Good Overview For Beginners
Mr. Music | Sydney, Australia | 02/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm new to Nina Simone's music and wanted a resonably comprehensive sampler of her work so I chose this one. The main reason I went for this collection is that it had the song "The Other Woman" on it, and I noticed that some of her compilations bypass that song. I only became interested in investigating her music when I heard Jeff Buckley's cover of that song on the "Grace Legacy Edition" release so I really wanted to hear the original and it is the best song here in my opinion.
The other reason I chose this compilation is because it was released this year and so I figured the sound quality/remastering would be excellent. It is pretty good but there is a wide range of performances here from different time periods so it isn't consistent. Some of the songs sound crystal clear, especially the live recordings (there are plenty of those scattered throughout), but the instrumentation is all but buried in others, which is a little disappointing. I suppose thought that this could just be due to the nature of the recordings and there's nothing that can be done about it.
Normally I hate it when live versions of songs are scattered through career overviews like this since I like to have the definitive studio versions but in this instance I didn't mind as the live recordings are great and for all I know, they may just be the definitive versions of these songs. Just note that the last two songs are lifted straight from the 1987 live album "Let It Be Me". I only know this because the liner notes tell you what album each song originally came from, which is something I wish more career overviews did.
Ultimately, this compilation is successful because it made me want to investigate more of Nina Simone's music. That's what samplers like this are for, to give curious listeners a starting point so that they can delve further as they wish. After hearing these songs I'm keen to seek out other recordings of her singing blues especially and perhaps some that showcase her piano playing a bit more. It seems to me also that live recordings might be the best way to listen to her music.
Overall, a solid and satisfying compilation. Perfect for the curious listener who's new to Nina Simone's music as it provides an overview of all of her different styles but doesn't bombard you with too many songs (2 disc anthologies are almost always too much for casual fans)."