Friday, March 02, 2012

Say what?!

The boot fair season is almost upon us once again. A regular haunt of mine fires into action again tomorrow. That will no doubt herald the return of winter weather!

At least a couple of boot fairs in my parish have in fact kept going throughout the winter. Unfortunately they charge £1 for parking so it puts me off going too frequently, that and the freezing mornings, where I find the fingers just can’t perform the riffle!

I did go to one of these last weekend, though, and it had the feel of a new season about it. The unseasonably warm weather had obviously encouraged plenty of sellers (and buyers). There were quite a few boxes of records to go through too and I secured a few good purchases. For much of the time I was rubbing shoulders with a particular fellow digger, and someone I had come across before. She is a digger with a difference – she is buying vinyl so she can make cake stands! That’s a pretty cool idea I think.

All albums were 50p and singles were 25p which was good, and here is one of the purchases.   

Where do I start with this one? It’s a bit of an oddball.

I have a handful of Nina Simone records, and I like her and respect her as an artist. From her initial love of classical piano, her involvement in the civil rights movement in the Sixties, and her often uncompromising live performances, Nina always came across as a very serious woman. So to find this album entitled “Nina’s Back” with a cover shot of …er… Nina’s back (at least I assume it is Nina on the cover) is a bit of a surprise. Then we have the small detail of the release number of this album. It was originally issued in the US on VPI in 1985. My copy is a UK release from 1989 on the Jungle label with the release number Freud 28. Why? Well, why not, I suppose.

Now to turn to what’s in the grooves. I was hoping against hope that, although recorded in the 80s, the unmistakable 80s production sound might be absent from this record. It was a vain hope.  The album is split into a “party side” and a “mellow side”. I thought I would play the mellow side first as I think of Nina as more suited to mellow songs. In truth I couldn’t get through it. I needle dropped, and wherever I did I found twee and vapid, 80s style arrangements and Nina, to my ears at least, not sounding good at all. So to the party side. I can’t imagine how Nina was coaxed into the studio to perform songs set to an 80s dancefloor backdrop. The mix is pretty strange too, with Nina and her piano way back in the mix – perhaps the engineers were trying to hide her thin vocals.

But nevertheless the album does have a few redeeming features. The background vocals are provided by The Waters, and they are invariably excellent. Then there are the last two tracks on side one which I actually really like. I was going to feature “Touching And Caring” which is one of those songs that immediately gets into a groove and just bowls along until finally it breaks down into a gloriously loose vampy long outro. But you can find that for yourself on YouTube, unlike the track I am going to feature which is the closer to side 1. “You Must Have Another Lover” is something to get you dancing around the kitchen table on a Friday night. Nina Simone like you have never heard her before I suggest.       

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