Nina Simone – Wild Is The Wind (1966)

Wild Is the Wind is the sixth studio album by American singer and pianist Nina Simone released by Philips Records in 1966. The album was compiled from several recordings that were left over from sessions (in 1964 and 1965) for previous Philips albums. The album was a Billboard magazine “special merit pick” on release, with the reviewer commenting: “Simone … sets up an exceptional romantic mood that offers top listening delight”.

The song “Four Women” was released as a single, and gained attention when banned by the New York jazz focused radio station WLIB due to concern over the lyrics.

Simone first recorded “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” in 1955, in Philadelphia with a strings arrangement and was not intended for release at the time. (In 1970 that version appeared on the album Gifted & Black.) In April 1964 she went into a New York Studio with her band, and on the second day in the studio, she recorded the version of “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” that would appear on Wild Is The Wind. For the song, Simone only wanted a minimal accompaniment with her playing the piano and a bass drone. Lisle Atkinson [describes] what he was asked to do during his time in Nina Simone’s band: “She wanted the least amount of complication as possible—roots and 5’s, nothing too slick. I have to give Nina credit for being aware that I could bow, and she utilized it a lot. She had me playing a lot of arco in performances.”

“Wild Is The Wind” was covered by David Bowie on his 1976 studio recording Station to Station.

Track Listing:

1. “I Love Your Lovin’ Ways”
2. “Four Women”
3. “What More Can I Say”
4. “Lilac Wine”
5. “That’s All I Ask”
6. “Break Down and Let It All Out”
7. “Why Keep On Breaking My Heart”
8. “Wild Is the Wind”
9. “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”
10. “If I Should Lose You”
11. “Either Way I Lose”

Review: This album was apparently a bit of a pastiche of leftovers from sessions for Nina Simone’s four previous albums on Philips. But you’d never guess from listening; the material is certainly as strong and consistent as it is on her other mid-’60s LPs. As is the case with most of her albums of the time, the selections are almost unnervingly diverse, ranging from jazz ballads to traditional folk tunes (“Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair”) to the near calypso of “Why Keep on Breaking My Heart” to the somber, almost chilling title track. Highlights are two outstanding pop-soul numbers written by the pre-disco Van McCoy (“Either Way I Lose,” “Break Down and Let It All Out”) and “Four Women,” a string of searing vignettes about the hardships of four African-American women that ranks as one of Simone’s finest compositions. — Richie Unterberger

Schill Score: 8.75/10

Listen to Album on Spotify