Nina Simone‘s “Fodder On My Wings” was recorded in 1982 for the French Carrere label and has now been released on hi-res audio on LP and CD on Verve. The album was re-released in 1988 on the French Cy label and included three additional tracks, also included here. Nina had already moved to Paris and was known to be extremely lonely, with her mental health deteriorating. But still, she felt rejuvenated by the newly found African musicians she met while living in France.
The songs on offer are deeply personal, sometimes with a weariness that is hard to bare, but sometimes with a sarcastic tone mixed with anger, which had become one of her trademarks by then. And so, Gilbert O’Sullivan‘s “Alone Again (Naturally)”, not on the original album but on the reissue, best describes the state she was in. She added a few lines after the death of her father and the tune’s character changes towards pain. Another stand-out piece is the quasi-title track, “Fodder In Her Wings”, a lively and sardonic tune with echoes of chamber music, semi-classical, and world elements, with her vocals coming in well after three minutes into the track. More personal descriptions of the way she was feeling come with the album’s opener, the pretty untamed but also strangely unbalanced “I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive” and my personal favorite, the chant-like, hypnotizing “Vous Etes Seuls, Mais Je Désire Entre Avec Vous” with its cool organ, hearty handclaps, and brave vocal arrangement.
Elsewhere on the album, there is the rather frivolous “Liberian Calypso”, the arraigning “I Was Just A Stupid Dog To Them” and the short, uplifting “Color Is A Beautiful Thing”. Much too short. Her knack for almost naive-sounding melodies comes to the fore on “Il Y A Un Baume A Gilhead”, later included in her live performances (also on the live album recorded at Vine St.), and also on “Heaven Belongs To You” and “Stop”. Grief and lament are at the core of “Thandewye” and “Le Peuple En Suisse”, plaintive and larmoyant as it may be, has left me pretty cold.
By the way, there is one song from the original 1982 release which is not included in this reissue: “There Is No Returning” has been omitted, for whatever reason.