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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Nina Simone
Remixed & Re-Imagined

Rating: 8/10 ?

November 14, 2006
Nina Simone deserved her title of High Priestess of Soul, with soul being much more than a genre of music. Beyond her reputation as a phenomenal artist, Simone was also a passionate civil rights activist who eventually left the United States in the 1970s due to her political disillusionment. On Remixed & Re-Imagined, Simone is transformed from conscious activist and soul goddess into the High Priestess of Electronica, her voice melding nearly seamlessly with the talents of today's electronic music scene. Many of the usual suspects contributed to this collection, including François K, Groovefinder, Tony Humphries, and Coldcut. Remixed & Re-Imagined is a new venture from Legacy, a series of remixed albums presenting classic Legacy artists "re-imagined" for the modern world. Simone is the first experiment in this series and, for the most part, her powerful spirit fits nicely into the electronic landscapes that surround her voice.

I imagine listening to these songs while lounging on a plush velvet couch, sipping martinis in some dark New York City nightclub, then shuffling over to the dance floor to groove the night away. I could have done the same years ago, too, as it was common to hear Simone's original songs in the old school clubs of the 1970s. On Remixed & Re-Imagined, Simone's deep, seductive voice mixes perfectly with the pulsing electronic beats. Daniel Y's rendition of "I Can't See Nobody" is superb. The song selections are drawn from Simone's seven years with RCA Records, which included classics such as "To Love Somebody," "Here Comes the Sun," and "O-o-oh Child," all of which are featured on this collection in remixed fashion.

Despite the strength of the individual tracks, there is no real continuity here, with little flow to the record. The collection feels uneven. The songs vary from heavy house to jungle to funk, with little cohesiveness between the tracks. Another problem with this effort is the juxtaposition of Simone's lyrics and voice with the electronic foreground. On the surface, the mix is great. But Simone's lyrics, almost always political, seem somehow misplaced amongst the pounding beats and synthesized chords of these remixes. Electronic music has never been tremendously political, so there's a strange dynamic at work here. It's not that the songs don't work, only that the Simone's lyrics are less impressive in this setting, as the dance vibe detracts from the seriousness of her original music. Jazz and soul evoke certain emotions, while dance music evokes others. This is the quandary with a collection such as this.

Remixed & Re-Imagined is definitely worth a spin. The collection has the potential to introduce a new audience to the wonders of Nina Simone, albeit in a different atmosphere than the musical world she dominated. But Simone was a diverse artist, inhabiting the varied realms of jazz, rhythm and blues, and soul, among others, and so there's little reason to believe that she wouldn't be comfortable experimenting in the world of electronica. Fans of dance music won't find anything startling here, but the remixes are good enough to spend an evening grooving to. Ultimately, though, Nina Simone doesn't need to be either remixed or re-imagined. She was a high priestess just the way she was.

Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Eric J. Morgan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Colorado. He has an orange cat named Nelson and longs for the day when men and women will again dress in three-piece suits and pretty dresses to indulge in three-martini lunches and afternoon affairs.

See other reviews by Eric J. Morgan



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