To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story

( 6 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
There's no question that Nina Simone is richly deserving of a three-CD (plus one DVD), 51-song box set such as To Be Free. From the late '50s until her death, she was one of the great unclassifiable pop singers of the 20th century, and if her voluminous recording career was erratic, the first 15 years at any rate had many highlights. Any complaint about this particular package has more to do with the balance of eras represented than the quality of the contents, which is generally very good. If one is to criticize, however, it's that it does seem heavily weighted toward her 1967-1973 recordings for RCA, which take up about two-thirds of the three audio discs. Perhaps ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Richie Unterberger
There's no question that Nina Simone is richly deserving of a three-CD (plus one DVD), 51-song box set such as To Be Free. From the late '50s until her death, she was one of the great unclassifiable pop singers of the 20th century, and if her voluminous recording career was erratic, the first 15 years at any rate had many highlights. Any complaint about this particular package has more to do with the balance of eras represented than the quality of the contents, which is generally very good. If one is to criticize, however, it's that it does seem heavily weighted toward her 1967-1973 recordings for RCA, which take up about two-thirds of the three audio discs. Perhaps that's because it's on the RCA/Legacy label, but certainly a good case could be made that her pre-1967 recordings for a variety of other companies (most often Philips) were worthy of greater representation. To focus on the positives, however, most of disc one does include strong pre-RCA tracks from the first decade of her recording career, including some of her best-known classics of the time, like "My Baby Just Cares for Me," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "See-Line Woman," "I Put a Spell on You," and "Four Women." While the RCA era arguably saw her move too much into pop-oriented production on occasion and too many covers of pop
ock hits, the selections from that era are chosen with intelligence, including a good number of live tracks. The two post-1973 cuts -- one from 1978 and one from her final proper album, 1993's A Single Woman -- seem like afterthoughts to ensure that most of her career was covered in some way, but that's justifiable considering that the last three decades of her life saw little in the way of noteworthy recordings. Though there's not much in the way of rarities, the set also does contain half a dozen previously unreleased live tracks of merit; four songs from the hard-to-find album A Very Rare Evening, recorded live in Germany in April 1969; and a couple (a live cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and an alternate version of "Ain't Got No -- I Got Life") that make their first U.S. appearance. The most tantalizing item for serious Simone fans is the DVD of a 1970 television special, though it turns out to be a little less exciting than one might have hoped. Lasting just 23 minutes, it intersperses scenes of her recording in the studio and performing on-stage (most of the songs being fragments, highlighted by a complete live version of "Go to Hell") with interview snippets in which Simone offers basic comments on the rewards and difficulties of being a creative musician. Still, in all this is a very good box set illustrating Simone's facility at jumping between and blending numerous genres, including soul, pop, rock, jazz, Broadway, classical, and even (on the previously unissued 1973 live performance "Nina") world fusion music of sorts with backing by sitar and kalimba. Just don't necessarily take it as a summation of all her greatest work, with much more from the pre-1967 period in particular thankfully available to investigate on other CDs.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/30/2008
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • UPC: 886971100921
  • Catalog Number: 711009
  • Sales rank: 92,363

