Nina Simone

Destiny

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Destiny is practically a reissue of Nina Simone's 1987 Live & Kickin (the tracks are the same but some of the order has been changed), recorded during the 1985 tour that reintroduced the singer to the world after a long sabbatical. This 2006 Arts Records International release reminds fans just how good a live performer Simone was. She doesn't talk much here, which of course is in part due to editing, but you get the impression that that's how she wanted it. She wanted to show everyone her music. So she sticks instead to singing, leading her band, and playing the piano, all of which she does very well, and all of which you can practically hear the audience begging for. Her dynamic stage presence is felt even in a purely audio format as she attacks some of her biggest hits ("Mississippi Goddam," "I Loves You Porgy," "My Baby Just Cares for Me") as well as a few newer ones ("For a While," where her voice is surprisingly shaky, and "I Sing Just to Know That I'm Alive") head-on. Destiny's version of "Four Women" is especially good, with a slightly funkier left-hand piano line than the original and a rock-inspired drumbeat that works really well, giving an already poignant and affecting song even more groove and soul. If Simone was trying to show that despite her absence she hadn't lost anything, well, she certainly proved it. And for anyone who might have forgotten just how good she was, Destiny is a very good reminder.

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