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Nina Simone Gets 'Remixed and Reimagined'

A tremendously versatile performer, Nina Simone continues to inspire creative collaboration years after her death.
A tremendously versatile performer, Nina Simone continues to inspire creative collaboration years after her death.

Posthumous remix projects tend to be well-intentioned and awkward, the musical equivalent of those commercials featuring Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner. Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagined is the first of a series of releases on which mostly European remixers work over a legendary artist's oeuvre. Simone's collection wisely leaves her signature numbers ("I Loves You Porgy," "My Baby Just Cares for Me") unmolested, and gives the rest of the tracks the chill-out treatment. Much of the disc would sound at home playing in a trendy Parisian hotel lobby, or at Moby's house.

"Ain't Got No/I Got Life," a medley from the musical Hair and a minor European hit for Simone in the late '60s, serves as the exception: Charming and bizarre, it's partly a checklist of vital organs ("I got my feet / I got my toes / I got my liver," and so on) and partly an ode to making the best of it: "I've got life / and I'm gonna keep it."

Thanks to remixer Groovefinder, who lards the track with old-school accoutrements, "Ain't Got No/I Got Life" sounds like the product of an unearthly collaboration involving Simone, Sly Stone and the Stax Department of Horns. Originally loping and straightforward, it now shimmies and swings, a model of loopy, unrestrained exuberance its originators could never have imagined.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Allison L. Stewart
Allison Stewart is a writer living in New York. It's entirely possible to see her work in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, No Depression, Rolling Stone or any number of other places. Or to miss it entirely, which is just as likely.