"This is the first Nina Simone album I ever bought and itÕs one of the most precious records I own. I got my first vinyl copy thirty years ago, after seeing and hearing her on a PBS special. I ended up with this record because it was the only thing they had by her at the record store and, like practically everyone who has ever heard her sing (unfortunately, not nearly enough people), I had to have SOMETHING. The first time you hear her voice she becomes an addiction. Years later I bought a cassette of this album for the car, and after I got a CD player, this was one of the very first CDs I bought. For thirty years, itÕs been one of the few albums I never wanted to be without.The odd thing is, itÕs not a flawless record. There are a couple of tracks that I skip almost every time I listen to it. (Her pitch on "Wild Is The Wind" is so off itÕs like fingernails on a blackboard.) But forget the duds. The rest of the album is not just brilliant, itÕs beyond compare. Nobody sounds like Nina Simone. Not even close. I couldnÕt even describe to someone who has never heard her exactly what style of music she sings. SheÕs sometimes classified as an r&b singer, which makes no sense at all. Most critics all her a jazz singer, but she has objected strenuously to that label, and certainly if youÕre thinking of Billie Holiday or Sara Vaughan, youÕre way off base. In her autobiography, she calls herself a folk singer, but that evokes images of Joan Baez and Judy Collins, and doesnÕt really fit her either.Nina Simone is simply a brilliant musician, a genius who has taken in a wide range of influences Ð gospel, jazz, folk, classical, blues, European art song, musical theater, r&b, everything Ð and blended them together into unique works of art. The only performer of her breadth I can think of is Ray Charles Ð and as much as I admire Ray Charles, I think Nina Simone is even better.On some songs Ð "I Put A Spell On You," for example, and "DonÕt Let Me Be Misunderstood" Ð her singing is so deep and moving, so honest, she brings chills even after youÕve heard the songs a thousand times. Others go even beyond that. Listening to her rendition of BrechtÕs "Pirate Jenny" is like listening to a soliloquy by a brilliant actress on a bare stage: she evokes an entire world, an entire soul, with the sound of her voice. The anger of "Mississippi Goddamn" still burns decades after she wrote the song. You canÕt listen to her without feeling angry yourself. And the 10-minute "Sinnerman" is awe-inspiring, a religious experience, every second of it. DonÕt expect to put this on in the background, because this is music that will force you to sit down and pay attention to it. Nina Simone will not be ignored.I wouldnÕt be without this album."
Brown Eyed Handsome Woman !
iheartcrass | 07/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you describe her style as jazz, then Nina Simone is my favorite Jazz singer. I prefer to call Nina a vocalist (and yes, she's also my favorite vocalist). Nina Simone's voice just makes me giddy. It makes my skin goose pimple. I can't say exactly why. Its not sweet and chipper like Ella, nor is it world weary like Billie, it has its own life. It's raspy and earthy. Its almost gravely growl gives the songs Nina sings a more truthful sound. You can't help but believe her when she sings 'Pirate Jenny' that if someone made her the king (and I do mean king. Nina sounds like she could beat up most anyone in a street fight...) of the pirates, you are going to be in trouble mister. BIG TROUBLE.Other standouts on this album include the classic civil rights anthem MISSIPPI GODDAM, the re-done classic by the Animals DONT LET ME BE MISUDERSTOOD, and the two songs that could easily be predecessors to dance music SINNERMAN and SEE LINE WOMAN. My personal favorites on this album are PIRATE JENNY and the self explanitory BREAK DOWN AND LET IT ALL OUT. You can just feel the anger and hurt in her voice as you listen. To me, that's a very rare and beautiful thing..."
So she might sound like a man
Manny Hernandez | 04/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When first I heard Nina Simone, I was sure that it was a man, but my friend hastily corrected me on my grave error, as she was, as I was soon to learn, the greatest Diva. Although not the only one to have made this gender mistake, neither am I alone in having huge respect for her undeniable talent. Like so many musicians, her songs are well known, frequently sung and often copied, but she is scarcely remembered. However, when you hear this album, her voice, filled with utter sensuality, hits you with intense emotion. Its huskiness reminds of all the sorrows which well in the back of your throat, yet it is reminiscent of hope. A quality becoming so rare in music is amplified in her songs, and this is the character which she gives to each one. Every piece is individual and charming, even the French track Ne Me Qitte Plus, with its awful accent is still completely endearing. To use a cliche, these timeless classics are enchanting and seductively romantic. You will undoubtly find yourself singing along, as if she 'put a spell on you'."
Miss Nina Simone Goddam!
Lydia | NY | 06/13/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What an incredible compilation of the very best that Nina has to offer. The emotional range and sense of humor presented on this CD make the listener feel as if she/he were at one of Nina's concerts-one can almost smell the cigarettes and whiskey being enjoyed by the audience. She is a true Diva in the very best sense of the word. All songs are amazing and provide the listener with a great building block or addition to one's Nina Simone education."
One of life's nice little surprises...
Manny Hernandez | Bay Area, CA | 04/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nina Simone entered my life by sheer coincidence. Her music happened to pop up in the soundtracks of so many movies that I loved that I figured it could not be coincidence. Pedro Almodovar's "Viva La Tristeza" (music that inspired him to write 'Talk To Her'), "Any Given Sunday" and, more recently, "Before Sunset". So I decided to purchase this 12-song compilation of The Best of Nina Simone. Not only was I not dissapointed. I found Nina's music to touch my soul in multiple ways: she can be romantic, but then she can be a rebel and protest against the system; she can be charming, yet she can be explosive and in-your-face. Her voice carries something sad yet irresistible that you cannot help but fall in love with. Nina is like a diamond with a million faces, and all of them shine to make her music, no matter when or where you run into it, one of life's nice little surprises.
For a sample of her romantic side, listen to "Wild Is The Wind" or the French "Ne Me Quitte Pas" (Don't Leave Me). For some more Nina, check out the extended "Sinnerman"."