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Showing posts with label BMG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BMG. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Nina Simone and Her Friends' deluxe reissue coming from BMG; four tracks from 'Little Girl Blue' recording session in 1957










Set includes four tracks from the Little Girl Blue recording session in 1957

along with songs by jazz-vocal greats Chris Connor and Carmen McRae


Available from Bethlehem Records/BMG

December 3 on vinyl, CD and digital platforms 

Stream the “African Mailman” re-mastered track here (hyperlink tk)  



LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Originally released by Bethlehem Records in 1959, Nina Simone and Her Friends was a compilation album comprising the few remaining unreleased tracks from the 1957 Little Girl Blue recording session plus songs recorded by two other former Bethlehem artists, the powerhouse jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and the elegant song stylist Chris Connor. 

An RSD-Essentials exclusive “emerald-green” limited-edition 180-gram LP will be available, along with CD and digital/streaming versions (high-definition and standard) on December 3, 2021. The reissue features a fresh stereo master done by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves as well as a vinyl remastering by the renowned Kevin Gray. Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski produced the set, which includes a new essay by Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution.


As Brooks explains in her essay, “Bethlehem clustered their work — tracks that had previously appeared on the label’s Girlfriends compilation — together with the younger, upstart Simone’s and essentially offered up a collection of songs that span a range of genres — folk, jazz, pop song staples, and torch song laments, plus a couple of provocative original compositions by McRae and Simone. Each track is a reminder of the clear-eyed independence, verve, and confidence of three artists whose music, taken together, brims with the majesty and the assured talents of the late 1950s women artists who led with conviction and invention as musicians and song interpreters.” 

Available today, October 20, as a sneak-peak, “African Mailman” is an instrumental track recorded during the Little Girl Blue sessions, showcasing Nina Simone’s incredible piano playing. At the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist. As Brooks describes it: “A magisterial original composition of Simone’s which, as she recounts it, ‘was made up on the spot in the studio and recorded in one take,’ finds her moving across an Afrodiasporic terrain of percussion, leading at the keyboard, rolling and tumbling, building waves of contrasting chromatic depth and spinning, ethereal flight.”




1.     Nina Simone – “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” 

2.     Chris Conner – “Someone to Watch Over Me” 

3.     Carmen McRae – “Old Devil Moon” 

4.     Nina Simone – “I Loves You, Porgy” 

5.     Chris Connor – “I Concentrate on You” 

6.     Carmen McRae – “You Made Me Care” 

7.     Nina Simone – “For All We Know” 

8.     Chris Connor – “From This Moment On” 

9.     Carmen McRae – “Too Much in Love to Care” 

10.   Nina Simone – “African Mailman” 

11.   Chris Connor – “All This and Heaven Too” 

12.   Carmen McRae – “Last Time for Love” 


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Watch the "African Mailman" single:

Linkfire for the “African Mailman” single:


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

BMG artist: Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the newest release (August 13, 2021), Little Girl Blue, by Nina Simone and it's terrific! This is a classic album which was originally recorded in 1957 by the then 24 year old Simone on her first recording outing. This release has been remastered and engineered by Michael Graves and Cheryl Pawelski and the vinyl (180g blue or black) cut by engineer, Kevin Gray. Opening with Ellington's, Mood Indigo and opens with Simone showing that she really knows her way around the keyboard having attended Julliard. In this hot jazz improvization, she really swings in with potent piano lines and great offset vocals, joined by Jimmy Bond on bass and Albert "Tootie" Heath on drums. Excellent opener. Don't Smoke In Bed, a Willard Robinson composition, finds Simone singing the blues with only a bed of piano as a light accompaniment for the most part and highly tense at the end of her phrases. Masterful. Another terrific blues, He Needs Me, shows Simone really knows how to work the track vocally and just the right amount of accompaniment to make the vocals glisten. You don't often hear the purity of feeling as expressed in this track. Moving into full throttle swing, Simone pours on the heat on Donaldson's Love Me Of Leave Me. Her vocal phrasing is really poised and her piano work blends classical lines with full on jazz. Just enough bass by Bond and a tight rhythm by Heath makes this a top track on the release. Rogers and Hammerstein classic, You'll Never Walk Alone gets a formally classical type arrangement tht will leave you sitting back thinking, this is a blues/jazz singer? She really is exceptional. Gershwin's I Love You, Porgy is a precious gem among the diamonds here. This track has been covered by most of the greats, most notably Miles Davis but this is no second class cover. Simone's expressive vocals and her dynamic piano work is stunning. Wrapping the release is Simone original, Central Park Blues with Bond walking the bass and Heath on brushes. A straight up blues number positions Simone on piano at lead but giving Bond a fine opportunity to front on solo as well. Her lead lines are stark and dynamic yet quiet and sensitive. This is an excellent closer for one of the classics of our times. 

