Nina Simone Collection (CD)


The title, The Nina Simone Collection, and the sheer number of tracks assembled here, 43, would lead a buyer to expect that this box set offers a carefully compiled overview of this great singer's catalog. A glance at the track list would seem to confirm this: many of Simone's most important benchmarks are accounted for: "I Loves You Porgy," "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," "My Baby Just Cares for Me," "Mississippi Goddam," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," et. al. But a closer perusal reveals a whole lot of asterisks next to song titles, and in tiny lettering at the bottom of the package the truth is revealed: "* live tracks." Some 26 of those 43 tracks have that asterisk, which means that the buyer is not getting Simone's original, classic studio recordings but rather concert recordings of same, from undisclosed dates and locations (neither the liner notes nor the packaging reveal the sources). That's not necessarily a bad thing: Simone live was a formidable force, capable of moving an audience like few others. And the live recordings here, as well as the other 17 tracks, are all fine indeed. But perhaps it might have been more forthcoming to drop one disc, put the live tracks on the remaining two, and just call it what it really is.