Nina Simone: Backlash Blues
From Live In Europe (Trip, 1977)

Nina Simone: To Love Somebody
From To Love Somebody (RCA, 1969)

I’m not going to try to sum up the greatness that was is Nina Simone. Let me say this much though: Ella Fitzgerald will always be my favorite jazz singer but even I can’t deny the power that is Simone’s voice. You can have your Billies and your Sarahs, Dinahs, etc. All respect due to them. But you put Nina up against the whole lot and she’d destroy them with one scratchy note from her most signature of voices.

“Backlash Blues” comes from what amounts to a bootleg album. Even though Live in Europe appears in 1977, the recording session probably came in France in 1968 (hence explaining her Vietnam references) and it also appears on The Great Show Live in Paris. I love when Simone lays the smack hand down, especially on Nixon. Testify soul sister!

Simone’s cover of “To Love Somebody” is another favorite of mine – a little more contemporary in sound, touch of funk and so powerfully soulful. I also think it demolishes every other cover of this song I’ve heard.