Nina Simone

Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits & Remixes
(Verve)

Nina Simone’s music and message continue to resonate with new audiences, particularly with her scene-stealing appearance in Questlove’s 1969 festival documentary Summer of Soul currently streaming on Hulu and playing in select theaters, and Verve underlines that point with this project. Over two discs, this compilation first gathers 19 of Simone’s most indelible songs such as “Mississippi Goddam,” “Strange Fruit,” “I Loves You Porgy,” “I Put A Spell On You” and Simone’s timeless version of “Feeling Good.” Then, top DJs and producers Joel Corry, Riton, Sofi Tukker, Rudimental, Hot Chip, Floorplan and Honne update seven of Simone’s songs for the dance floor and beyond.

The 19 established tracks are exemplary, of course, but the headline here is Verve updating Simone for a modern audience.

Her audibly weary embrace of joy on the title track is taken to new heights by Corry’s deft addition of synths and thudding drums. Mark Ronson and Dua Lipa collaborator Riton fittingly infuse “See Line Woman” with an island breeze of textures. Sofi Tukker, who’s worked with Lady Gaga, among others, expertly chops up Simone’s piano and vocals, gleefully reveling in her ability to play with the sounds on hand here. English electronic music duo HONNE make Simone groove with a bit of a Radiohead-esque lilt on “My Baby Just Cares For Me.” And synth-pop band Hot Chip, which boasts an impressive resume, having worked with Amy Winehouse, Florence and the Machine and Sia, turns “Be My Husband” into an appropriately slow burner of a finish. One wonders who could possibly say no to the question at hand.

Remix albums are a dicey proposition, especially with an artist as venerated as Simone in play. But Feeling Good: Her Greatest Hits & Remixes works because it provides a healthy dose of what made her great in her own time and then cherrypicks how and when to re-contextualize her. It achieves its ambitious goal: to bring Simone to audiences young and old with fresh ears.


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