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The Nina Simone Database
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Gifted & Black + Live at Berkeley
Additional discography
 
 

Charly SNAP 300 (2009 UK)

Tracks sorted by number (sort by session or by title)
 1 [3:06] Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair   Traditional with strings added

 2 [3:57] Since My Love Has Gone   Aaron Neville, Wasserman with strings added

 3 [4:36] Blue Prelude   Joe Bishop, Gordon Jenkins with strings added

 4 [4:19] Spring Is Here   Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers with strings added

 5 [3:59] I Loves You Porgy   George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward with strings added

 6 [3:41] Remind Me   Dorothy Fields, Jerome Kern with strings added

 7 [4:22] Near to You   Richard Adler, Jerry Ross with strings added

 8 [5:32] The Thrill Is Gone   Lew Brown, Ray Henderson with strings added

 9 [5:00] Ain't Got No / I Got Life   Gal MacDermot, James Rado, Gerome Ragni

 10 [8:55] Four Women   Nina Simone

 11 [5:00] No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed   Richie Havens

 12 [3:20] Backlash Blues   Langston Hughes, Nina Simone

 13 [7:13] The Assignment Song-Sequence   Jan Hendin 4:55 plus dialog

 14 [6:00] To Be Young, Gifted and Black   Weldon Irvine jr, Nina Simone

Liner Notes by Clive Anderson

This 2009 Snapper two-fer combines two ultra-rare Nina Simone LPs from the early '70s, GIFTED & BLACK and LIVE AT BERKELEY, originally released on the private Stroud imprint, which was run by her then-husband Andrew Stroud. Whether these recordings were an attempt to circumvent Simone's obligations to RCA Records, her label at the time, or were themselves bootlegs unauthorized even by the artist herself is still unclear. Add the fact that the sound on both albums is decidedly lo-fi, and the question of their actual value within the larger Nina Simone discography looms large.

No matter since 1971's [sic] GIFTED & BLACK is something of a lost cabaret masterpiece. Here the singer revisits some of her signature tunes like "Black Is The Color Of My True Love" and "I Loves You, Porgy" with a small string section as accompaniment in addition her piano and extra percussion. Simone also sings songs like Gordon Jenkin's "Blue Prelude," Rodgers & Hart's "Spring Is Here," and Jerome Kern's "Remind Me" as if she was channeling the great cabaret artist Mabel Mercer, reminding us that apart from her deserved reputation as a socially significant African-American artist, Nina Simone was also an outstanding interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Lest we forget, the 1970 [sic] album LIVE AT BERKELEY brings us straight back to the blunt and familiar politically minded artist. How could it not, since the Berkeley campus in the early '70s was such a hotbed of anti-Vietnam sentiment and the songs performed here, including "Ain't Got No/I Got Life" from Hair, "Four Women," and the soon-to-be classic "To Be Young, Gifted & Black," partake of the political ferment that was in the air. They are not screeds, however; the band plays with a funky conga-propelled ease, and Simone is thoroughly in her element, relaxed and having fun as she gets her message across.

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Digitally remastered release containing a pair of albums from the Jazz diva on one CD: Live At Berkeley (1970) and Gifted & Black (1971). Both albums were originally released on her then husband/producer/mentor's Stroud label in the early '70s, at a time when she was at the peak of her considerable powers. Recorded in studios in California, Gifted & Black comprises eight songs, four of which are hard-to-come-by original recordings. The other four are fascinating re-workings of songs Simone had recorded in earlier years including 'Black Is The Colour', 'The Thrill Is Gone' and her first hit 'I Loves You, Porgy'. Live At Berkeley was recorded at the University of California in Berkeley, October, 1969 and features versions of six classic Simone tracks including 'To Be Young, Gifted And Black', 'Backlash Blues' and 'Ain't Got No/I Got Life'.