Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Laura Nyro

I have just finished reading "Soul Picnic", a biography of the late Laura Nyro written by Michelle Kort. It is a very good read and I would thoroughly recommend if you are a fan although, in the UK at least, it is not the easiest thing to get hold of - it was ordered on Amazon for me late last year as a Christmas present but only finally arrived a couple of months ago.

I have never particularly warmed to some of Laura's more earnest moments - large chunks of "New York Tendaberry", for example - where you imagine her hunched over her piano, banging away at the keys and baring her soul. But when she is more mellow or more chirpy it is another matter altogether, and she did have the most wonderfully soulful voice as was evident whenever she reinterpreted an old pop or soul standard from the 1960s.

"Angel In The Dark" was an album released in 2001, four years after her death from ovarian cancer. It brings together tracks recorded at various sessions during 1994 and 1995, some of which then had additional instrumentation added to them to "finish them off". It is a mixture of covers and originals, and overall works very well.

From the album, here is her cover version of the Delfonics' "La La Means I Love You", and her own "Sweet Dream Fade" - according to the book, the last song recorded at her last ever recording session.


And here are Three Dog Night with their version of "Eli's Comin'":


  1. I just wanted to add a comment here, NY Tendaberry was the 3rd album I bought by Laura Nyro having heard covers by other artists first but preferring her versions, and it is my most potent, powerful piece of music that has the ability to catch my breath all these years later and I absolutely adore it!

  2. Pauline

    Thanks for the comment. It is good to know someone reads this nonsense, even if they don't agree with it.

    Re-reading the post I realise I came across as more dismissive of "New York Tendaberry" than I had intended. It is a very good record and tracks like "Time and Love" and "Captain Saint Lucifer" are among my favourites. But overall I am more likely to reach for "Eli & the Thirteenth Confession" or "Smile". In the book Michelle Kort theorises that some of Laura's music is more likely to speak to women than men because it taps into their own experience - maybe there is something in that.

    All the best


  3. How strange, I am just reading the Kort book which took some time (months) to arrive from Amazon!
    I think some of her later work is unfairly dismissed - "Mother's Spiritual" has always been one of my favourites, and some of "Walk the Dog and Light the Light" has it's moments.

    By the way, you mention Elizabeth Barraclough - I have her album from when it was given out by Dark Star magazine for renewing my subscription - many, many years ago.