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The Nina Simone Database
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In Concert + I Put a Spell on You
Additional discography
 
 

Mercury 846 543-2 (1990 US)

Tracks sorted by number (sort by session or by title)
 1 [2:30] I Loves You Porgy   George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward

 2 [6:17] Plain Gold Ring   Earl S. Burroughs

 3 [6:36] Pirate Jenny   Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill piano played by Atkinson

 4 [2:38] Old Jim Crow   Jackie Alper, Nina Simone, Ron Vander Groef

 5 [5:25] Don't Smoke in Bed   Willard Robison

 6 [6:58] Go Limp   Alex Comfort, Nina Simone

 7 [4:52] Mississippi Goddam   Nina Simone standard studio version

 8 [2:34] I Put a Spell on You   Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Slotkin sax solo by Jerome Richardson

 9 [2:50] Tomorrow Is My Turn   Charles Aznavour, M. Stellman, Y. Stephane

 10 [3:35] Ne Me Quitte Pas   Jacques Brel

 11 [3:31] Marriage Is For Old Folks   Leon Carr, Mort Shuman

 12 [2:42] July Tree   Irma Jurist, Eve Merriam

 13 [2:59] Gimme Some   Andy Stroud

 14 [2:54] Feeling Good   Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley

 15 [2:49] One September Day   Rudy Stevenson

 16 [3:15] Blues on Purpose   Rudy Stevenson

 17 [1:56] Beautiful Land   Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley

 18 [2:41] You've Got to Learn   Charles Aznavour, M. Stellman

 19 [2:04] Take Care of Business   Andy Stroud

Liner Notes by Joel E. Siegel
Bach and Billie Holiday; African chants and Christmas carols; Gershwin and Bob Dylan; gospel hymns and showtunes; Chopin and Chuck Berry; country blues and French chansons... Nina Simone has fused an abundance of seemingly incompatible influences and traditions into a distinctive, inimitable style. A world of music finds expression in her haunting molasses-vinegar voice and articulate piano settings.

Born Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933 in Tyron [sic], North Carolina, Simone, the sixth of eight children, is the daughter of a handyman and a mother who worked as a housekeeper by day and served as an ordained Methodist minister at night. At 7, Eunice played piano and organ, and sang with her sisters in her mother's church choir.

In her teens, Eunice studied classical piano and gave recitals at the town library. With the financial help of some local supporters, she attended a girls' boarding school and, after graduation, continued her musical education at the Julliard [sic] School of Music. Then the money ran out. She returned to her family who had relocated to Philadelphia, where she supported herself as a piano teacher and accompanist for vocalists. Auditioning for a summer job at an Atlantic City night club, she learned that the club owner was looking for a singer-pianist and decided to take the job, assuming the stage name Nina Simone to conceal her new vocation from her students and family.

Simone's first album, recorded for Bethlehem in 1958, won her stardom. A single released from that recording, "I Loves You Porgy," became a national pop hit in the summer of 1959, selling over a million copies. 30 years later, "My Baby Just Cares for Me," another selection from the same album, was used in a 1987 British television perfume commercial and reached the 5th slot on the English pop charts.

In 1959, Simone signed with Colpix Records, producing a series of studio and "live" performances. Then, in 1964, she began a 3-year association with Philips, a Mercury subsidiary, which yielded 7 albums, 6 of which are currently being reissued on compact disc and cassette. From 1968 through 1974, she recorded a series of albums
for RCA, to date her last longtime affiliation with an American label.

Embittered by racism and exploitation of artists, Simone renounced her homeland in 1969, and has subsequently lived in Barbados, Liberia, France, and Switzerland. Although she rarely returns to the United States, she continues to perform and record abroad.

Nina Simone in Concert
Nina Simone in Concert (1964), the artist's first Philips album, is equally compelling for its musical and political content. Although Simone revisits two songs from her Bethlehem debut-- "I Loves You, Porgy" and the African-inflect ed "Plain Gold Ring"-- and revives the pensive Willard Robison ballad "Don't Smoke in Bed," her concern on the most celebrated tracks is racial injustice. The album's cover announces Simone's severity; the smiling face that adorned her Colpix albums is replaced by a stern scowl. She shrewdly transports the combative Brecht-Weill Blitzstein "Pirate Jenny," sung by Lotte Lenya in The Threepenny Opera, from the backstreets of London to a dockside hotel in the Ameri can South. Echoing Duke Ellington's exuberant "Jump for Joy," the rollicking "Old Jim Crow," which Simone co-authored, anticipates and celebrates the end of racial discrimination. "Go Limp" is a parodic folk song about an i dealistic young woman's political and sexual liberation during a freedom march. Simone's composition "Mississippi Goddam"-- an incongruously buoyant two-beat expression of outrage
which the singer-pianist observes is "a showtune but the sh ow hasn't been written for it yet"-- ends the concert on a note of sulfuric defiance. ("This whole country is full of lies/You all gonna die and die like flies.") "Mississippi Goddam" became an anthem for a generation of young bl ack people determined to shake off the yoke of oppression.

I Put a Spell on You
In I Put a Spell on You (1965), Simone explores personal themes-- self-discovery and the joys and sorrows of love. There are 3 French songs--2 by Charles Aznavour and one by Jacques Brel, the last sung in French; 3 Broadway showtunes (2 fro m the Anthony Newley-Leslie Bricusse The Roar of the Greasepaint and one from the short-lived The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; 2 compositions, the lyrical "One September Day" and the instrumental "Blues on Purpose, " written by her guitarist Rudy Stevenson; and 2 rhythm and blues numbers by her then-husband Andy Stroud. I. Jurist and E. Merrian's pastoral "July Tree" and a satiny reading of the raucous Screaming Jay Hawkins' r&b hit for which the album is titled complete the program. Arranged by Hal Mooney and Horace Ott for strings, brass and voices, I Put a Spell on You is one of Simone's most adventurous and satisfying recordings.

Joel E. Siegel
City Paper, Washington, DC