November 2006

Various Artists - Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined
RCA/Legacy 1BMK701280
Format: CD
Released: 2006

by Katherine Silkaitis

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

With her death in 2003, Nina Simone left behind an extensive catalog of recordings that showcases her unmistakable voice singing tunes that remain ubiquitous in American culture. With Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined, RCA has culled some of her definitive works recorded between 1967 and 1974 and had them "remixed and re-imagined" by top DJs and producers. The result is a surprising album that remains true to its jazz soul while using engaging, modern tempos and beats to re-create the songs.

The album starts strong with a trilogy of tunes: "I Can’t See Nobody," "Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter 3" and "Ain’t Got No/I Got Life." Simone’s voice is the focal point of each song, yet the DJs adeptly fiddle with tune, tempo and beats. The result, especially on these tracks, are songs that retain a big-band swing feel while being as relevant as any dance club hit.

In addition to the strong opening tracks, Nickodemus’s remix of "O-o-oh Child" is notable. It retains the hopeful melancholy of its original, while employing a swelling orchestra, reggae rhythms and bits of a gospel choir. While some of the album tracks do fall into the stereotypical down-tempo techno genre -- slow, esoteric and "trippy" -- most of the album is a gem.