Simone recorded prolifically during her affiliation with Colpix in the late '50s and early '60s. This 40-song, two-CD set presents choice extracts from approximately ten albums worth of material. It isn't quite as impressive as what she recorded for Philips in the mid-'60s, sticking to a more pop- and light jazz-based approach, and not mining blues and soul nearly as heavily. She was also writing hardly any of her own tunes, and had yet to fully expound upon issues of black pride and social justice. These are ultimately minor quibbles; it's a fine set, in which Simone already demonstrates commanding vocals and a wide-ranging stylistic base that incorporates material by Duke Ellington, Rodgers & Hart, Billie Holiday, Nat Adderley, "House of the Rising Sun," and even a Hebrew tune. It also has three non-LP cuts, including the self-penned, African-tinged "Blackbird," and "Come on Back, Jack," an answer record to Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack." By the way, this doesn't make the single-disc Colpix Years CD on Roulette totally redundant, as that release has half a dozen tracks which don't appear on this anthology.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2