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Mood Indigo (4:02)
  2. 2 I Loves You, Porgy (4:10)
  3. 3 My Baby Just Cares for Me (3:38)
  4. 4 Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out (2:39)
  5. 5 You Can Have Him (5:56)
  6. 6 Wild Is the Wind (3:34)
  7. 7 Trouble in Mind (5:35)
  8. 8 When Malindy Sings/Swing Low Sweet Chariot [Medley] (5:40)
  9. 9 See-Line Woman (2:37)
  10. 10 Pirate Jenny (6:40)
  11. 11 Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (2:45)
  12. 12 I Put a Spell on You (2:36)
  13. 13 Ne Me Quitte Pas (3:36)
  14. 14 Feeling Good (2:55)
  15. 15 Four Women (4:25)
  16. 16 My Man's Gone Now (4:17)
  17. 17 I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free (3:09)
  18. 18 To Love Somebody (2:40)
  19. 19 Sunday in Savannah (3:18)
  20. 20 Backlash Blues (3:32)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Mississippi Goddam (6:55)
  2. 2 In the Morning (2:43)
  3. 3 Ain't Got No -- I Got Life (2:58)
  4. 4 Do What You Gotta Do (3:01)
  5. 5 Seems I'm Never Tired Loving You (3:02)
  6. 6 Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (4:50)
  7. 7 The Times They Are A-Changin' (5:56)
  8. 8 Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season) (3:41)
  9. 9 The Other Woman (6:01)
  10. 10 I Think It's Going to Rain Today (4:44)
  11. 11 Save Me (3:33)
  12. 12 Revolution (6:23)
  13. 13 To Be Young, Gifted and Black (2:50)
  14. 14 Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair (3:25)
  15. 15 Westwind (8:48)
  16. 16 Who Knows Where the Time Goes (4:59)
  17. 17 Suzanne (5:02)
Disc 3
  1. 1 No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed (4:51)
  2. 2 Just Like a Woman (4:52)
  3. 3 Here Comes the Sun (3:34)
  4. 4 Tanywey (3:27)
  5. 5 Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter (5:17)
  6. 6 My Sweet Lord/Today Is a Killer [Medley] (18:19)
  7. 7 Let It Be Me (5:02)
  8. 8 Poppies (4:47)
  9. 9 Mr. Bojangles (4:52)
  10. 10 I Want a Little Sugar in My Bowl (5:47)
  11. 11 Nina (4:13)
  12. 12 Zungo (4:19)
  13. 13 Baltimore (4:39)
  14. 14 A Single Woman (3:32)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Ain't Got No -- I Got Life
  2. 2 Pirate Jenny
  3. 3 Don't Pay Them No Mind
  4. 4 Milestones
  5. 5 Go to Hell
  6. 6 Backlash Blues
  7. 7 Percussion/Drums/Clapping/Dancing
  8. 8 I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
  9. 9 Precious Lord
  10. 10 Bonus Material
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Nina Simone Primary Artist, Piano, Vocals
Jeff Hamilton Drums
Seldon Powell Alto Flute, Tenor Saxophone
Chuck Rainey Bass
Ernie Royal Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Hal Mooney Conductor
Weldon Irvine Organ, Conductor
Montego Joe Drums
David Nadien Violin
Jimmy Wisner Conductor
Nadi Qamar Percussion, Kalimba
Don Alias Percussion, Bongos, Drums
Lamar Alsop Viola
Seymour Barab Cello
Everett Barksdale Guitar
John Beal Bass
Maurice Bialkin Cello
Alfred Brown Viola
Garnett Brown Trombone
Ernie Calabria Guitar
Buck Clarke Drums
John Clayton Bass
Lewis Eley Violin
Max Ellen Violin
Barry Finclair Violin
Eric Gale Guitar
Eileen Gilbert Vocals
Harry Glickman Violin
Dominick Gravine Trumpet, Bass Trumpet
Milt Grayson Vocals
Paul Griffin Piano
Louis Haber Violin
Bob Hamilton Drums
Hilda Harris Vocals
Harry Lookofsky Violin
Ernie Hayes Organ, Piano
Haywood Henry Saxophone
Albert "Tootie" Heath Drums
Gary King Bass
Emile Latimer Guitar
Charles Libove Violin
Carl Lynch Guitar
Nicky Marrero Percussion
Charles McCracken Cello
Homer Mensch Bass
Marvin Morgenstern Violin
Horace Ott Conductor
Gene Perla Bass
Bernard "Pretty" Purdie Drums, Timpani
Emedin Rivera Percussion, Conga
David Sackson Violin
Jumma Santos Conga
Al Schackman Guitar, Piano, Sitar, Tambourine
Stuart Scharf Guitar
Richard Sortomme Violin
Irving Spice Violin
David Spinozza Guitar
Richard Tee Organ
Barbara Webb Vocals
Harold Wheeler Conductor
Jack Zayde Violin
Jimmy Bond Bass
Mel Tax Flute, Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Chris White Bass
Julius Brand Violin
Michael Comins Violin
Jerry Jemmott Bass
Gordon "Specs" Powell Percussion, Vibes
Herbert Sorkin Violin
Rudy Stevenson Flute, Guitar
Emanuel Vardi Viola
Essien Nkrumah Percussion
Jerry Graff Vocals
Michael Melvoin Piano
Jimmy Madison Drums
Harold "Money" Johnson Trumpet
Joe Shepley Trumpet
Sammy Lowe Conductor
Lisle Atkinson Bass
Samuel Waymon Organ, Vocals
Doris Willingham Background Vocals
Wilbur Bascomb Jr. Trumpet
Alan Schulman Cello
Tom L. Smith Guitar
Henry Young Guitar
Marky Markowitz Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Joseph Haber Violin
Noah Hopkins Vocals
Samuel Wayman Organ, Piano
Maeretha Stewart Vocals
Alvin Rogers Percussion
Gene Taylor Bass
Technical Credits
Marc Blitzstein Composer
George Gershwin Composer
Dimitri Tiomkin Composer
Kurt Weill Composer
Leonard Cohen Composer
Sandy Denny Composer
Richie Havens Composer
Pete Seeger Composer, Adaptation
Irving Berlin Composer
Nina Simone Arranger, Composer, Producer
Bob Dylan Composer
Aretha Franklin Composer
Randy Newman Composer
Tina Turner Composer
Miles Davis Composer
Langston Hughes Composer
Jeremy Lubbock Orchestral Arrangements
Irving Mills Composer
Jacques Brel Composer
Gilbert Bécaud Composer
Matt Kelly Tape Research
Hal Mooney Arranger, Producer
Carolyn Franklin Composer
Robin Gibb Composer
Weldon Irvine Arranger, Composer, Producer
Richard M. Jones Composer
Galt MacDermot Composer
Jimmy Wisner Arranger
Bertolt Brecht Composer
Oscar Brown Jr. Composer
Rod McKuen Composer
Jack Robinson Cover Photo
Barry Gibb Composer
Bennie Benjamin Composer
Barney Bigard Composer
Leslie Bricusse Composer
Manny Curtis Composer
Pierre Delanoé Composer
Walter Donaldson Composer
Duke Ellington Composer
André Fischer Producer
Ira Gershwin Composer
Jerry Jeff Walker Composer
Gus Kahn Composer
Anthony Newley Composer
Horace Ott Arranger
Joe Rene Producer
Walter Robinson Producer
William Salter Composer
Al Schackman Musical Director
Richard Seidel Producer, Liner Notes
Caiphus Semenya Composer
Nat Shapiro Producer
Pete Spargo Producer
Billy Taylor Composer
Creed Taylor Producer
Ned Washington Composer
Harold Wheeler Arranger, Producer
Mark Wilder Mastering
Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey Composer
James Rado Composer
Gerome Ragni Composer
Ed Ward Liner Notes, Introduction
Sammy Lowe Arranger
DuBose Heyward Composer
Sol Marcus Composer
Curtis Ousley Composer
Jessie Mae Robinson Composer
Hugh MacKay Composer
Richard Ahlert Composer
George Bass Composer
Gloria Caldwell Composer
Dick Dallas Composer
Traditional Composer
Michelle Holme Art Direction
Jeremy Wind Composer
Bob Blake Producer
Paul Laurence Dunbar Composer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    review: Nina Simone: To Be Free: treblezine.com

