A glorious US Release of a 1994 live concert from Laura Nyro…
Laura Nyro – Trees of Ages/ Laura Nyro Live in Japan – Omnivore Recordings OVCD-431- 1994 – CD – 64:57 – *****
We lost a national treasure when Laura Nyro died of ovarian cancer at age 49, in April, 1997. Laura’s passionate voice, and her song lyrics that dealt with both affairs of the heart, as well as social and environmental issues, still resonate today. She began her career at age 18, and created an immediate stir with spare piano accompaniment, and vocal range and presentation, wise beyond her years. Blending gospel, folk, pop, with the power of a Broadway chanteuse, Nyro could do it all. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, her influence rivaled that of Joni Mitchell, while Laura was in her prime. Just as important, her compositions have stood the test of time, and were hits for The Fifth Dimension, Three Dog Night, Barbra Streisand, and many others. Just a small list include “Stone Soul Picnic,” “Save the Country,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” and “Eli’s Coming.”
Late in her career (three years before her death), Laura toured Japan in 1994. Her concert at Kintetsu Hall, 2/22/94, was recorded (Live in Japan), but was only released in that country. Omnivore Recordings, a boutique label specializing in rare and archival music, has just released the concert on a CD, that also includes five tracks, recorded for On Air West in Tokyo, recorded several days earlier.
The reissue has been remastered in superb acoustics by Michael Graves, at Osiris Studio, in LA.
Nyro’s voice and piano have an upfront presence, and her three women harmony group (Diane Wilson, Dian Sorell, and Diane Garisto), both provide soulful backing, and help invigorate the arrangements. Some of Nyro’s best work involved back-up singers (especially a young Patti LaBelle), and here the Three Dianes clearly inspire Laura. The Japanese audience is quietly respectful, and seemed to appreciate Laura’s attempt to speak some Japanese, mostly thanking them for attending.
The song list is iconic Nyro classics, mixed with lesser known material covering new age themes, animal rights, and social commentary. There are also several covers of songs that Laura makes her own, such as “Dedicated to the One I Love,” Smokey Robinson’s “Ooh Baby Baby,” “Let It Be Me,” Phil Spector’s “Oh Yeah Maybe Baby,” and the Bacharach/David classic, “Walk on By,” made famous by Dionne Warwick. (Nyro’s version is a close second…)
At nearly an hour it’s a joyous revisiting of her inimitable talents. It brought tears to my eyes to hear her emote on “And When I Die,” knowing that she would be gone from us just three years later. “…And one child will be born (her son, Gil Bianchini?) and the world will carry on..”
Also deeply moving is her blue eye soul mastery of doo wop melodies, and gospel inflections. A true “earth mother,” she left a legacy and an aura that would be hard to replicate. Her life and songbook surely deserve a Broadway musical treatment.
Still to come, in a September release by Omnivore, is a previously unreleased 1966 audition tape recording, that will surely be a collectors’ item for her fans. I can hardly wait…
Dedicated to the One I Love
Ooh Baby Baby
A Woman of the World
Lite a Flame (The Animal Rights Song)
Walk the Dog and Light the Light (Song of the Road)
The Japanese Restaurant Song
And When I Die
To a Child
The Descent of Luna Rose
Save the Country
Wedding Bell Blues
Trees of the Ages/Emmie
Walk on By
Let It Be Me
Oh Yeah Maybe Baby (The Heebie Jeebies)
Art of Love
For more information, please visit Omnivore Recordings website: