A Very Rare Evening
A couple of years ago I paid a princely sum for a rather unusual CD reissue (manufactured in New Jersey but created for the Japanese market, complete with Japanese liner notes) of the aptly titled Rare Evening. Then, as now, I considered it money extremely well spent. Though the Simone catalog overflows with live recordings, this 1969 German concert outranks all others.
Focusing almost exclusively on then-contemporary material--the Gibb brothers' "In the Morning" and "To Love Somebody," Randy Newman's "I Think It's Going to Rain Today," Aretha Franklin's "Save Me," the Byrds' "Turn! Turn! Turn!"--Simone is at her most assuredly earthy and intrepidly regal. Fortunately, anyone can now add this gem to his or her library without having to shell out a king's ransom. This domestic pressing (also from New Jersey) sounds very nearly as good as the import, at a fraction of the price.