Nina Simone: Remixed and Reimagined

A whole album of remixes is an unwieldy proposition, but Remixed and Reimagined is an effective exercise in establishing a new context for the work of Nina Simone.

Nina Simone

Remixed and Reimagined

Label: Legacy
US Release Date: 2006-10-31
UK Release Date: 2006-10-30

Nina Simone cannot defend or dismiss the latest record label contrivance of her work. She passed away in 2003, leaving behind a five-decade legacy of music. Visit the Nina Simone section in any record store and it's readily apparent that this legacy has been recycled and repackaged enough times to anesthetize even the most die-hard fan. Amidst a sea of collections that contain yet another "I Loves You Porgy" and "Mississippi Goddam", Remixed & Reimagined arrives as a welcome addition to the High Priestess of Soul's discography.

Following the remastered re-releases of Nina Simone's RCA albums, RCA/Legacy serves up a collection of remixed material culled from the seven years Simone recorded for RCA Records (1967-1974). The premise isn't entirely new since Verve Records remixed a few sides from Simone's Philips Records era for their Verve Remixed series. It is, however, a successful premise: a remix of "Sinner Man" hit the Top 10 of the Billboard Dance charts in 2003 and "Ain't Got No / I Got Life" entered the UK Top 30 in remixed form earlier this year. A whole album of remixes is an unwieldy proposition but producer Scott Schlachter wisely called on 13 different mix masters with 13 different styles to usher Simone's oeuvre into the 21st century.

On albums like Silk and Soul (1967), Simone recorded a wide range of repertoire. Alongside her own compositions, she recast songs like "The Look of Love" and "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" into exciting interpretive excursions. As with the panoply of styles on Simone's albums, the constant thread that stretches across Remixed & Reimagined is her inimitable voice. Fortunately, for listeners becoming acquainted with Nina Simone through this collection, that voice is kept intact on the remixes.

What is most compelling about Remixed & Reimagined is the variety of moods generated by each DJ. In the hands of Nina Simone, "My Man's Gone Now" (from Nina Simone Sings the Blues, 1967) was an intimate, emotionally wrought spiritual. DJ Wally's remix of the Porgy & Bess tune amplifies the stark timbre of Simone's delivery with a melancholy bass and drum rhythm track. In contrast, the Nickodemus remix of "Oooh Child", as in Simone's original, cultivates a hopeful and optimistic mood.

The project also succeeds when the DJ's elicit new meanings from the songs. Francois K triumphantly re-contextualizes George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun", the title track from Simone's 1971 album. The original version bordered on drippy hokum, but out of this remix emerges a gay anthem. Francois K drenches Simone's voice in beats that pulsate like tranquil, glowing rays of amber while the High Priestess quietly intones "It's alright now / You can come on out now". Chris Coco's remix of "To Love Somebody" could easily follow "Here Comes the Sun" in a DJ's set. Whereas the atmosphere Francois K creates is womb-like, "To Love Somebody" emerges with whirling mirror-balls and dry ice. Nina Simone devotees might cringe, but what keeps the listener engaged is the truth in Simone's voice. Even if the remix track is completely synthetic, the edge in Simone's raw performance compensates.

The most innovative track is courtesy of Jazzeem, who mischievously and lovingly remixes Simone's stirring version of Ike and Tina Turner's "Funkier than a Mosquito's Tweeter" (from It Is Finished, 1974). Emphasizing the song's original drum track and suspending the rhythm to highlight Simone's voice, Jazzeem crafts a treasure trove of sonic details: he loops Simone’s chuckle and studio banter, incorporates a brief trip-hop section, creates a nervous laugh by isolating a syllable, and fades the song out with a brief coda of hypersonic drumming.

"Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter" proves that these remixes are destined to attract an audience beyond clubs and lounges because they're listenable even in solitude. (The only exception being Tony Humphries' interminable remix of "Turn Me On".) Inevitably, listeners will have different reactions to individual remixes, but Remixed and Reimagined, as a whole, is an effective exercise in establishing a new context for the work of this sorely missed artist.






Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.