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Nina SIMONE – Sings The Blues 1967

Posted in JAZZ, Nina SIMONE on December 3, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Nina SIMONE – Sings The Blues 1967


Originally released in 1967, SINGS THE BLUES marks the beginning of Nina Simone’s tenure on the RCA label. True to its title, the album is steeped in the blues, with Simone’s passionate vocals and nuanced piano lines evoking a beautifully bittersweet world of sultry love and inevitable heartache. Backed on many tracks by an ensemble that’s intuitive enough to play it loose, Simone settles into a deep groove on songs such as the stirring “Do I Move You?” and the slowburning “In the Dark,” while getting lightly funky on “Day and Night.” The record’s showstopper, however, is a haunting solo rendition of “My Man’s Gone Now,” one of the most powerful versions of the Gershwin classic ever recorded. A fascinating snapshot of the legendary performer, SINGS THE BLUES is an essential Simone album.
Nina Simone Sings the Blues, issued in 1967, was her RCA label debut, and was a brave departure from the material she had been recording for Phillips. Indeed, her final album for that label, High Priestess of Soul, featured the singer, pianist, and songwriter fronting a virtual orchestra. Here, Simone is backed by a pair of guitarists (Eric Gale and Rudy Stevenson), bassist (Bob Bushnell), drummer (Bernard Pretty Purdie), organist (Ernie Hayes), and harmonica player who doubled on saxophone (Buddy Lucas). Simone handled the piano chores. The song selection is key here. Because for all intents and purposes this is perhaps the rawest record Simone ever cut. It opens with the sultry, nocturnal, slow-burning original Do I Move You, which doesn’t beg the question but demands an answer Do I move youAre you willin’Do I groove youIs it thrillin’Do I soothe youTell the truth nowDo I move youAre you loose nowThe answer better be yeah…It pleases me…. As the guitarists slip and slide around her husky vocal, a harmonica wails in the space between, and Simone’s piano is the authority, hard and purposely slow. The other tune in that vein, In the Dark, is equally tense and unnerving; the band sounds as if it’s literally sitting around as she plays and sings. There are a number of Simone signature tunes on this set, including I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl, Backlash Blues, and her singular, hallmark, definitive reading of My Man’s Gone Now from Porgy and Bess. Other notable tracks are the raucous, sexual roadhouse blues of Buck, written by Simone’s then husband Andy Stroud, and the woolly gospel blues of Real Real, with the Hammond B-3 soaring around her vocal. The cover of Buddy Johnson’s Since I Fell for You literally drips with ache and want. Simone also reprised her earlier performance of House of the Rising Sun (released on a 1962 Colpix live platter called At the Village Gate). It has more authority in this setting as a barrelhouse blues; it’s fast, loud, proud, and wailing with harmonica and B-3 leading the charge. The original set closes with the slow yet sassy Blues for Mama, ending with the same sexy strut the album began with, giving it the feel of a Mubius strip. Nina Simone Sings the Blues is a hallmark recording that endures; it deserves to be called a classic.
By Thom Jurek, All Music Guide.
Nina Simone- Vocal, Piano
Eric Gale- Guitar
Rudy Stevenson- Guitar
Ernie Hayes- Organ
Bob Bushnell- Bass
Bernard Purdie- Drums, Timpani
Buddy Lucas- Harmonica, Tenor Sax
A1. Do I Move You?   2:45
A2. Day and Night   2:34
A3. In the Dark   2:56
A4. Real Real   2:20
A5. My Man’s Gone Now   4:16
A6. Backlash Blues   2:29
B1. I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl   2:33
B2. Buck   1:51
B3. Since I Fell for You   2:50
B4. The House of the Rising Sun   3:51
B5. Blues for Mama   3:56

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