 2000
Reviewer: “iheartcrass” (NC) – See all my reviews
If you describe her style as jazz, then Nina Simone is my favorite Jazz singer. I prefer to call Nina a vocalist (and yes, she’s also my favorite vocalist). Nina Simone’s voice just makes me giddy. It makes my skin goose pimple. I can’t say exactly why. Its not sweet and chipper like Ella, nor is it world weary like Billie, it has its own life. It’s raspy and earthy. Its almost gravely growl gives the songs Nina sings a more truthful sound. You can’t help but believe her when she sings ‘Pirate Jenny’ that if someone made her the king (and I do mean king. Nina sounds like she could beat up most anyone in a street fight…) of the pirates, you are going to be in trouble mister. BIG TROUBLE.
Other standouts on this album include the classic civil rights anthem MISSIPPI GODDAM, the re-done classic by the Animals DONT LET ME BE MISUDERSTOOD, and the two songs that could easily be predecessors to dance music SINNERMAN and SEE LINE WOMAN. My personal favorites on this album are PIRATE JENNY and the self explanitory BREAK DOWN AND LET IT ALL OUT. You can just feel the anger and hurt in her voice as you listen. To me, that’s a very rare and beautiful thing…

Amazon.com Customer Review
So she might sound like a man, April 12, 2000
Reviewer: A music fan
When first I heard Nina Simone, I was sure that it was a man, but my friend hastily correctedme on my grave error, as she was, as I was soon to learn, the greatest Diva. Although not the only one to have made this gender mistake, neither am I alone in having huge respect for her undeniable talent. Like so many musicians, her songs are wellknown, frequently sung and often copied, but she is scarcely remembered. However, when you hear this album, her voice, filled with utter sensuality, hits you with intense emotion. Its huskiness reminds of all the sorrows which well in the back of your throat, yet it is reminiscent of hope. A quality becoming so rare in music is amplified in her songs, and this is the character which she gives to each one. Every piece is individual and charming, even the French track Ne Me Qitte Plus, with itsawful accent is still completely endearing. To use a cliche, these timeless classics are enchanting and seductively romantic. You will undoubtly find yourself singing along, as if she ‘put a spell on you’.

Half.com Album Credits
Hal Mooney, Producer

Album Notes
Personnel includes: Nina Simone (vocals, piano); Rudy Stephenson (flute, guitar); Al Shackman (harmonica, guitar); Lisle Atkinson (bass); Bobby Hamilton (drums).

Recorded in 1964 & 1965.
Includes liner notes by Dick Lochte.

This popular Nina Simone compilation brings together tracks recorded between 1964 and 1966. At this time, Simone was signed to the Philips label, having released nine prior albums on Colpix and two on Bethlehem. The songs collected here captureSimone in her prime, creating some of the best work of her legendary career. As always, her style ranges all over the musical map, encompassing jazz, folk, protest songs, gospel, and R&B into a unique and compelling artistic vision.Included on thiswonderful sampler are such timeless classics as the socially conscious “Four Women,” a Simone original that bitterly charts the fate of a quartet of very different women united by their color. THE BEST OF NINA SIMONE also features the hauntingly beautiful “Wild is the Wind,” her epic, gospel-flavored landmark recording of “Sinnerman,” and many other tracks you will want to hear again and again. BEST contains some of the best from one of music’s best. YEAR: 1969

S/N Time Song Title
1. 2:34 I Loves You Porgy
2. 4:55 Mississippi Goddam
3. 3:06 The Other Woman
4. 10:22 Sinnerman
5. 3:38 Ne Me Quitte Pas
6. 2:39 See Line Woman
7. 2:39 I Put A Spell On You
8. 2:40 Break Down And Let It All Out
9. 4:28 Four Women
10. 7:02 Wild Is The Wind
11. 6:43 Pirate Jenny
12. 2:43 Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood