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on 30 March 2007
Nina Simone recorded many landmark albums during her long career, and this, from her stint at RCA (68-74), is certainly one of them.

"And Piano!" does exactly what it says on the tin: it consists of Nina's vocals (that deep, haunting voice) and her classicaly-trained, often angular piano playing, with only a few overdubs stategically added.

Despite its simplicity,it is no easy album; it will take you at least five listens before you can control the emotional pull that this music exerts. Yet when you are past that phase, you will only have to marvel at the dark beauty of this work; the whole album is in fact a meditation on human destiny and failure, with only rare glimpses of hope and redemption. All this is understandable, as it was recorded after the end of Nina's relationship with Andy Stroud, her husband and manager, who apparently left her running away with much of her money, just to add insult to injury.

As is often the case with Simone's albums there are no original songs, but the way she covers/rearranges the material makes it entirely her own. Try, for instance, the devastating take on "The Desperate Ones" by Jacques Brel or the softly whispered "I Get Along Without You Very Well" - the sound of a soul slowly disintegrating in spring rain - and you will have heard some of the most subtle vocal interpretations ever recorded in jazz or any other genres you may care to mention.

This could be repeated for any track here, but "And Piano!" also contains a little test that everyone should take to check one's own level of humanity: if the shift from bleak despair to gospel-tinged hope in "Another Spring" leaves you cold and indifferent, then you should feel your pulse and start thinking of moving to another planet, because you are probably NOT HUMAN. But if something happens to you (tears, gasping for air, the like), then you will know for sure that Nina Simone has entered your soul, and that she will remain there forever.
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on 31 August 2008
Nina Simone recorded many landmark albums during her long career, and this is definitely one of them. When interviewed in the '90s, she even declared that "Piano!" was the one she wanted to be remembered by.

Who could possibly disagree? Released in 1969, this opus was a resounding commercial flop but it allows us to experience Nina's rawest feelings, as it consists of her deep, imposing voice and her angular, classicaly-trained piano playing. Its atmosphere is bleak, even desperate, the sound of a soul looking for redemption in an empty world. Nina's powers, however, always border on magic and here it happens one again: from this well of loneliness (spiritual, political, sexual) comes a positive strength that only the great (that is, the vulnerable) possess in sufficient amount to affect those around them.

"Piano!" features no songs written by Simone, but such is the artist's ability to interpret and arrange the material that every track instantly becomes a classic. Authors covered include Randy Newman, Hoagy Carmichael, Jacques Brel, along with blues and Broadway standards, each of them an essential part of this immensely affecting record.

It is not an easy album. It will take you at least four or five listens to be able to manage your reactions (that is, to avoid bursting into tears) but once you are there, you will know that you still possess THE HUMAN TOUCH and that Nina Simone is now part of your very soul.

You will never forget her. She will be there when darkness descends.
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on 26 January 2011
Ok, just to clarify-I genuinely mean this-this really is the best album of all time.
People who don't agree will fit into three categories:
1: The deaf. They are excused.
2: Those who haven't heard it. I urge them to hear it.
3: Those who have a dreadful taste in music and no sense of place, culture, self or emotion. Their opinion should not be taken seriously anyway.
Some songs are immediate; some grow and blossom at a later date. Some songs lay dormant until the time in your life when you need them most.
I would explain this album like this:
If you needed to explain what it was to be a human, with all its intricacies, contradictions, questions of mortality and worth, of place and value, love, life, loss, joy, sorrow, hope, despair, joy and pain. If aliens landed on earth and needed a guide to the human race, look no further. This album summarises the human psyche like no other work of art.
Just listen to it, you'll see.
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on 5 February 2009
Recorded in 1968 and released in 1969, a lesser known album, and not commercially successful, even at a time when Nina's career as an artist and a political activist was on the rise. But a release that it is rated by long standing fans -'as pure Nina'; Nina and keyboards with hardly any other contribution. At a time when Nina was adapting quite rousing tracks such as `I Ain't Got No/ I've got Life' from the musical `Hair' and anthems such as `Why the King of Love is Dead' about the murder of her friend, Martin Luther King junior, `Nina Simone and Piano' is quite introspective. It is surprising to note that the piano playing is quite understated, especially considering that Nina was a very accomplished musician who was originally intending to be a classical music pianist.

The CD versions includes four bonus track, original sleeve notes and a new review by veteran Soul journalist David Nathan.

Highlights include the opening tracks ,the blues based 'Seems I'm Never Tired Lovin' You`, and 'Nobody's Fault but Mine' , an intense standard about being condemned to Hell, particularly striking when taking account of Nina's childhood Gospel background. Jonathan King `s `Everyone `s gone to the Moon' is quirky but endearing. Nina's version of the `Desperate One' by Jacques Brel, is amazing. The first time that she would record Brel, and the start of European affinity which would become more important later in her life. There are four bonus tracks, including `Music for Lovers' on which Nina performs on a Wurlitzer organ, and is superb. In total there fourteen tracks, bringing the total playing to just under fifty minutes.

This release is very much for the `Ninaologists' and probably not the best place to start exploring her career. Some of the pieces are quite brooding at times, yet it is understandable why this album is so highly regarded by Nina fans. Some of the later Nina releases are given lavish accompaniments, and Nina nearly always appeared live with backing musicians, but here is Nina performing on her own . The core of her talent comes through well.
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on 24 January 2014
Simply marvellous. And oddly magnetic. One can listen to it over and over without becoming tired of it. A kind of jazz/blues equivalent to great classical Lieder such as they by Schubert or Mahler.
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on 8 April 2016
Not everyone's taste, but some of the tracks are stunning. More jazz/classically influenced with less of a pop feel than some of her offerings. A couple of the tracks are a little self indulgent, but the opening tracks are superb.
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on 20 May 2013
A great addition to my growing collection of Nina Simone recordings. It is refreshing to hear Nina alone at the piano as this seems to give her greater freedom of expression and she certainly makes the most of the opportunity.
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on 13 June 2015
Excellent CD from the incomparible Nina! Also reasonable price!
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on 29 August 2015
This is truly a masterpiece from a genbius
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