LET IT BE ME
Nina Simone’s live performances have a power and an intimacy all their own, and those qualities stand out in this 1987 recording from Vine Street.
It’s a stunning form of cabaret singing, dramatic without melodrama, and with roots that reach to Billie Holiday’s surprising success with “Strange Fruit.” Simone can add profundity to a usually carefree song like “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” and the range of the performance broadens with the startling “Be My Husband,” a simple pattern reduced to the naked force of a field holler, and the stark hymn “Balm in Gilead.”
Carefully chosen songs from Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, and Janis Ian achieve new dimensions in Simone’s treatments. Her own deeply felt “Four Women” and “Mississippi Goddam” are potent and enduring protests.
There’s some effectively spare accompaniment from guitar, bass, and drums, but Simone’s piano is the essential instrumental voice, from slow barrelhouse to Bach.
- Nina Simone: vocals, piano
- Arthur Adams: guitar, bass
- Cornell McFadden: drums
- Miriam Cutler: producer
- Ron Berinstein: producer
- David Kreisberg: engineer, producer
- Nick Dofflemeyer: engineering
- Larry Walsh: editing
- Bill Levy: art direction
- Chris Whorf: design
- Sherry Rayn Barnett: photographer
- Label: Verve, 1987
- Recording session: Vine Street Bar and Grill – Hollywood, California – 1985
- Catalog number: 831-437-1