Nina Simone has the rare ability of really being able to dig into material and bring out unexpected meaning in familiar lyrics. On "Just in Time" from this set, she gives one the impression that if she had not been found "Just in Time," she would have committed suicide. During "He Was Too Good to Me," Simone sounds absolutely stunned about the end of a love affair. "Brown Baby" is both hopeful and defiant in its call for freedom, while "Zungo" is an African work song. Also from her 1961 trio performance at the Village Gate, Simone performs the overly serious "If He Changed My Name," the good-time gospel piece "Children Go Where I Send You," a regretful rendition of "House of the Rising Sun," and an unpredictable instrumental version of "Bye Bye Blackbird." Nina Simone, who was always in a category by herself, is heard throughout in her early prime.
AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow