Nina Simone: Baltimore
Taken from the album Baltimore on CTI (1975)
Nina Simone: Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter
Taken from the album Is It Finished on RCA (1974)
Lorez Alexandria: Baltimore Oriole
Taken from the album Jazzier Rhythms on Hubbub Records, originally released on Argo (1963)
Aside from Spank Rock and–well, maybe just Spank Rock–the ol’ B-more just doesn’t get too much love these days. Sure there’s the revitalized club scene; maybe the Cal Ripken crew is even vying for playoff seat this year. But the truth of the matter remains that Baltimore exists as a kind of mystical urban abberation on the map of great American cities. Kinda like Pittsburgh.
I find it pretty strange, then, that for a city with such a step-sisterly presence in the landscape of this country, such ill songs have been written for her.
Cue bubbling baseline. I remember exactly where I stood in the checkout line of the now defunct Aaron’s Records (R.I.P), when I heard it. And I thought, ‘Wow, this sure is a nice reggae tune…’ A few more bars rumbled on and then, like a asteroid to my aural cavity–BLAMMO! Nina!?!
Sure, the tune doesn’t exactly sing the praises of the Dirty B, per se (what with the junkies and prostitutes being the highlighted citezenry), and you’d be right to note the slightly cheesed-out string-heavy chorus as a detracting element, but I’ll be damned if the song as a whole doesn’t do justice to the land of the Oriole. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t just beg for and succeed, I might add, in garnering Baltimore a little much-deserved recognition.
This post is for you Baltimore. You and your junkies and your prostitutes and, yes, your Orioles. Also this marks the first nod Queen Nina has received on the Crate. I think I can speak for both myself and the Cap’n when I say that Ms. Simone was one of the greatest… pretty much ever. Do your research you won’t be disappointed.
As for Lorez… bottom line this track dominates the universe. Also, I think you’ll note its sonic similarity to the “Mosquito’s Tweeter” track (another universe dominator), which I thought was nifty. You can find more info about this stunning jazz maven here.
Both of these divas passed away in the last few years, Lorez in 2001 and Nina in 2003. May their funky contributions live on!
For now, that’s all. Keep posted, friends. Peace.