Album no. 75/1001
Nina Simone was originally known to her family and friends as Eunice Waymon but changed her name so they wouldn’t recognise her playing the “devil’s music”.
Interesting facts: For those Jeff Buckley fans, you’ll recognise ‘Lilac Wine’ – which he covers on Grace. Also, her version of ‘Strange Fruit’ (which was originally done by Billie Holiday) is sampled in Kanye West’s ‘Blood On The Leaves’.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: I’ve never heard this. I know Nina was a gun piano player as well as a singer, but that’s about it.
CL: I don’t know very much about Nina Simone
NK: THIS IS GREAT. It’s really hard to pick a standout. ‘Four Women’ is a heartbreaking song about race, and it is INTENSE. Really good. ‘I Love Your Lovin’ Ways’ is a great jaunty opener (although it’s a weird transition from that to ‘Four Women’), ‘What More Can I Say’ builds up to some crazy peaks, and ‘Break Down and Let It All Out’ is straight up really good, and then ‘Either Way I Lose’ is a weird pseudo doo-wop number to close. It’s a bit mismatched, but this album is really good.
CL: … is it? It is really great? I don’t get it. I didn’t really like this album all that much. I can’t put my finger on why, but I found it hard to get into. Like you say, I think it’s really inconsistent. I suppose if I had to choose a standout, it’s probably the first track, ‘I Love Your Lovin’ Ways’.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Whenever you want! Be warned though, it can be a bit of a roller coaster, tone wise.
CL: I got bored halfway through this album and pressed stop and listened to something else as a bit of a treat.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: So according to my research, this album is basically a collection of songs that had been recorded for other sessions but never released. Which explains the inconsistent tone across the album. It’s still really good though. ‘Four Women’ got banned from some radio stations due to concerns over the lyrics, and Nina often had songs touching on the civil rights movement.
CL: That makes sense. This album was weird.
Will you be listening again?
CL: No. I don’t think so. Sorry Nina.