Saturday, June 20, 2009


This was supposed to be a review of Robert Fripp's 'Exposure' album, I pulled it out of a newly un-arranged stack of records at random and put it on. I got it from 'Vinyl Resting Place' in Portland last September, couple of spindle marks aside it looks pretty much unplayed, sadly the entire thing sounds like somebody has an open fire going in the studio whilst it's being recorded so that one's going to have to wait. Another random finger peck at the row of plastic sleeves pulled out a copy of this: Nina Simone 'I Put a Spell on You.' A perfect Sunday morning album... On a Saturday afternoon.

So when I first heard the voice of Nina Simone I was convinced it was a man, I think it was her version of 'Fly Me To The Moon', the song was being used on some car advert or other some years back. Anyway, this being the pre-internet age I asked somebody older and wiser than me who the singer was. It wasn't until I confirmed this with a flick through the racks of some record store or other that I even came close to believing him, even then part of me remained convinced I was dealing with a man in a wig.

'I Put a Spell on You' is a nice little album, it's hugely naive sounding but beautifully recorded and tight in a way that people don't seem to be able to replicate nowadays, could be because it's a mono pressing. I wish I remembered where I got my copy from. its The problem is that knowing what Nina's voice is actually capable of it seems woefully underused on the majority of the albums tracks, that said it's unfair to expect anything else from the early sixties and the fact that it is so easy to listen to should be part of the album's charm.

The two highlights here are the album's title track and 'Feeling Good', by far the best version of this song that I am aware of. 'Beautiful Land' also qualifies for a special mention, firstly for the strings and secondly because Nina manages to sound at least partially retarded throughout. She genuinely sounds like a special needs kid in a singing competition gunning for the first prize of a trip to Disney Land. And that sir, is no bad thing.

Anyway, the major issue, for me at least is now leaving the house and doing anything even remotely constructive with the remainder of my Saturday, my brain is now fixed in Sunday mode and expecting a roast dinner followed by a screening of 'Goodbye Mr Chips'. Still, plus point is I can do this all over again tomorrow, maybe it's George Shearing and Nancy Wilson's turn then, nice bit of 'On Green Dolphin Street' while I eat ravioli and pretend its a side of beef with roast potatoes and vegetables swimming in gravy.

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