Nina Simone

Angel of the Morning: The Best of Nina Simone

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Angel of the Morning, issued in the EU by Camden Deluxe, is, for all practical purposes, a solid collection of Nina Simone's recordings for RCA, covering the years 1966-1974. These years are not critically regarded as her best -- those are usually reserved for her Colpix and Philips recordings. To the enthusiastic or even new listener to Simone's artistry, that distinction means little. This is representative of a period in which Simone was riding the charts, and making an impact on audiences all over the world not only for her jazz and blues material -- which included many originals as well as covers and spirituals -- but also for her unique and even iconoclastic interpretations of then contemporary popular songs such as Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles," Bob Dylan's "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," and the title tune, written by Chip Taylor. There are numerous songs that are regarded as Simone's standards in the package as well, including "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" and "Backlash Blues." Some of her best-known performances are songs she cut several times in her long career. And while some of these are not the original versions, these are excellent performances nonetheless. Check her readings of two tunes from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess for evidence in "I Loves You, Porgy" and "My Man's Gone Now." Given the price and the solid remastering, this is as good an introduction to Nina Simone's work as any.

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