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

BERT JANSCH - JUST A SIMPLE SOUL - The first comprehensive Best Of collection - Oct 26th via BMG

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Bert Jansch
Just A Simple Soul

The first comprehensive Best Of collection spanning Jansch’s 5-decade-long career, compiled by Bernard Butler and the Bert Jansch estate

Released 26th October via BMG

Released on 2CD, 2LP and advance pre-order 2LP+Tote bag
“Bert lived and breathed the sound of the guitar and its endless possibilities for communication, storytelling, conversation, emotional dialogue. We have a life’s work here, and what a life Bert Jansch has given us.” – Bernard Butler

“One of the most influential and intriguing musicians to have come out of the British music scene". – Johnny Marr
From his 1965 iconic debut album, Bert’s peerless musicality, songwriting and interpretation of traditional song has held generation after generation spellbound and inspired musicians in all genres. Just A Simple Soul – named after the closing track on his 1998 album Toy Balloon ­- is the first collection of Jansch’s entire solo career, with insightful liner notes by Bernard Butler (Suede) who compiled this selection with the Bert Jansch Estate. As a writer and player, Jansch has inspired countless other music icons including Jimmy Page, Paul Simon, Johnny Marr, Laura Marling, Graham Coxon, Fleet Foxes and Neil Young.

Pre-order the collection HERE

Presented chronologically the collection begins by drawing from his prolific 1960s period, during which he released six albums between 1965 and 1969. His self-titled debut, sometimes referred to as The Blue Album, is listed at #3 in NME’s Best Folk Albums Of All Time, and this collection plucks three tracks including the harrowing ‘Needle Of Death’; about the tragic passing of Bert’s friend, folk singer Buck Polly. The influence of young singer Anne Briggs began to show in this period, and the traditional folk songs she taught him, plus his bluesy, improvised guitar accompaniment which dominated his third solo album, Jack Orion (1966), featuring John Renbourn on guitar. That same year, the collaborative album Bert & John laid the foundations of the trad folk supergroup Pentangle. Jack Orion included ‘Blackwaterside’ (featured in this collection), a traditional song Jansch learned from Briggs. Elsewhere, eco-warning ‘Poison’ and ‘The Bright New Year’ are included from Bert’s fifth solo album Birthday Blues (1969), with Pentangle colleagues Danny Thompson and Terry Cox.

Jansch recorded three solo albums while part of Pentangle, notably Rosemary Lane (1971), an album described by The Guardian as “a stark, reflective work”, which again included a traditional song learned from Briggs (‘Reynardine’, included here) alongside his own compositions. Also featured here is ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ (originally written by Ewan MacColl for Peggy Seeger) as a duet with Mary Hopkin. ‘Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning’ and ‘Chambertin’, lifted from 1974’s L.A. Turnaround, highlight a significant passage, being recorded after Pentangle’s demise, featuring erstwhile Monkee Mike Nesmith on production. Jansch’s 70s’ output is drawn to a close with the inclusion of Kittiwake from his 1979 album Avocet, on which he teamed up with the multi-instrumentalist Martin Jenkins and Danny Thompson for a concept album inspired by birds.

Pentangle reunions and illness limited Jansch’s 80s’ solo output. It’s represented by ‘Sweet Rose’ from From The Outside (1985) which was described by Irish author and composer Colin Harper as “Bert's rawest and most cathartic work since Bert Jansch twenty years earlier.” When The Circus Comes To Town (1995) was the start of a renaissance for Bert with the title track featured here, as well as ‘Morning Brings Peace of Mind’. This collection takes its name from ‘Just A Simple Soul’, on 1998’s follow-up Toy Balloon, which also included Bert’s take on Jackson C. Frank’s ‘Carnival’ which was a perennial in his live sets.

