Label: Speakers Corner / RCA LSP-4102 – 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl – AAA 100% Analogue
Limited Edition – Pure Analogue Audiophile Mastering – Pressed at Pallas Germany
This LP was Remastered using Pure Analogue Components Only from the Master Tapes through to the Cutting Head
Musicians certainly don’t have it easy with record companies. First of all they must struggle to even get a contract. Then, when their debut release has proved a success, they are bandied around from one arranger to another in all the recording studios imaginable. But having been ‘treated’ with such sounds as a snappy combo, meaty bigband, and smoochy string orchestra, there at last comes an opportunity for some artists to be themselves again.
This album wholly concentrates on Nina Simone and demonstrates that she does not need help from anyone else in order to bring her strikingly expressive voice into the limelight. Accompanying her in her songs about loneliness, identity crises, and desires is her faithful friend, the piano, which she masters equally as well as her voice. The piano parts are far more than just casual accompaniments. Varying from number to number, they range from a classical, bluesy sound, to late-Romantic fervour, right up to avantgarde aggression. And yet all these pieces have something in common: filled with bizarre beauty, they portray a complex personality with all its ups and downs.
“Nina Simone And Piano!” is a great combination of the standards of the first stage of her career with more experimental and modern references from her later recordings. The song selection is fabulous and includes selections by both younger writers such as Randy Newman and old legends like Hoagy Carmichael. Simone sees to it that soul and feeling come before aesthetic appeal or instrumental perfection.
Her own best accompanist (especially during the crossover-happy ’60s), Nina Simone sings and plays on this 1970 LP. With strident vocals and a thoughtful piano backing, Simone makes her own a pair of radically different (though similarly fatalistic) compositions, Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today.” Her version of “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon” leans dangerously close to avant-garde overkill, but she returns with good performances on “Compensation” and “Who Am I?” A great moment comes when a tambourine finally joins her midway through “Another Spring,” and the lone jazz standard (“I Get Along Without You Very Well”) is given a touching performance. In an era when Simone often veered from crossover to experimental, Nina Simone and Piano! is undeniably difficult, but frequently rewarding.