Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nina Simone - It Is Finished...1974

It Is Finished...1974
Nina Simone
RCA Records, 1974

Track List:

Side A:
The Pusher
Com' by H'yere-Good Lord
Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter
Mr. Bojangles

Side B:
I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl
Let It Be Me
Obeah Woman

Nina Simone was a legend. One part activist, one part artist, Simone took the kinds of risks and stances during and after the civil rights movement that seem so rare these days. Her stage shows were the stuff of legend…flying from full blown howl to dead silence, incorporating poetry and monologues, and always displaying her commanding presence. She equated her performances to “mass hypnosis” or if you’re feeling corny you could say she put a spell on the audience. Jesus, that was a terrible joke. Anyhow, The High Priestess could rock a clapping, soulful gospel jam or whisper her way through a sultry jazz ballad, all while showcasing her considerable chops on the piano and captivate the listener all the while.

“It is Finished…1974” was her final album for RCA and for all intents and purposes was to be her final album ever. Simone had grown disillusioned by the record industry and the USA in general and was about to commit herself to a self imposed exile. But before that, she was able to drop this final gem in our laps. Partially recorded live @ Philharmonic Hall in NYC, “It is Finished…” showcases Simone’s live skills. “Com’ by H’Yere – Good Lord” (or kumbaya, for the campfire inclined) has her rollicking in a spiritual mood. Contrast that with the bombast and anger on the next track, “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter”, and you get the feeling of being on a rollercoaster. “Funkier…” is a pure groove…it contains one of the best B-Boy drum breaks I’ve ever heard and Simone’s vocal turn is all venom and hiss, her delivery pushed by some brilliant percussion throughout. On her standard, “I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl”, you get to see some of Simone’s playful side and her great use of silence as she stumps her bandmates with a little stop in her piano line…It’s a fun version of her classic, fun being something that Simone was rarely accused of being. Then, with some ominous piano rolls and a sitar, Simone then haunts her way through Exuma’s “Dambala”. The raw, stripped down arrangement exudes a vibe not unlike a voodoo curse. Simone condemns you to your grave with such ferocity that you feel the dirt. Definitely spooky, evocative, and indicative of Simone’s ability to rapt a live audience. The first time I heard this version of “Dambala”, I got goose bumps for sure.

Legendary/Tragic Aspect: Nina Simone got pissed at two of her neighbor kids making too much noise and fired off a round of buckshot at them.

Availability: Easy to Find

RIYL: Music.

1 comment:

EtN said...

Thank you for your good blog. I post this Nina Simone's album too.
See you soon on it !!?