Jansch’s 21st century output is represented by ‘Crimson Moon’ (Crimson Moon, 2000) and ‘On The Edge Of A Dream’ (Edge Of A Dream, 2002), two records that bookend his 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Edge Of A Dream featured Bernard Butler on electric guitar, Bert’s son, Adam, on bass and vocals of Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star. This collection is concluded with ‘High Days’, taken from Bert’s 23rd and, tragically, final studio album The Black Swan. Released through Sanctuary and Drag City, it featured prominent admirers including Beth Orton, Devendra Banhart and Helena Epsvall. It was dubbed an instant classic, described by Pitchfork as “immaculate but natural”, and named one of the best albums of 2006 by MOJO, who described it as “a beautiful, evocative piece of music… his strongest album in years.”

Just A Simple Soul
reminds us of Bert Jansch’s enduring legacy and his influence across the musical spectrum. As Bernard Butler eloquently puts it; “Bert lived and breathed the sound of the guitar and its endless possibilities for communication, storytelling, conversation, emotional dialogue. We have a life’s work here, and what a life Bert Jansch has given us.”

Pre-order the collection HERE

Tracklist - LP

Side 1

1. Strolling Down The Highway
2. Angie
3. Needle Of Death
4. It Don't Bother Me
5. Black Water Side
6. Soho
7. The Time Has Come

Side 2

1. Go Your Way My Love
2. Come Back Baby
3. Poison
4. The Bright New Year
5. Rosemary Lane
6. Reynardine
7. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Side 3

1. Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning
2. Chambertin
3. Baby Blue
4. Daybreak
5. Kittiwake
6. Sweet Rose
7. Let Me Sing

Side 4

1. Morning Brings Peace of Mind
2. Carnival
3. Just A Simple Soul
4. Crimson Moon
5. On The Edge Of A Dream
6. High Days

Tracklist - CD


1. Strolling Down The Highway
2. Angie
3. Needle Of Death
4. It Don't Bother Me
5. A Man I’d Rather Be
6. The Waggoner’s Lad
7. Black Water Side
8. Soho
9. The Time Has Come
10. Go Your Way My Love
11. Come Back Baby
12. Poison
13. Promised Land
14. The Bright New Year
15. Rosemary Lane
16. Reynardine
17. M’Lady Nancy
18. Moonshine
19. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face


1. Fresh As A Sweet Sunday Morning
2. Chambertin
3. The Blacksmith
4. Baby Blue
5. Daybreak
6. Kittiwake
7. Up To The Stars
8. Sweet Rose
9. The Road Tae Dundee
10. Let Me Sing
11. When The Circus Comes To Town
12. Morning Brings Peace of Mind
13. Toy Balloon
14. Carnival
15. Just A Simple Soul
16. Crimson Moon
17. Omie Wise
18. On The Edge Of A Dream
19. The Black Swan
20. High Days


Friday, January 19, 2018

Nina Simone's first recordings, 'Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions,' coming Feb. 9 from BMG.

