JJ 06/72: Nina Simone – This Is Nina Simone

Fifty years ago Art Napoleon enjoyed the jazz in this Simone collection but thought the backing sick and the overall production faceless. First published in Jazz Journal June 1972

Nina Simone

Nina Simone shares the cover of this reissue package with a multicolour ad­vertisement for LPs in the same series by Dusty Springfield, Val Doonican, Scott Walker, the Spinners, and – believe it or not – the Band of The Scots Guards. Unfortunately, the record inside bears out all the fears to be drawn from such presentation.

Admittedly, she’s an often powerful, occasionally moving and always enter­taining performer; she has enough jazz in her to make her records the kind of thing you don’t mind hearing between the babble at someone’s loft party.

In this spirit, there are good moments in Keeper, Duke’s Gal From Joe’s and the bittersweet Hold No Grudge, among others.

But that’s about all. The big band backing is predictably sick, strings and all; the charts do what they should in anyone’s studio date backing anyone’s singer. And that’s just the trouble – there is a facelessness about such music which, when all has been heard and heard again and chewed on awhile, still leaves me wondering whether the people who produce such records really intend them to be listened to seriously.

Or perhaps I’ve not been to enough parties lately.

Don’t You Pay Them No Mind; I’m Gonna Leave You; Brown Eyed Hand­some Man; Keeper Of The Flame; The Gal From Joe’s; Take Me To The Water; I’m Going Back Home (19¼ min) – I Hold No Grudge; Come Ye; He Ain’t Comin’ Home No More; Work Song; I Love My Baby (16¼ min)
Simone, vocals, accompanied by big band arranged and conducted by Hal Mooney. Person­nels, recording information not supplied.
(Philips International 6336 202 £1.25)