Nina Simone: Nina Simone - The Philips Years

Nina Simone - The Philips Years

Nina Simone

  • US $176.99  

  • Release Date 15 July 2016
  • Dispatched within 3-5 days
Product code
Vinyl Box Set

Housed in a deluxe box the set will feature ‘Nina Simone In Concert’ (’64), ‘Broadway-Blues-Ballads’ (’64), ‘I Put A Spell On You’ (’65), ‘Pastel Blues’ (’65), ‘Let It All Out’ (’66), ‘Wild Is The Wind’ (’66) and ‘High Priestess Of Soul’ (’67) in facsimiles of the original sleeve artwork. The box set will be available in both CD and vinyl formats and all of the albums in the vinyl box will be available individually as part of Universal’s Back To Black range. The vinyl masters were cut at Abbey Road using high res 192/24 WAVs and are all in stereo. All vinyl releases will be 180g and include a download code for MP3 redemption. This is the first time that ‘Broadway-Blues-Ballads’ and ‘Let It All Out’ have been made available on vinyl since their original release.

‘Nina Simone in Concert’ was taken from three live shows recorded at New York’s Carnegie Hall in March and April 1964 and it features two of her best known songs – a live version of her first hit ‘I Love You, Porgy’ taken from the opera ‘Porgy & Bess’ by George and Ira Gershwin, and the mournful ‘Don’t Smoke In Bed’, as well as the hilariously risqué ‘Go Limp’. This album also saw her embrace the theme of civil rights in song for the first time in her recording career. It features one of the greatest protest songs in the canon –‘Mississippi Goddam’, a deceptively jaunty musical number which was inspired by the murder of civil rights activist Medgar Evers by the Klu Klux Klan (an event that also inspired Dylan’s ‘A Pawn In The Game’) and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama. Released as a single, the song, an incendiary cri de coeur which she performed outside Montgomery Alabama during the landmark Selma To Montgomery marches, was banned in several southern US states. ‘Old Jim Crow’ and her reading of ‘Pirate Jenny’ from ‘The Threepenny Opera’ by Kurt Weill and Bertholdt Brecht are similarly powerful political statements of intent from this fearless artist.

In contrast her second Philips album ‘Broadway-Blues-Ballads’ is more light-hearted. It opens with one of Nina Simone’s signature songs, “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood”, which was written for her by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell and Sol Marcus, and was later taken to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic by The Animals; the song has since become a standard in the Great American Songbook. Other stand out songs on the album include Cole Porter’s ‘The Laziest Gal In Town’ and ‘Something Wonderful’ from the broadway musical ‘The King & I’ by Rogers & Hammerstein, and ‘See-Line Woman’, a song based on a traditional children’s folk ditty, which was to become a regular part of Simone’s live repertoire.

Simone’s third album for Philips, ‘65’s ‘I Put a Spell on You’ introduced the world to several more of her best-loved songs. The title track, a cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins novelty hit, was transformed by Simone’s languid arrangement into a mesmerizing love song and an instant classic. Its impact was so great she used the title for her 1992 autobiography. The album also features perhaps her most well-known song to contemporary audiences, ‘Feeling Good’, which was written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the musical ‘The Roar Of The Greasepaint – The Smell Of The Crowd’; the song was brought back into currency via an advertising campaign and has since been covered and sampled by countless other artists including Kanye West, George Michael, Muse and Michael Bublé, but none match the power of Simone’s definitive version. Other stand out songs were sourced in Europe – a heartrending take on Jacques Brel’s ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ (tr.‘Don’t Leave Me’) sung in the original French, and two Charles Aznavour songs: ‘Tomorrow Is My Turn’ and ‘You’ve Got To Learn’.

Later the same year Simone followed up with ‘Pastel Blues’, an album best known for its stunning 10 minute rendition of the traditional song ‘Sinnerman’ (one of Barack Obama’s favourite songs!) that closes the record and Simone’s emotional performance of the anti-lynching ballad ‘Strange Fruit’. The album opens with a breathtaking blues a capella called ‘Be My Husband’, which was written by Simone’s husband and manager at the time Andrew Stroud. Jeff Buckley loved this song, retitled it ‘Be Your Husband’ and his version can be heard on his posthumous release ‘Live at Sine-é’ (‘03).

