Nina Simone – 1966 – High Priestess Of Soul

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A much more upbeat record from Simone than we’re used to, although a more upbeat Nina Simone is still a fairly calm, reserved figure. 

Some of the jumped-up moments are pretty excellent -the Ray Charles-esque “I’m Gonna Leave You“, the cover of “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” – but the record peaks on its two most spectral moments, the spritiual and minimal “Come Ye” and the portentous and insidious “Keeper of the Flame”.  The latter of those two must be considered a career highlight for her, it’s incredible. 

You’d probably struggle to pain this as an essential part of Simone’s story when it competes with records like Wild is the WindPastel Blues, and Jazz as Played in an Exclusive Side Street Club , but if you ever find yourself as completely ensnared by her music as I have recently, this is a pretty good stop-off.

Tracks
A1 Don’t You Pay Them No Mind 3:00
A2 I’m Gonna Leave You 2:17
A3 Brown Eyed Handsome Man 2:01
A4 Keeper of the Flame 3:20
A5 The Gal From Joe’s 2:42
A6 Take Me to the Water 2:49
A7 I’m Going Back Home 2:47
B1 I Hold No Grudge 2:18
B2 Come Ye 3:35
B3 He Ain’t Comin’ Home No More 3:09
B4 Work Song 3:04
B5 I Love My Baby 4:03

By bron31

Taking its title from the moniker bestowed upon the artist by her fans, High Priestess of Soul is Nina Simone’s final album for Philips, recorded in New York City during August 1966. It is one of the lighter Philips-era albums, with an accessible and quite commercial band sound featuring orchestral arrangements by Hal Mooney, but the album is not only devoted to “soul” material. 

The sweet “Don’t You Pay Them No Mind” is one of the album’s highlights, an inspiring and optimistic ode to a lover, while the up-tempo “I’m Gonna Leave You” is a successful number penned by Simone’s guitarist Rudy Stevenson. She also tackles lighter material, such as Chuck Berry’s R&B hit “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” and another fast-tempo Stevenson number, “I’m Going Back Home“. Simone is also equally adept at swinging jazz numbers, such as “The Gal from Joe’s“, originally recorded for Simone’s 1962 Colpix album Nina Simone Sings Ellington, and “Work Song“, which first appeared on 1961’s Forbidden Fruit. 

But the real heart of the record features some intimate, sophisticated songs: the extraordinarily sensual “Keeper of the Flame“, with an exotic woodwind hook, is serene and sultry with an excellent vocal performance from Simone, while the gospel-influenced “Take Me to the Water“, featuring a backing choir, is simple, pared-down, and Godly.

Another highlight is the minimalist African-accented “Come Ye” where Simone’s deep, brooding vocals are at their sexiest. The album is also home to the regular quota of smoky ballads, with the emotive “I Hold No Grudge” particularly successful.

At 33 and with a ten-year career behind her, High Priestess of Soul finds Nina Simone comfortable in a range of styles, from pop to R&B and soul to blues to gospel. As ever, as an album it is not especially consistent but the diversity and high-quality performances and arrangements make up for some of the unevenness. It is a fitting end to a seven-album run for the Philips label in which Simone recorded a number of her most iconic songs and highlighted how adept she was at performing in a range of styles and settings.

 

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14 Comments
  • amel
    Posted at 19:31h, 30 July 2019 Reply

    woo….the quality continues! Thanks! Some real nice tunes on here.

  • Bacara
    Posted at 19:43h, 30 July 2019 Reply

    im luvin this album.. very smooth keep up the good work

  • Mark
    Posted at 22:15h, 30 July 2019 Reply

    This music takes me to time i wish i lived…Thanks god people like you make it possible.

  • Brian
    Posted at 10:13h, 31 July 2019 Reply

    Simply WONDERFUL

  • Olivia
    Posted at 10:15h, 31 July 2019 Reply

    Wow gave me chills. I Love You Ms. Simone💖💋

  • Lara
    Posted at 11:45h, 02 August 2019 Reply

    I used to listen to it with my older sister. A legend.

  • Natasha
    Posted at 12:01h, 02 August 2019 Reply

    sad that i never am able to see her live

  • Jimmy
    Posted at 18:29h, 02 August 2019 Reply

    Just Awesome. Looking for more… Thanks a lot.

  • Nora
    Posted at 19:49h, 04 August 2019 Reply

    This’ll never die 😍😍

  • Joselima
    Posted at 19:50h, 04 August 2019 Reply

    Musica eterna.

  • Paolo
    Posted at 20:18h, 04 August 2019 Reply

    Nina Simone was THE HIGH PRIESTESS OF SOUL!

  • mIGUEL
    Posted at 08:57h, 05 August 2019 Reply

    i love this music , for ever and ever.

  • Erol
    Posted at 10:45h, 06 August 2019 Reply

    So much soul

  • Costa
    Posted at 18:38h, 07 August 2019 Reply

    What a talented woman

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