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The Nina Simone Database

Sings the Blues
Original discography

RCA Victor LPM/LSP 3789 (1967 US)

Nina's first album with RCA.

Listen to this album on YouTube.

See all releases of this album.
Tracks sorted by number (sort by session or by title)
 1 [2:46] Do I Move You?   Nina Simone

 2 [2:34] Day and Night   Rudy Stevenson

 3 [2:56] Romance in the Dark   Lil Green listed "In the Dark"

 4 [2:20] Real Real   Nina Simone

 5 [4:14] My Man's Gone Now   George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward

 6 [2:29] Backlash Blues   Langston Hughes, Nina Simone

 7 [2:32] I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl   Tim Brymn, Dally Small, Clarence Williams

 8 [1:50] Buck   Andy Stroud

 9 [2:50] Since I Fell for You   Buddy Johnson

 10 [3:52] House of the Rising Sun   Traditional

 11 [3:58] Blues for Mama   Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone

Liner notes by Sid McCoy
Creative people are, in the main, individualists, and in our business – jazz and its related offshoots – there seems to be a direct relation between creative ability and the determination to "be myself." Nina Simone is an individualist of the highest sort.
Here she is, a tremendous artist accurately reproducing native blues in a most compelling fashion. There are no mannerisms. Affectation never enters the picture. There is no hiding behind big bands, studied arrangements or audio effects. Miss Simone simply sings – with heart at all times, with guts on certain tunes and with abandon on everything. She has wisely kept accompaniment to the small unit, which provides her with an authentic cushion of rhythm and impetus. The musicians merely echo the emotion and inflection of the artist.
These tunes are not the ones we hear on the top forty, nor are they sung by the dilettante jazz singer who does a novelty blues album. They are songs of the soil, of the people and of their troubles.
Here Miss Simone enters that world briefly, but her admission was earned and she has not violated the essence of either the people or the music. What we have here is an acceptable artist really giving it to us about the most unacceptable pangs of life.
She really moves on 'Do I Move You?' Hear her ask the question with that peculiar mixture of humility and saucy arrogance. 'Day and Night' is another free roller.
The old-timers who undulated on the wartime dance floors during the forties will instantly remember the slow-moving 'In the Dark.' Listen to Miss Simone's treatment and reminisce a little.
'Real Real' is a free, secular adaptation of a foot-stomping ole spiritual 'He's So Real to Me.' The meter is the same. The tempo is unchanged and Miss Simone builds to a fevered pitch.
The music of "Porgy and Bess" often finds its way into the repertoire of the jazz artist. 'My Man's Gone Now' is one of the plaintive melodies that taxes the emotional capacity of the best vocalists, Miss Simone adds to its impact by handling the tune with simplicity and feeling.*
Nina Simone would not be Nina without her moments of magnificent outrage and passionate protest. Hear 'Backlash Blues.' It's a scathing, heated comment on the socio-political times in which we toil.
'I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl' is one of those suggestive tunes successfully employing double-entendre. This most commonplace practice of early blues has lost much of its originality over the years. Miss Simone harks back to Bessie Smith and early Dinah Washington, two of the most proficient vocalists at this game.
'Buck' is the shortest tune in the album, but in many ways the most powerful. It is a man's name, an animal, a sound, a veritable explosion.
If you remember 'In the Dark,' you'll remember 'Since I Fell for You.' Not since Bull Moose's poignant howling has this old tune sounded so mellow.
Some may believe 'The House of the Rising Sun' is a ringer here. Be cool and listen again. The spirited tune with flying rhythms holds a kind of magnetic charm. It crackles with the mysticism and compulsion of blind faith and true believing. Miss Simone takes her time here to build the spell.

Every artist is entitled to one for herself. 'Blues for Mama' has to be it. Mama is Nina and Nina is Mama – singer of the blues.

* Producer's Note: My Man's Gone Now was the last selection taped at the recording session. Miss Simone was physically and emotionally exhausted from previous recording, but she sat down at the piano and began to play and sing this moving "Porgy and Bess" tune. The bass picked it up. From somewhere she called up the stamina to deliver with even more intensity and spirit a rare, perfect performance in one take, which could not possibly be improved.