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Nina Simone Gets 'Remixed and Reimagined'

'Ain't Got No/I Got Life' by Nina Simone

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

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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Ain't Got No/I Got Life"
  • Artist: Nina Simone
  • CD: Nina Simone: Remixed & Reimagined
  • Genre: Lounge/Soul

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.

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