Hommage albums are all the rage. After the brilliant Autour de Nina (reviewed here), I was nevertheless kind of curious about the new album Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone.
Well, obviously when I saw that artists like Usher participated (who really represents to me everything that is wrong about today’s top 40 radio “soul”), I kind of assumed I’d hate this album, so I declare openly in front of the jury my potential bias.
But then I figured, what the heck, so far every single album review I’ve done was four or five stars, so I finally felt obliged to also show to you what it is I actually don’t like.
This album is a very good example.
Usher’s version of My Baby Just Cares For Me is massacring this song, which to be fair, was never particularly good in the first place (the producers forced Nina Simone at the time to add it as they felt there were too many ballads on her debut album Little Girl Blue), but at least it can be pleasing and swinging. It is nothing like that here, just brainless drum-computer-plus-overproduced-synthesizers elevator music.
So why bother mentioning this album at all on my blog? Why waste my energy? Well, because there are actually a handful of tracks on this album that are quite enjoyable.
First of all, Ms. Lauryn Hill does a really good job on Feeling Good; this could even become my favorite version of this feel-good (sorry for the pun) song, and Wild in the Wind is also pretty well done. She shouldn’t have done Ne me quitte pas, but then again, Nina shouldn’t have done either. If you don’t know it, please do yourself the favor and check out Jacques Brel’s original. Once you’ve heard this, you’d wish nobody ever bothered to cover this song with a horrible English accent in the first place.
Alice Smith’s version of I put a spell on you is actually quite interesting, although far from Sophie Hunger’s brilliant version on Autour de Nina. Gregory Porter’s version of Sinnerman is at least as enjoyable as Keziah Jones. And finally, Lisa Simone’s I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl is decent background music.
barely 3 starsEDIT: Nah, the couple of decent tracks on here doesn’t make up for the unbearable garbage of some others: 2 stars.
Do yourself a favor and only buy individual tracks here!