CD Review of Remixed & Reimagined by Nina Simone

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Remixed & Reimagined
starstarstarno starno star Label: Legacy
Released: 2006
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Someday, somebody will make a really good bio-pic about Nina Simone. It has all the elements of a great story. She overcame poverty, studied at Julliard in a day and age when African Americans really didn’t get that opportunity all that often, and had a reputation as a fairly stubborn and eccentric individual. She had two incidents with guns. In one, she shot at a record executive who she thought owed her royalties, and in another, she wounded a neighbor’s son because his laughing was disturbing her concentration. She fled the United States after being involved in the Civil Rights movement and had a manager/ex-husband screw up her finances, which landed her some pretty difficult tax problems. Simone eventually settled in France, where she died in 2003. I understand there is movie project attached with Mary J. Blige, but whether it gets made or not is anybody’s guess.

Most folks probably don’t have a lot of recollection of her work because the majority of her output was between 1957 and 1980. She did release material until her death, but it was infrequent. Remixed & Reimagined takes her vocals and songs and puts them in the hands of some hot shot DJs and producers to be reworked. This is an interesting experiment, with some mixed results. Her voice is distinctive, husky and powerful, but not necessarily full of range. Her singing, although well respected historically, is an acquired taste. The acid jazz and house mixes around her vocals are sometimes fun as “I Can’t See Nobody” which has a “Sympathy for the Devil” bass line kind of feel and “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life” which accents a fabulous horn section. “To Love Somebody” is sparse but the drum track is very danceable.

Some of the tracks do drone on a bit as remix records sometimes do. I suppose if you are in a club and tripping on X, you would enjoy that kind of monotony. I don’t club or trip on X, so I would have preferred some of them to be trimmed a bit. “Save Me” is 6:35, “Turn Me On” is 7:48 and “Here Comes the Sun” (yes, the Beatles song) is 8:57, which really seems to drag.

For the most part the experiment does work and has some really interesting moments. This project is cool, but not without flaws. It is worthy of a listen or two, but you might want to check out Ms. Simone in an anthology to get a feel for how these songs have changed and been morphed for this collection.

~R. David Smola