2018 marks the 60th anniversary of these recordings made
 for Simone’s landmark debut album Little Girl Blue.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Nina Simone was only 25 years old in 1958 when she entered Beltone Studios in midtown Manhattan for a one-day recording session for her debut album, Little Girl Blue, on Bethlehem Records. The 14 songs she recorded that day reveal just how well developed Simone’s sound — her powerhouse vocals, her classically-trained piano-playing, her inventive, genre-blind arrangements, and her dynamic personality — already was. Bethlehem, a small and financially faltering jazz label, picked 11 tracks for Little Girl Blue. This unheralded debut yielded Simone’s biggest hit, a cover of the Gershwins’ “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy),” as well as her last one, “My Baby Just Cares for Me,” which charted in 1987 after being used in a TV commercial. 
By the time “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” was moving up the charts, Simone had moved on to larger and financially stronger Colpix Records. Wanting to capitalize on Simone’s hit, Bethlehem made the most of their Simone material. On Nina Simone and Her Friends, they placed “Porgy’ and the three songs left off of Little Girl Lost (“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “African Mailman,” and “For All We Know”) with songs by her label-mates Chris Connor and Carmen McRae. Between 1959-62, Bethlehem also put out six singles utilizing all of their Simone tracks. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of these recordings, BMG/Bethlehem now has compiled these singles together as Mood Indigo: The Complete Bethlehem Sessions, due out on February 9, 2019
The 14-track CD version of Mood Indigo follows the chronology of Bethlehem’s single releases, starting with the first A-side “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” and ending with the last A-side, “My Baby Just Cares Me.” The collection contains an alternative take of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” as well as seven single-only tracks that previously have only been available on the original 45s. The LP version, pressed in standard black and limited edition blue vinyl, holds 12 tracks plus a bonus 7" replica of Simone’s first single, “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)” backed with “Love Me or Leave Me.” 
The Bethlehem Sessions displays a young Nina Simone confidently putting her distinctive stamp on the set of jazz numbers and Broadway tunes. She prefaces Rodgers & Hart’s “Little Girl Blue” with a bit of “Good King Wenceslas" and drops a Bach-like interlude into the hot jazz “Love Me or Leave Me.” Although this was her first album, Simone had written in her contract that she could chose the album’s musical direction, and she chose songs she was familiar with from playing in clubs. The session featured Simone performing either solo on piano or backed by bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Al “Tootie” Heath, two then-young jazz players who went on to lengthy careers. 
Mood Indigo’s liner notes include a new interview with Heath, who recalls the one-day session with Simone. “She sat at the piano and sang, and that was that … Nina was already Nina by then. She had her sound together — It was quite different. Her piano playing was something I had never heard before because it wasn’t typical jazz or it wasn’t typical classical. It was Nina Simone, it was her stuff.” Heath’s insightful interview is just part of the enlightening liner notes. Penned by Ashley Kahn, the author of the books Kind of Blue and A Love Supreme, the liner notes provide an excellent history on the making of Little Girl Lost, which was filled with its complications, much like the Simone itself.
This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the Bethlehem Sessions, but it will also see Nina Simone being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, on April 14. Simone, who would have turned 85 on February 21st, has never disappeared from the public’s eye since she passed away in 2003. Recent years saw the release of two documentaries about her: The Amazing Nina Simone and What Happened, Miss Simone, the latter a 2016 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature. What Happened, Miss Simone also is the name of Alan Light’s well-received 2016 biography. Simone’s music continues to appear on TV and movie soundtracks (her tune "Take Care of Business” was used in the closing credits of 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film). Musicians, moreover, have long cited Simone as an influence. The song “Plain Gold Ring,” which is on Mood Indigo, has been covered by White Magic, Nick Cave, and Kimbra, while Simone’s version of “Little Girl Lost” inspired renditions by the likes of Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, and Diana Krall. 
Simone’s career was as eclectic as her music. After leaving Bethlehem, she recorded for the Colpix, Phillips, and RCA labels, releasing more than 25 albums from 1959-1974. She continued to cover standards and pop songs, from Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” to the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody”; from the traditional “Children, Go Where I Send Thee” to the original version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.” Starting in the mid-’60s, her music turned more political, highlighted by such memorable tunes as “Sinnerman,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” “Strange Fruit,” "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free," and “Mississippi Goddam.” The last 30 years of her life, Simone led a more peripatetic expatriate existence. She continued to perform live (especially overseas) but recorded only sporadically. 
Just as Simone travelled the world, she also traveled down many musical roads. Mood Indigo, however, captures Simone at an incandescent moment — when her sound held both a complexity of style and a purity of youth.
1 Little Girl Blue 
2 He Needs Me 
3 Don’t Smoke In Bed 
4 African Mailman 
5 Mood Indigo 
6 Central Park Blues

7 For All We Know 
8 Good Bait 
9 You’ll Never Walk Alone 
10 Plain Gold Ring 
11 He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands (Alternate Take) 
12 My Baby Just Cares For Me

Also includes 7" single featuring “Porgy (I Loves You, Porgy)”b/w “Love Me Or Leave Me” 

Pre-Order Links:
Barnes & Noble Exclusive Blue Vinyl 

CD & Standard Black Vinyl

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