Rhinofy-Laura Nyro Primer


A hit for the 5th Dimension, I always preferred Laura’s take.

It’s the simple piano intro, which draws you in, you know you’re gonna hear a story. Great music swings, there’s something more than the notes. “Wedding Bell Blues” is a performance, something that picks you up and carries you away. You get the message without even comprehending the lyrics.


It’s the same song that David Clayton Thomas made famous with Blood, Sweat & Tears, but it’s not a snappy jazz number, but rather a cabaret tour-de-force. Nyro’s voice is not as good as the Canadian’s, but this proves it’s not about your pipes, but your delivery!


A hit for Barbra Streisand, Babs made it about her, whereas Laura lets the song itself shine, she’s in service to it as opposed to dominating it.


I’ll admit “More Than A New Discovery,” Laura Nyro’s debut, was not my first purchase. But I went back to it after loving what came after. And needing more, a further hit of the city songstress, I played it ’til I knew it by heart, and even though some of the songs were not radio hits, they became personal favorites, like this. You’ll get it in one listen, and it pays further dividends thereafter. Laura Nyro was accessible, what a concept!


It was with “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” that Nyro started to get personal recognition. The cognoscenti glommed on and started to spread the word. The sound was different, “Eli” was coproduced by Laura and Charlie Calello as opposed to Milt Okun, who’d done the debut, it was rough where the debut was slick. It’s not that there were imperfections, it’s just that the screen went from 35mm to 70mm. There was a bigger paintbox, a broader sound, you could tell the artist was in control.

“Poverty Train” is the centerpiece of the album, even though it was never a hit. This was back when artists had to take a stand, which side were you on, if you weren’t on any at all you were about to be left behind. President Johnson had his Great Society and we cared about the underprivileged, as opposed to seeing them as grifters sucking at the tit of government as so many do now. “Poverty Train” is just as powerful today, if a young ‘un cut it, it would be a sensation.


Can you surry?

A walk in the park, a Saturday afternoon reflection as opposed to the in-your-face 5th Dimension hit, Laura’s take had more soul.


A hit for Three Dog Night. Laura was the Bob Dylan of the late sixties, a talented artist in her own right who first became famous through covers, never mind wealthy.

Three Dog Night is male and bombastic, whereas Laura’s iteration is an east coast frenzy, you can see the women dancing, and you want to too!


Almost a girl group number, there’s so much energy and fun in this…it’s infectious! Laura could be pop and deep alternately, sometimes at the same time!

This is one of the songs you instantly memorize and want to sing along with.


If you don’t fall in love with the vocalist, you’ve been neutered.

The media says we fall in love with the exterior, but the truth is it’s the inner spark that draws us in and keeps us attached. Laura sounds so ALIVE here!


“Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” was an album, not just hits and filler. The “secondary” tracks had as much magic as the primary. You could see “Emmie” when you listened.


“Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” is Laura Nyro’s most accessible album, full of hits with her own sound, but “New York Tendaberry” is her masterpiece. Nearly forgotten because it contained only one cover hit, “Tendaberry” is an album that pays more rewards the more you listen.

“Captain For Dark Mornings” is the key track, the raw emotion grabs you and keeps you listening. It’s quiet, you lean in to get more, the greatest stuff doesn’t necessarily beat you over the head and force you to pay attention. We live in the era of marketing, but it’s gems like “Captain For Dark Mornings” that penetrate, get a hold on you and never let go. This brings back memories of back when yet still makes me reflect on today.

Utterly astounding.



On “Captain For Dark Mornings” Laura is quiet and intimate, whereas here she’s belting and swinging and you can’t help but be caught up in it.

That’s the magic of Laura Nyro. She was famous for the pop hits, she didn’t feature loud guitars, but those who loved harder sounds embraced her too, we were all excited about music, our only criterion was that it be good, and Laura Nyro was GREAT!


Like “Flim Flam Man” or “Emmie,” “Gibsom Street” is just an album track, but it’s as powerful as the hits.

“Gibsom Street” is a journey, a story. It’s the kind of thing that wraps its arms around you late at night, when a record is playing on the stereo to keep you connected, it makes you feel like you’re not the only unique, misunderstood person on this planet.


We could use this sentiment today.

Once again, Laura’s iteration swings in a way the 5th Dimension’s does not. Just one woman and her piano. But then it accelerates and becomes intense and when the side ends and you’re confronted with silence you feel like life has left the building and you’ve got to lift the needle and play this album again in order to root yourself.


Covered by Barbra Streisand, this, like “Save The Country,” is classic Nyro pop, the type that can be covered and made ubiquitous. It’s very good, but what is amazing is that Laura could put it and the dark tunes on the same album, evidence all sides of her personality at such a high level when today they get you in your lane and tell you not to change.


Now my favorite track on the album. It goes through my head when I’m at loose ends. Like on my fiftieth birthday, I came home from my party and played it. It’s not about the lyrics, but the feel, the emotion. Someone’s home. Someone with more questions than answers. I don’t like being at loose ends, but listening to this track I know I’m not the only one. Music can make you dance, can make you forget your problems, but it’s stuff like this that I like best.


How do you follow up your masterpiece?

“New York Tendaberry” was not an instant listen, but with each successive play you liked it more and more. You kept playing “Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat” waiting for it to reveal itself, to like it as much, but that did not happen.

This track is the classic Nyro sound, the most obvious. But too obscure for anybody to turn into a hit.


An eight minute adventure, in an era where people were truly stretching out, you get hooked as it plays on.


Every year I used to get an e-mail from Desmond Child during the holiday season about Laura Nyro and this song until I stopped publishing them, but that does not mean he’s not still affected, nor me.

This is my Christmas song.

Christmas is a rough time, for those of us prone to falling down emotionally. We ride it out on tenterhooks. Hoping to make it through to the new year without taking our lives.

Who’s going to ride shotgun when you’re not a winner, when you’re overwhelmed with the b.s., when you want to keep moving but you’re in stasis?

Used to be we counted on our artists, before you had to be upbeat to be popular and the songs were written by committee and everybody was a winner.

Funny about Laura Nyro… Her music faded away long before she did. It’s like those in charge don’t want to admit someone could be so good. We used to live on the mountaintop, and Laura Nyro was a queen, who consoled us without imploring us, who made us feel part of a tribe, who illustrated life is about loss as well as victory. She was a beacon. To those who felt the brightness of her light, she still is.

Rhinofy-Laura Nyro Primer

Comments are closed