Album number 5 for Philips was ‘Let It All Out’ which mixed studio performances with live recordings. It features beautifully intimate interpretations of songs by Duke Ellington (‘Mood Indigo’), Irving Berlin (‘This Year’s Kisses’) and Rogers & Hart (‘Little Girl Blue’) and Simone takes one of Bob Dylan’s most hard hitting songs, ‘The Ballad Of Hollis Brown’, and makes it her own. One of the most striking performances on the record is a live a cappella performance of ‘Images’ based on a poem about the beauty of blackness by Waring Cuney.

Nina Simone's sixth album for Philips Records was ‘Wild Is The Wind’, an intriguing collection of jazz ballads and traditional folk tunes. The title track was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis for the 1957 film of the same name, but it was Nina Simone’s beautifully mournful version that inspired David Bowie to cover it for his ’76 album ‘Station To Station’. Ever politically engaged Nina Simone’s composition ‘Four Women’, an angry history of black women’s experience, was controversially banned in certain quarters due to concern over the lyrics. Her stunning version of James Shelton’s ‘Lilac Wine’, featured here, once again provided inspiration to Jeff Buckley who aped her arrangement on his debut album ‘Grace’ in ’94.

‘High Priestess of Soul’, the seventh and final album Simone released for Philips, maintains the high standards of the previous six and is similarly a beautifully eclectic mix of jazz, blues, pop, soul and gospel. Stand out songs include a wonderful version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’, her own hypnotic spiritual ‘Come Ye’ and the big band blues ‘Work Song’ written by Oscar Brown and Nat Adderley.

‘Nina Simone – The Philips Years’ captures the unique talent of Nina Simone when she was at her creative peak and is an education and a joy for anyone whose interest in Simone stretches beyond her signature hits ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ and ‘Feeling Good’.

The full tracklisting for ‘Nina Simone – The Philips Years’:

In Concert
Side A:

  1. I Loves You, Porgy
  2. Plain Gold Ring
  3. Pirate Jenny
  4. Old Jim Crow
Side B:
  1. Don't Smoke In Bed
  2. Go Limp
  3. Mississippi Goddam

Broadway, Blues, Ballads
Side A:

  1. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
  2. Night Song (From The Musical "Golden Boy")
  3. The Laziest Gal In Town
  4. Something Wonderful (From "The King And I")
  5. Don't Take All Night
  6. Nobody
Side B:
  1. I Am Blessed
  2. Of This I'm Sure
  3. See-Line Woman
  4. Our Love (Will See Us Through)
  5. How Can I
  6. The Last Rose Of Summer

I Put A Spell On You
Side A:

  1. I Put A Spell On You
  2. Tomorrow Is My Turn
  3. Ne Me Quitte Pas
  4. Marriage Is For Old Folks
  5. July Tree
  6. Gimme Some
Side B:
  1. Feeling Good
  2. One September Day
  3. Blues On Purpose
  4. Beautiful Land
  5. You've Got To Learn
  6. Take Care Of Business

Pastel Blues
Side A:

  1. Be My Husband
  2. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
  3. End Of The Line
  4. Trouble In Mind
  5. Tell Me More And More And Then Some
  6. Chilly Winds Don't Blow
Side B:
  1. Ain't No Use
  2. Strange Fruit
  3. Sinnerman

Let It All Out
Side A:

  1. Mood Indigo
  2. The Other Woman
  3. Love Me Or Leave Me
  4. Don't Explain
  5. Little Girl Blue
  6. Chauffeur
Side B:
  1. For Myself
  2. The Ballad Of Hollis Brown
  3. This Year's Kisses
  4. Images
  5. Nearer Blessed Lord

Wild Is The Wind
Side A:

  1. I Love Your Lovin' Ways
  2. Four Women
  3. Lilac Wine (From "Dance Me A Song")
  4. Break Down And Let It All Out
  5. Either Way I Lose
Side B:
  1. Why Keep On Breaking My Heart
  2. Wild Is The Wind
  3. Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair
  4. If I Should Lose You

High Priestess Of Soul
Side A:

  1. Don't You Pay Them No Mind
  2. I'm Gonna Leave You
  3. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
  4. Keeper Of The Flame
  5. The Gal From Joe's
  6. Take Me To The Water
  7. I'm Going Back Home
Side B:
  • I Hold No Grudge
  • Come Ye
  • He Ain't Comin' Home No More
  • Work Song
  • I Love My Baby