Laura Nyro follows my pattern of discovering bands I like only to find out they've recently split up - only since she's a solo artist, she couldn't split up, so she died a few months before I heard of her.
I actually have to credit my brother (and I don't say that often) for the fact I heard her at all. He bought a Fifth Dimension record and as we bopped around the room to that, I noticed that 75% of the songs on the album were written by Laura Nyro.
So many people have had success with Laura Nyro songs that it seems rather unfair that she never did. Especially since other artists' versions of her songs pale in comparison with her own recordings (even though I've never heard a bad cover version of anything of hers). Her sole encounter with the charts was a cover of Up On The Roof which peaked at #92. While I like that, it's nowhere near the best thing she ever recorded. In fact, pretty much every song she ever wrote outstrips that by a country mile. It's incredibly hard to pick just a few of her songs to illustrate her greatness since they're all so fantastic. She's been acknowledged as an influence on the likes of Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones and Suzanne Vega, so there's something else I'm grateful to her for.
Here are three of her best (but let's face it, they're all her best!). The first was written when she was just 17 - can you believe it?
Laura Nyro - And When I Die mp3 (available for 7 days)
Laura Nyro - Stoney End mp3 (available for 7 days)
Laura Nyro - Sweet Blindness mp3 (available for 7 days)
What a voice, and never have tempo changes been better used. You can do yourself a favour and go and buy albums by Laura Nyro as soon as possible.
When We Rise - A cast of young unknowns steal the show in this honest, angry look at the rise of the modern gay movement.
1 hour ago