“To Love Somebody” by Nina Simone - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1969Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

Nina finished the 60s with her greatest LP yet. Ironically for such an accomplished songwriter, it was predominantly an all-covers album. The fact that she steers well clear of her beloved jazz roots probably has much to do with my view, and musicologists can breathe easy as to the integrity of the brilliant technical dexterities of previous works. She Simone-ifies all before her, although her selection process lent itself well; incorporating her lately favoured themes of love, politics and social justice.

Suzanne” (Judy Collins, 1968) is re-invented with a wonderfully restless arrangement, peppy and soulful. Just the way a cover should be; radically different. “Turn Turn Turn” (The Limeliters, 1962) is another great re-invention of sorts, digging on some of that “Blonde on Blonde” warmth of ’66. Nina answered John Lennon’s “Revolution”, impressing the writer himself, with her own view. It’s not as simple as freeing your mind, as she later opined: “It's about a revolution, man: not just colour, but everything! It's about barriers being broken down, and they sure as hell need getting rid of. We need a revolution to sort it all out and get back to God. You know how lost we are, man – it's sad.” Love the talk, though I’m not entirely taken by the unexciting R n B bed. And splitting it into a two-parter with an apocalyptic crescendo which comes over as a bit silly.

To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees, 1967) turns out to be a groovy pop treat; it’s nice, sometimes, to hear Nina in a non-sceptical mood. The second side of the LP is dominated by three of Dylan’s. “I Shall Be Released” (The Band, 1968) is presented as a soul ballad, complete with wailing soul-sister backing; it’s terrific, with a solid back-beat aiding the impact. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” (Bob Dylan, 1965), the lament of a man let down by everyone from the government to friends to police, proves to be the abiding highlight. Nina feels that song; we can feel that she feels it. It’s a stone-classic and it leaves me quietly howling at the moon. After the assassination of Martin Luther King in ‘68, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (Bob Dylan, 1964) almost picked itself as the album’s closer. Nina brews up a storm, and her anger is palpable. It was a powerful finale to her strongest set yet.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:18] 8.3.png Nina Simone - Suzanne (Leonard Cohen) Soul
A2 [03:38] 7.5.png Nina Simone - Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season) [1969 album version] (Traditional, Pete Seeger) Songwriter
A3 [02:49] 6.1.png Nina Simone - Revolution, part 1 (Weldon Irvine, Nina Simone) Blues / Rhythm n Blues
A4 [01:50] 5.7.png Nina Simone - Revolution, part 2 (Weldon Irvine, Nina Simone) Soul
A5 [02:38] 5.9.png Nina Simone - To Love Somebody (The Way I Love You) [1969 album version] (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) Cerebral Pop
B1 [03:51] 7.5.png Nina Simone - I Shall Be Released (Robert Zimmerman) Soul Ballad
B2 [03:05] 6.5.png Nina Simone - I Can’t See Nobody (Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb) Cerebral Pop
B3 [04:46] 9.0.png Nina Simone - Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Robert Zimmerman) Songwriter
B4 [05:51] 8.0.png Nina Simone - The Times They Are-A-Changin’ (Robert Zimmerman) Alternative Folk

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