    Nina Simone has recorded some of the most memorable music of the 20th century. Prolific is an understatement; Nina Simone was a virtuoso on stage and in the recording studio. Between 1957 and 1973, Simone completed 27 albums for four different record labels. Unlike her personal heroine Billie Holliday, not only could Nina sing exquisitely, she, herself was a classically trained pianist. This made her a creative force as composer and lyricist. Because of this, Nina had a musician's ear and knew how to craft classic originals and adapt famous standards of her day.<BR/><BR/>Many of these are found in the new dynamic four disc (3 CD and 1 DVD set) To Be Free. Not only is this a collection of vintage songs written and recorded by Nina Simone, this is the soundtrack to American history from an artist that is unknown by the majority of modern music fans. It is a criminal shame that Nina Simone is rarely mentioned up there with Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, and Patsy Cline as queens of American music.<BR/><BR/>To me she surpasses all of those incredible singers because Nina composed the majority of the music and lyrics to all her originals. And Simone came up with the arrangements of her favorite artists that she covered, like Gershwin's "I Love's You, Porgy" Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quite Pas," George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun" and Bob Dylan's "Just like a Woman."<BR/><BR/>Although To Be Free includes live versions of "Wild is the Wind," the Langston Hughes-penned powerhouse "Backlash Blues" any my personal favorite "Who Knows Where the Times Goes." The 30 minute DVD, Nina: A Historical Perspective is a breathtaking insight inside the mind, the music and the voice of Nina Simone told in her own words.<BR/><BR/>Inside the music and film of To Be Free, you will see and hear why and how she inspired a generation of artists and bands. Thanks to Mary J. Blige, Lauren Hill, Alicia Keys, Cat Power, Bowie and Buckley, the legend of Nina Simone sings on within them, their vocal styles and covers of her originals. We must not forget the many films that have showcased Nina's voice and songs and helped introduce her music to a new generation of soulful enthusiasts. If you're a novice and searching for a place to start your education of Nina Simone look no further than To Be Free. This box set captures the beauty, power and essence of all that encompassed the artistry and myth that was Nina Simone.<BR/><BR/>Adrian Ernesto Cepeda<BR/>http://treblezine.com/reviews/2889-Nina_Simone_To_Be_Free.html

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic Nina

    I highly recommend "To Be Free." The interview on the accompanying DVD is the jewel of this compilation. During this interview, one relates to Nina as she listens, sings, shares, laughs, and dances. She is a lady whose body of work reveals her priorities: social change and equity. Wow...an incredible talent who travailed through unjust social constructs to make a beautiful contribution to humanity. To think of Nina is to think of artistry. This compilation serves as a textbook that can benefit any artist. The accompanying notes are brief and informative. And, well, the music "sings" for itself. Bravo!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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