She takes that song 'Ain't Got No, I Got Life' and makes it so much more than a silly musical song [from Hair], she gives it emotional depth. That's the great thing about Nina Simone - she did so many Bee Gees songs - and the Bee Gees are this agreed-upon joke. I think the Bee Gees are amazing geniuses - they are just so prolific and the fact that they were able to make all these changes and keep going. They did this Beatles-esque psychedelic thing which I think is awesome and went onto becoming the kings of disco, and wrote that Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton song, 'Islands In The Stream'. Nina Simone hears a Bee Gees song or someone suggests it to her and she goes, "That's such a sweet song - those guys have no soul at all, but I'm gonna make this song sound awesome."
What I love about that album is that it's mostly all recorded live - there's real space to it because of that. That's something we tried to do for the musical - record it live, we wanted to record it in the same room, but because there were so many elements we had to put in it was impossible.
The album was recorded four days after Martin Luther King's death. I don't know how big Nina Simone really was in her lifetime, but it feels like we are lacking in politicised chanteuses right now. I think now [there's] this real era of Christian rock - people just want to be uplifted. It's kind of that dynamic thing that the critic criticises Cat Stevens for; you can probably criticise Coldplay or Mumford & Sons for the same kind of thing. Like, "Oh you're just toying with me, you're starting all small and then making it huge, of course I have a religious feeling right now!" Nick Hutchings
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