by Hobey Echlin
Nina Simone's stylized covers of everyone from Leonard Cohen to the Five Stairsteps made her pop's first true remixer and re-interpreter, spanning the jazz era's taste for revisiting standards and foreshadowing the irony of today's pop world and its unlikely covers. On this disc of remixes and reimaginations, Simone's aura is as much a reference point as it is raw material for a bunch of dancefloor-leaning artists who treat her as a mirror-ball icon. New York's Francois K turns in a squinting, end-of-the-party house reworking of "Here Comes The Sun," while New Jersey house icon Tony Humphries' "Turn Me On" is a late night drive that uses Simone's vocals as little more than turn signals when the track changes lanes. The best tracks here stick to remixing, like Daniel Y's breakbeat-and-horns taking on the torchy "I Can't See Nobody," which takes Simone's version and gives it a heavier, more commanding undercarriage that suggests Sade-meets-Public Enemy. Ditto for Nickodemus' "Ooooh Child," which lightly dusts off Simone's original version of the Five Stairsteps classic, tempering the enthusiasm with a world-weary deadpan and widening its sonic breadth with a simple drumline and expanded "right nowwwww" background vocals. Other tracks are more obvious hits (Groovefinders' "Ain't Got Nobody" is a predictable funk workout Fatboy Slim could have done eight years ago), but overall, Remixed and Reimagined does show how relevant Simone still is. Put more simply, Nina's still the shit.
Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.