Review Summary: Nina Simone bewitching with her, perharps, most concise record.
'I put a spell on you' is certainly one of the most famous albums by Nina Simone, American pianist and singer known for her especially emotional interpretations on a varied range of styles going from a more soul touch, through jazz and blues. By Its very diversified nature, this album is one of my favorites by her, it can be harsh and strong on some moments, and then very subtle and soft in others. It's truly a masterpiece in many senses.
Nina Simone is not delivering some virtuous range of screaming vocals, or some epic structured experimental effort, the thing here is more focused in the soft nuances among the notes, the fragile melodies and the singular tone of her voice. Even this way, she can sing very loud and emotional when the song asks for it. It's also very to important to stress her skills on piano as very high point in this album, just hear the final part of 'Tomorrow Is My Turn' or on the instrumental jazzy oriented tune 'Blues On Purpose'. What we got here are truly amazing performances of, I got to say, some of the most inspired tracks I’ve heard in long time.
'I put a spell on you' is a famous song, with many versions, including artists like Diamanda Galas and Marilyn Manson, and composed by the crazy jazz man Screamin' Jay Hawkins. I have, however, no fear to say Nina Simone is the best interpreter of this song, it has very impressive arrangements and beautiful vocal interpretation, giving it a more serious and dramatic sensation than the original, which is some kind of dramatic and sarcastic circus experience.
Another strong version included in this album is 'Ne Me Quitte Pas' a very famous French song wrote by Jacques Brel. Nina Simone interpretation, again here, leads the lyricism included on the song to perfection. It's the saddest song of the album and perhaps again, the best version of an incredible famous music.
I could highlight almost every song in this album, it feels complete with emotional ballads filled with beautiful melodies, strong piano harmonies and Nina Simone famous onomatopoeia improvisation in songs ends. 'July Tree' is the softest and most sensitive song on the album, while songs like 'One September Day' and 'You've Got To Learn' bring love themes as very inspired ballads. At the same time, this has strong blues and jazzy songs, with very inspired lyrics, as the women liberation-like themes on 'Marriage Is For Old Folks' and 'Gimme Some'. Here is a woman that used to suffer from domestic violence, singing wonderfully and with a very sense of fun about living in freedom. I got to enjoy this.
But, there is no way here to not point out some tunes, being 'Feeling Good' the most unforgettable music on the album. What we got here is a perfect song, by its definition, with Nina Simone singing alone in the beginning one of the most inspired lines I ever heard: “Birds flyin' high you know how I feel / Sun in the sky you know how I feel”. After that, the song explodes, with her band doing a close to perfection work, the brass riff is unforgettable so as Nina Simone interpretation. Truly a classic. 'Take Care Of Business', the last of song, is another remarkable moment of inspired beauty and strong vocals. There are castanets, a choir and a flamenco influenced rhythm, like if some pagan Spanish caravan had come inside a church, playing as a rhythm section for Nina Simone's somewhat gospel interpretation.
'I put a spell on you' is truly a masterpiece, and it's very close to be Nina Simone's best record, at least her most concise effort, I found it to be indispensable for any music fan, especially for who are on blues and jazz such as female vocals. C'mon! Just get it!