'Nuff Said

'Nuff Said

“I hope that we can provide some kind of something…whatever it is that you need tonight,” Nina Simone says on “Sunday in Savannah,” an early number from 1968’s ’Nuff Said! The track was recorded live at the Westbury Music Festival on April 7, 1968, three days after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (the next day, Simone would go to Atlanta to attend his funeral). ’Nuff Said! serves as a document of that somber, unplanned tribute concert, with three other tracks—a pair of Bee Gees covers and a medley from Hair—added later, possibly in an attempt to replicate the international success of Simone’s rendition of “To Love Somebody.” Those foils, though, don’t keep the album from documenting the grief, the rage, and the anguish of that horrific moment in the late 1960s. If overflowing emotion was already one of Simone’s trademarks, ’Nuff Said! somehow takes her gift for the evocative to new heights, particularly on the sprawling centerpiece “Why? (The King Of Love Is Dead).” The song was composed by Simone’s bassist Gene Taylor in the wake of King’s death, and was originally released at about half its current length. The ’Nuff Said! version, though, spans heartbreaking elegy, a bluesy call to action, expansive lament, and extended monologue. It’s a full-scale drama all on its own. The homage continues with Simone’s iconic protest song “Mississippi Goddam,” her political rebuke “Backlash Blues”—based on a Langston Hughes poem—and the concert’s conclusion, the canonical gospel hymn “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” “If you have been moved at all, and you know my songs at all, for God’s sake, join me,” Simone tells the crowd, imploring them to act. ’Nuff Said! is as vital a document of the aftermath of a national tragedy as exists—a musical interpretation of simmering discontent that Simone shared with typical fearlessness.

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