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The Nina Simone Database

Sings the Blues
Additional discography

RCA 82876 73334 2 (2006 US)

Includes all tracks of LP Sings the Blues plus 2 bonus tracks.
Tracks sorted by number (sort by session or by title)
 1 [2:46] Do I Move You?   Nina Simone

 2 [2:34] Day and Night   Rudy Stevenson

 3 [2:56] Romance in the Dark   Lil Green listed "In the Dark"

 4 [2:20] Real Real   Nina Simone

 5 [4:14] My Man's Gone Now   George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward

 6 [2:29] Backlash Blues   Langston Hughes, Nina Simone

 7 [2:32] I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl   Tim Brymn, Dally Small, Clarence Williams

 8 [1:50] Buck   Andy Stroud

 9 [2:50] Since I Fell for You   Buddy Johnson

 10 [3:52] House of the Rising Sun   Traditional

 11 [3:58] Blues for Mama   Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone

 12 [2:17] Do I Move You?   Nina Simone bonus trackanother take

 13 [3:03] Whatever I Am, You Made Me   Willie Dixon bonus track

David Nathan, aka "The British Ambassador Of Soul", Owner, November, 2005

The April 1967 release of Nina Simone Sings The Blues, the revered performer's RCA debut album, was a significant milestone in her already-accomplished career for many reasons. It not only marked the beginning of what many have considered her most productive recording period but firmly established the North Carolina-born musician, singer, songwriter and composer as an international hitmaker and enduring global musical icon. From 1966 to 1974, Nina Simone was an RCA recording artist and as such, she enjoyed a Top 5 pop hit in the U.K. (pairing "Ain't Got No" and "I Got Life," two songs from the groundbreaking Broadway musical Hair); her biggest U.S. single with the now-classic "To Be Young, Gifted & Black"; and the release of nine albums that demonstrated Simone's undeniable artistry, remarkable for its musical breadth and depth.

Nina Simone Sings The Blues was an auspicious start at RCA for both the woman born Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933 and her then husband-manager, ex-New York detective Andy Stroud: it was a 'concept' album and distinctly different from High Priestess Of Soul, a collection issued just weeks before by Philips Records, Nina's recording home from 1963 to 1966. The two albums couldn't have been more different: High Priestess was notable for its sophisticated orchestration while Sings The Blues was more downhome and earthy as its title implied.

The task of producing Nina's first RCA album fell to Danny Davis, then an A&R executive at the label, an unlikely choice – at least based on a musical resume that included producing six hit singles on singer Connie Francis and work with country music legend Chet Atkins! In a 2004 interview for the Sanctuary Books publication, 'Nina Simone: Break Down & Let It All Out,' Davis recalled, "She came into my office at RCA... wearing a white turban and turned to me and said, 'Do you know my music?'. I replied, 'Yes, but not as well as you do, Nina.' Then she asked, 'Do you know my people?' and I answered again, 'Yes, but not as well as you do!' She looked at me and said, 'Well, I've heard some nice things about you but you're white.' Then she smiled and said, 'Maybe we'll be friends' and then walked out!"

Davis wisely assembled the cream of New York's session players for Sings The Blues, recorded over a few weeks between late December '66 and early January '67. With guitarist Eric Gale, drummer Bernard Purdie, organ player Ernie Hayes, bassist Bob Bushnell and harmonica and sax player Buddy Lucas on hand along with Nina's longtime guitarist Rudy Stevenson, Davis created the perfect environment for Nina to let loose, expressing herself with the kind of unabashed freedom which had long been her trademark as a live performer but had rarely been captured in studio settings.

The choice of songs reflected Nina Simone's roots in gospel ("Real, Real"), blues ("In The Dark") and indeed classical music – listen to her magnificent keyboard piano on "My Man's Gone Now" from the musical Porgy & Bess. Other than one obvious but ill-fated attempt to come up with a radio-friendly cut – in the form of guitarist Stevenson's perky "Day And Night" – the material on Nina Simone Sings The Blues is an exquisite display of her uncategorizable artistry. Who else could move effortlessly from the highly suggestive sexually-insinuating "I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl" to "Backlash Blues," a Simone original penned with prominent, renowned African-American writer and friend Langston Hughes in the best tradition of Nina's message material delivered with all the 'sit-up-and-listen' oft-times stinging bite that made her contributions to the civil rights movement of such significance and importance.

While Nina didn't hold back when it came to telling it like it is (as evidenced by her highly personal "Blues For Mama," a one-off collaboration with the equally uncompromising singer-songwriter Abbey Lincoln), she was just as 'at home' expressing herself with paced poignancy: her reading of the '30s Buddy Johnson standard "Since I Fell For You" aches with melancholy echoing the yearning she exhibits on another classic blues tune, Lil Green's "In The Dark." Like her own "Do I Move You?" and the titillating "Buck" (written by husband-manager Stroud), the cut reflected Nina's unabashed celebration of sex, a theme often overlooked by highbrow critics but just as much a consistent topic in the song choices dotted throughout her '60s Philips albums!

For her RCA debut, Nina also revisited "The House Of The Rising Sun," the traditional folk tune she had originally recorded for a 1962 Colpix Records' At The Village Gate, giving it a different twist with a raucous uptempo reading, in marked contrast to the stark "My Man's Gone Now," considered by many the highlight of Nina's first RCA sessions. In a note for the original LP producer Davis stated, "Miss Simone was physically and emotionally exhausted from previous recording, she sat down at the piano and began to play and sing this moving 'Porgy And Bess' tune. The bass picked it up. From somewhere she summoned up the stamina to deliver with even more intensity and a spirit a rare, perfect performance that could not be improved."

Listening now some forty years after it was cut, Sings The Blues stands up as a landmark album in an amazing career that spanned half-a-century until Nina Simone passed away on Aril 21, 2003 just months after her 70th birthday. Its 2006 reissue (with the addition of a second version of "Do I Move You?" and the 1969 single, a reading of bluesman Willie Dixon's "Whatever I Am You Made Me") is a reminder of the recorded legacy this veritable musical genius has left for us to cherish and enjoy.