February 02, 1999
Pop/Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Soft Rock, AM Pop

Album Review

This entry into the Japan-only Premium Best series highlights the recordings of composer/performer Laura Nyro. Unlike other single-CD North American compilations, this 16-track disc gives sufficient time to her tragically underappreciated post-Smile recordings. Several of these titles are not even available on CD in the States, which is perhaps correlated to the seeming lack of interest. There are actually numerous advantages to this collection -- not the least of which is the artist-sensitive track list. Presumably the Premium Best series is aimed at the casual enthusiast, as the hardcore collector would either already own the contents or buy it anyway if they were a completist. By including seminal album sides such as the imperially haunting "New York Tendaberry" and "Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp," a more accurate overview of Nyro's career is presented here. There is a generous sampling from The First Songs (aka More Than a New Discovery), including many of her signature compositions that became international hits for other artists. "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Blowing Away" are key entries from the 5th Dimension. "And When I Die" became a hit for Blood, Sweat & Tears and likewise "Stoney End" is arguably best remembered by the Barbra Streisand cover version. Two of the most memorable inclusions in Eli and the Thirteenth Confession followed suit by becoming successful hits for Three Dog Night ("Eli's Comin'") and once again the 5th Dimension ("Stoned Soul Picnic"). Representing her acclaimed follow-up long-player, New York Tendaberry, are the previously mentioned title track as well as the single version of "Save the Country," which was uncharacteristically cut in Los Angeles with Bones Howe producing a Hal Blaine-led Wrecking Crew. By comparison, Nyro's final seven albums may not seem as amply represented. However, the tracks from the remainder of her catalog, at the very least, signify these timeless entries. Both Gonna Take a Miracle and Smile are represented by their respective title tracks, while the 1976 concert recording Season of Lights ("Sweet Blindness"), Nested ("Mr. Blue"), Mother's Spiritual ("To a Child"), and Walk the Dog & Light the Light ("A Woman of the World") are embodied by their individual submissions. Once again the Japanese beat U.S. releases to the punch.
Lindsay Planer, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Save the Country [Single Mix]
  2. Eli's Comin'
  3. Stoned Soul Picnic
  4. New York Tendaberry
  5. Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp
  6. It's Gonna Take a Miracle
  7. Wedding Bell Blues
  8. And When I Die
  9. Blowin' Away
  10. Stoney End
  11. Smile
  12. Sweet Blindness [Live]
  13. Mr. Blue
  14. Mother's Spiritual
  15. To a Child
  16. A Woman of the World