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Nina Simone: Let It Be Me

This Simone concert marked her debut appearance in Quebec, recorded July 18, 1980, at Montreal’s Place des Arts. Though it dates from one of the most interesting periods in Simone’s turbulent history, a decade or so into her self-imposed exile from the U.S., this curiously short disc-seven tracks, 33 minutes-is easily overshadowed by such far superior sessions as Nina Simone at Town Hall, At Newport, At Carnegie Hall, At the Village Gate and Live at Ronnie Scott’s, all easily obtainable on CD. Then there’s the crème de la Simone crème: A Very Rare Evening, recorded in Europe in April 1969, and available as a pricey Japanese import that’s worth every penny. Here, despite noble efforts to banter with the audience in French, Simone seems strangely distracted and needy, seeming to beg the crowd for approbation. Also, the majority of the songs have been captured better elsewhere particularly her signature “Mississippi Goddam” from Carnegie Hall in ’64 and the Hair medley “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life” as exquisitely performed on Rare Evening.

Originally Published