Nina Simone
Little Girl Blue
BMG / Bethlehem Jazz

A Sensitively Re-Mastered Classic.

Recorded over one day in 1957, Nina Simone’s debut album is one of those records which stands the test of time as being one which sets a very high career peak from the off – as, over the generations did album’s like John Prine’s debut, or the Ramones first too.
Musically, of course, this is light years in style away from those acts, but it established her as an almost fully-formed force to be reckoned with at 25 years old.
The stylistic variety in this album is still clear – in Daphne A. Brooks’ essay written for the album, she references Simone’s
wide and robust, rich and varied knowledge of jazz, blues, American songbook, folk and spiritual standards and aesthetics
across the eleven tracks on offer.
Historically, the breakthrough track on the album “I Loves You, Porgy” and the later to become a classic “My Baby Just Cares For Me” are both here and familiar, but it’s a deeper dive into tracks like the smoky “Mood Indigo” or the jauntier “Love Me or Leave Me” which sound fresh to these ears through a lack of saturated familiarity.
The purpose of this particular release is that it has been newly remastered – for high definition and standard digital release, vinyl and CD. I reviewed the HD digital version; and my impression was that the mix gives the instrumentation a little more room to breathe – the frequently featured brushed snare has had a little of its harshness removed and the drum bus has been panned across the stereo image – but fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how much of a purist fan you are of the original – piano and vocal are panned to the sides, as was often the case at the time of recording.
To modern ears, used to a vocal being set centre, it is a bit disconcerting to hear Nina Simone over to the left; it would have been a nice bonus to have realigned the instrument field to suit the modern listener, even as an extra – I guess if panning of this type was good enough for the likes of the early Beatles, then there’s justification to keep to the original sound field – but maybe next time….overall this is a careful and considerate re-release – the remastering is sensitive to historical context and is a preservation exercise rather than a reinvention.

Little Girl Blue Track listing:

  1. “Mood Indigo” 
  2. “Don’t Smoke in Bed” 
  3. “He Needs Me”
  4. “Little Girl Blue”
  5. “Love Me or Leave Me”
  6. “My Baby Just Cares For Me”
  7. “Good Bait”
  8. “Plain Gold Ring”
  9. “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
  10. “I Loves You, Porgy”
  11. “Central Park Blues”

Review by Nick Barber

VINYL Released July 16th 2021
CD Released August 13th 2021


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