I’ve listened to a lot of Nina Simone – compilations and albums – and there are so many gems still to find. I had never, until this challenge, heard Wild Is The Wind (the album). I know the song, of course and many of the songs on here, but this album is still pretty wonderful and important to hear as a whole. It speaks to just what a dynamic writer/performer/interpreter Simone was. Jazz and gospel, ballads and stompers, a bit of R’n’B here, some whimsy there, then something dark, stark, confronting. Sometime she moved through moods and musical genres in one song, certainly she made uneasy bedfellows of songs that never quite deserved to be tucked up next to each other – the only constant, the only consistent thing: that voice.
It seems crazy – now – to think of Simone as being any sort of hard-sell. You imagine an artist arriving on the scene today with this much star-talent, this much material, the range, the ability, the agility and you would just straightaway and always think superstar.
She had it tough. And didn’t help herself all that much along the way. This album is a collection of then previously unreleased recordings over a few years – some live, some studio. So it’s a bit of a ‘sneak’ to call it an album in that sense. But, fuck that, what an album it is. A masterpiece. And just one of many that Simone created in her lifetime.