12 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Like many of Nina Simone’s mid-‘60s recordings The High Priestess of Soul is a dazzlingly eclectic showcase for Simone’s incomparable interpretive and compositional talents. In its wide-ranging stylistic diversity, it functions as a personal history of Afircan-American song, relayed from Simone to the listener. She injects the melodramatic, string drenched arrangements of standards like “I Love My Baby” and “I’m Gonna Leave You” with a sense of emotional vulnerability that deconstructs the smooth veneer of more polished balladeers like Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington, who Simone doubtless looked to for inspiration. Her willfully eccentric performances ensure that even when she is paying tribute to the influence of a master, as on her rollicking take on Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” she does so on her own terms. Though the material here is uniformly strong, Simone’s impassioned, gospel-tinged compositions “Take Me to The Water” and “Come Ye” are the albums high point; particularly the spare but propulsive “Come Ye,” that sees Nina Simone delivering incantatory verses over deliberately unhinged percussion. Perhaps the strongest album that Simone released during her tenure at Phillips, The High Priestess of Soul is a stunning transitional work that sees her staking claim to her rich musical inheritance.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Like many of Nina Simone’s mid-‘60s recordings The High Priestess of Soul is a dazzlingly eclectic showcase for Simone’s incomparable interpretive and compositional talents. In its wide-ranging stylistic diversity, it functions as a personal history of Afircan-American song, relayed from Simone to the listener. She injects the melodramatic, string drenched arrangements of standards like “I Love My Baby” and “I’m Gonna Leave You” with a sense of emotional vulnerability that deconstructs the smooth veneer of more polished balladeers like Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington, who Simone doubtless looked to for inspiration. Her willfully eccentric performances ensure that even when she is paying tribute to the influence of a master, as on her rollicking take on Chuck Berry’s “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” she does so on her own terms. Though the material here is uniformly strong, Simone’s impassioned, gospel-tinged compositions “Take Me to The Water” and “Come Ye” are the albums high point; particularly the spare but propulsive “Come Ye,” that sees Nina Simone delivering incantatory verses over deliberately unhinged percussion. Perhaps the strongest album that Simone released during her tenure at Phillips, The High Priestess of Soul is a stunning transitional work that sees her staking claim to her rich musical inheritance.

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