Nina Simone - I Put A Spell On You (Vinyl)

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'I Put a Spell on You' is the 1965 album by Nina Simone, and features some of her best known songs. 'I Put a Spell on You' is a song originally by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The original version gave the song an ironic theme, but Simone transformed it into a thrilling love song, complete with horns and strings. It had become one of her most well-known songs.

Listen to the violins on the title track, they are just so 1960s. Or the next track, when the brass comes in, sounding like the music on a James Bond theme song: again it could come from nowhere but the 1960s. And so it is with the rest of the album. Not the 1960s of The Beatles or Bob Dylan, the 1960s of an older generation, who might be changing some of their behaviour, but whose musical tastes were formed in a pre-Rock era. Does this make the music dated? The idea that everything must be new and the old is dispensable is a market driven idea – that music from the 1960s sounds as though it comes from the 1960s is natural: the question is whether the arrangements use the conventions of the time in enterprising or individual ways or whether they are just full of the clichés of the time. I think the arrangements on this album tend towards the latter. (Although Hal Mooney’s arrangements, which include the title track, are stronger than Horace Ott’s.) Is the choice of songs eclectic or eccentric? Personally I find them a strange hodgepodge: some Broadway show tunes, some French tunes (Jacques Brel’s Ne me quitte pas sung in French), some R&B – but they are mostly weak. Nina Simone’s piano can sometimes be heard tinkling in the background, but generally it is drowned out by the orchestra. The exception is the jazzy instrumental Blues On Purpose which is jolly but also further evidence that Simone wasn’t a particularly interesting jazz pianist. And for me all Simone’s vocal mannerism sound too much like mannerisms: the warble in the voice does not create emotion as it can, but is just a sentimental gesture towards emotion. But the title track is wonderful: here her voice is powerful and impassioned. But does the stringency of her voice create an emotional counterpoint to the lushness of the strings, or do the strings dampen her voice down to the level of pleasing Las Vegas show? At least we can ask the question about this track, for the rest light entertainment wins out.

By: Onethink

A1 I Put A Spell On You
A2 Tomorrow Is My Turn
A3 Ne Me Quitte Pas
A4 Marriage Is For Old Folks
A5 July Tree
A6 Gimme Some
B1 Feeling Good
B2 One September Day
B3 Blues On Purpose
B4 Beautiful Land
B5 You've Got To Learn
B6 Take Care Of Business

Catalogue Number:  PHS 600-172

Record Label:  Philips