Ms Simone’s first release for RCA records came out in 1967. I can’t say I have a favorite Nina Simone album, as there’s something special about everything she recorded. I like this one for the rawness of it, kicking off with “Do I Move You,” which is a swampy blues number coated with her ever elegant voice.
That juxtaposition continues over the entire album. The album was re-issued in the late 1990s 17-track compilation under the title The Blues.
“Real Real” is another strand out track as far as I’m concerned, it sounds more gospel than blues to me, but that can be a fine line.
I worked with Nina Simone,or “Dr Simone” as she preferred to be addressed at that time, on a charity concert at Carnegie Hall a few years before she passed. The finest of NYC’s catering was backstage, but she made no demands. After her soundcheck we were waiting on her car to arrive, and I smiled at her. She smiled back and said “I know what you’re thinking” and before I could say anything she beamed a smile “You are so proud of me”…That wasn’t what I was thinking, but it worked, and one does not argue with the “High Priestess of Soul.” I asked her if we could make her a to-go plate or if she wanted water for the ride back to the hotel. “I’m fine” she assured me. A few minutes later the driver called me laughing and said “She had me stop on 58th street and get her a hot dog, pretzel and Coca Cola from a street vendor!”
She arrived for the performance and sang “My Baby Just Cares for Me” and her stunning version of “Here Comes the Sun.” Hearing her sing on the stage of Carnegie Hall is up there as one of my favorite performances ever.
This is a good album to start out with if you are looking to explore her work.
I would also recommend “High Priestess of Soul” and “Wild is the Wind” which features the bluesy “I love your Loving ways” and her unmatched version of the title track. Although yes, I do of course love David Bowie’s version too.