"The recording quality is extremely high. Transparency and timbral accuracy are high points, the ‘stereo' spread, the low point. This sounds as if it was a two track recording meant to be mixed to mono and in fact, I have a mono original that I prefer spatially, but it can't otherwise begin to compare to this reissue's remarkable clarity, transparency and black backgrounds." — Music = 10/11; Sound = 9/11 - Michael Fremer, AnalogPlanet.com.
For more information on Little Girl Blue and the life and times of Nina Simone, see Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone by Nadine Cohodas, The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
"Listening to the AP pressing of Little Girl Blue is like being a few tables closer to the stage. At one point in 'My Baby Just Cares for Me,' the band stops and you can hear Simone tapping her foot in time. It's there in both pressings, but it has more impact — and becomes a greater part of the experience — on the AP. Analogue Productions has done everything right to ensure that these reissues are first class. Pressed by Quality Record Pressings on 200gm vinyl, each disc is flat, beautifully finished, and utterly quiet, and is packaged in a heavy cardboard jacket with well-reproduced artwork. The Nina Simone and Jeff Beck LPs are in gatefold jackets with additional photos. The packaging is terrific, but it's the sound of these LPs that will bring you back again and again. Ryan Smith has done an exemplary job of remastering, which in my case meant letting me hear new things in albums I've played many times before." — Joseph Taylor, SoundStage! Hi-Fi, October 2015
"This earliest recording shows Simone fully formed, singing among other things, 'Porgy' and 'Don't Smoke In Bed,' songs that would become signature pieces for her. Analogue Productions obtained the master tape, and this LP sounds wonderful - instrumental texture and pitch stability superior to the original or any reissue. If you set aside a slight quibble about going with stereo, no Bethlehem reissue has ever sounded this good." — Recording = 9/10; Music = 9/10 - Dennis D. Davis, Hi-Fi +, Issue 127
Eunice Kathleen Waymon recorded more than 40 albums over a long, distinguished career that stretched for five decades. As Nina Simone, her distinctive mellifluous voice honed a career catagorized variously as a jazz singer, soul singer and folk artist; she was all of these — and more.
Little Girl Blue was Nina Simone's debut release. Bethlehem founder Gus Wildi, taken with the uniquely beautiful quality of her voice, gave her complete control over song selection, backing musicians, arrangements and production of the recording.
For this new Analogue Productions reissue of Little Girl Blue we've upped the ante. A single pocket jacket to suffice? No. We've done the lady right with a heavy Stoughton Printing tip-on gatefold jacket featuring gorgeous color photos of Nina from a glamorous stage performance. And the peerless mastering by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound in New York sounds incredible. Then top it off with 200-gram Quality Record Pressings vinyl that is unsurpassingly silent and gives incredibly rich playback.
As the liner notes say, there are plenty of musical singers who vocalize well and have an individual style but who never cross that thin and hard-to-define line that separates a good "pop" style from one that is jazz. The first few notes of this record will immediately confirm Nina's jazz credentials. As she said, "You got to get to people." That she does with a vibrant and husky contralto that tonally sounds like a blend of an unlikely combination of Marian Anderson and Ma Rainey.
Nina Simone was born February 21, 1933, in Tryon, North Carolina. She was one of eight children — all of whom sang or played an instrument. At 4 she started to play piano; by 4 1/2 she was singing and soon was part of a church trio with her sisters. By the time she reached high school she was playing jazz piano heavily tinged with the folk blues of the south. When she graduated at 17 she left home for Philadelphia. Later followed two years of serious piano study at New York's Julliard School of Music. She made her first vocal appearance singing from the keyboard at the Mid-Town Club in Atlantic City. By this time she had heard and enjoyed and been influenced by such stylists as Louis Armstrong, Kitty White, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Jordan and Billie Holiday.
Her unusual combination of classical training, the ecstatic and serious quality of gospel church music that influenced her vocal delivery, and the funky and modern schools of jazz with which she came into close contact all made for an inspiring singer and instrumentalist.
For Little Girl Blue, Nina and her rhythm section recorded the entire album plus three additional tracks in just one session. In her biography of Nina, Nadine Cohodas recounts engineer Irv Greeenbaum's recollection of that day: "Nothing like Nina's artistry had ever happened before ... Her voice and the keyboard playing were so rich and interesting that they could have stood alone."
Little Girl Blue documents Nina Simone's unparalleled and idiosyncratic musical persona at a particularly vibrant, formative stage, and helped launch her on a trajectory with more than its share of personal and professional trials and triumphs.