Nina Simone Sings the Blues, issued in 1967, was her RCA label debut, and was a brave departure from the material she had been recording for Phillips. Indeed, her final album for that label, High Priestess of Soul, featured the singer, pianist, and songwriter fronting a virtual orchestra. Here, Simone is backed by a pair of guitarists (Eric Gale and Rudy Stevenson), bassist (Bob Bushnell), drummer (Bernard "Pretty" Purdie), organist (Ernie Hayes), and harmonica player who doubled on saxophone (Buddy Lucas). Simone handled the piano chores. The song selection is key here. Because for all intents and purposes this is perhaps the rawest record Simone ever cut. It opens with the sultry, nocturnal, slow-burning original "Do I Move You," which doesn't beg the question but demands an answer: "Do I move you?/Are you willin'?/Do I groove you?/Is it thrillin'?/Do I soothe you?/Tell the truth now?/Do I move you?/Are you loose now?/The answer better be yeah…It pleases me…." As the guitarists slip and slide around her husky vocal, a harmonica wails in the space between, and Simone's piano is the authority, hard and purposely slow.
If this is blues, it's blues in the Billie Holiday sense, not the Muddy Waters one. This is one of Nina Simone's more subdued mid-'60s LPs, putting the emphasis on her piano rather than band arrangements. It's rather slanted toward torch-blues ballads like "Strange Fruit," "Trouble in Mind," Billie Holiday's own composition "Tell Me More and More and Then Some," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." Simone's then-husband, Andy Stroud, wrote "Be My Husband," an effective adaptation of a traditional blues chant. By far the most impressive track is her frantic ten-minute rendition of the traditional "Sinnerman," an explosive tour de force that dwarfs everything else on the album.
This 1995 release is a tough little CD much like what NinaHagen sounded like in the early 80's. The PUNK sound is back and herwork is all the better for it. Those of us who remember NUNSEXMONKROCK and the self titled NINA HAGEN BAND will appreciate her going back to that rough and tough sound we loved so much! As soon as you stick FREUD EUCH in your CD player Nina will literally blow you away with the first track "(Another junkie), Einfach Nina", with references to those undesirable and contemptible things in life like the neonazi and the yuppie.
Nina Hagen is a unique vocalist, ranging from a coloratura soprano to a guttural alto and phrasing in surprising, dramatically changing ways, so that her performances are musical roller coasters, full of sudden shifts in mood and volume. Singing alternately in German and English, Hagen is backed by rock tracks leaning toward punk on some songs, and by producer Giorgio Moroder's signature Euro-disco synth-dance sounds on others on this 14-track, 74-minute compilation. Want to hear a German-language version of the Tubes' "White Punks on Dope"? How about a performance of "My Way" (also in German) that rivals Sid Vicious' for outrageousness? Ultimately, Nina Hagen may be a period novelty act of the early '80s, a mixture of Toni Basil, Falco, and a hyena. But she gets your attention.