There are more Nina Simone compilations out there than you can shake a stick at, some good, some less so, and most of them pretty predictable. One refreshing plus, at least for me, with this unpretentious 1996 Camden comp, despite minimum listings and sleevenotes, and seemingly no remastering - it hardy needs it - is the absence of the overplayed, rather overrated My Baby Just Cares For Me, which even Nina herself reportedly gew tired of being asked to sing.
What it does have is a treasure trove of lesser known Nina gems, such as not only her intense version of Dylan`s I Shall Be Released but also a great interpretation of his Just Like A Woman, a tremendous song given all the power it needs (Joe Cocker
did it justice too - as of course did Dylan himself).
Other highlights are Jimmy Webb`s Do What You Gotta Do, Nina`s own stunning Do I Move You, a terrific song called In The Dark, her unlikely but delicately moving version of Jerry Jeff Walker`s most famous song Mr Bojangles, the amusingly raunchy Turn Me On from the droll pen of John D Loudermilk, the slow and slinky Since I Fell For You - reminding us, incidentally, of the lady`s versatility and brilliance at the piano - as well as a few live tracks, including her big sixties hit Ain`t Got No - I Got Life, and Gin House Blues (also a debut hit for Amen Corner in the same decade).
En route, Ms Simone pays tribute to Martin Luther King, and reminds the grateful listener of her links with those jazz & blues singers, such as Billie Holiday, who went before. My Man`s Gone Now might have moved Billie herself.
There`s much more here, all of it vintage Simone. The sound is fine, and for its low price, I`d say this is one of the best single-CD collections of what made Nina Simone so respected and loved by so many discerning people.
`Do I move you...?`
Yes, Nina, you really do.