A vote of confidence for a cd I just picked up called Time and Love, a tribute to Laura Nyro. I got flamed by a Laura Love fan a while back for opining that her recent cover of "Stoned Soul Picnic" was slavish and kind of weak. Well, THIS is the way to cover Laura Nyro. Jill Sobule does a cunning, off-centre version of the same song, and there are loads of little gems like it (Phoebe Snow, Jonatha Brooke) throughout the cd. Highly recommended.
I like Time and Love. I should, however, qualify it by confessing a degree of ignorance. My experience of Laura Nyro is confined to an anthology, a live album, and one of her later releases, so there were a few songs on Time and Love that I'd never even heard of. And, while I like her music, I couldn't swear I was a fan and, therefore, don't consider her sacrosanct or her music untouchable. I'm listening to the anthology ("Stoned Soul Picnic") now, and "Eli's Comin'" has just been and gone, and I still admire Lisa Germano's version. I guess I don't understand what "the spirit" of the song originally was. My experience with Jane Siberry, so far, has been far from positive, but I really liked what she did: I thought it was inventive, playful, honourable. There's a lot of versions on Time and Love that intrigue me and make me want to go back to hear the originals, which can only be a good thing, as far as I can see.
There are a few rather anonymous covers, I admit—I don't think Beth Nielsen Chapman's "stoney end", for instance, adds much to the original, and there are a couple of disappointments. I didn't care for Sweet Honey in the Rock's "and when I die" and I thought Leni Stern's elevator/cocktail lounge jazz take on "upstairs by a chinese lamp" was pretty dire, but I thought that, on the whole, this was a good take on Laura Nyro's music, as well as
being a good introduction to her stuff. My one overriding cavil is that I
just wish they had gotten some male artists to cover her stuff—using just
female artists strikes me as narrow-minded and self-defeating, denying the
fact that her music speaks across genders. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I'm a big Laura Nyro fan, and it was this tribute album that brought me to her. The collection is comprised of songs from Laura's first four albums (5 each from Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and The First Songs; 2 from New York Tendaberry and 1 from Christmas and the Beads of Sweat). The covers range from the pretty straightforward to more radical re-workings. Of the straightforward, highlights are the Jonatha Brooke, Patty Larkin, Rosanne Cash, and Beth Nielsen Chapman tracks. On the "radical" side, Jill Sobule's funky "Stoned Soul Picnic" is a definite standout, and I love Holly Cole's dark and sinister version of "Sweet Blindness" as much, if not more, than the original. I also really like Lisa Germano's strikingly original and dark "Eli's Comin'" and Leni Stern's instrumental "Upstairs By a Chinese Lamp." In short, it's a wonderful album for fans of Laura Nyro and/or fans of the artists involved.
Minor complaints: Although I enjoy Sweet Honey in the Rock's version of "And When I Die" (and I'm not a fan of theirs), I would have preferred that they choose a song they could sing as written (being a spiritual group, they changed some of the lines referring to God, heaven, and hell). Jane Siberry's medley is cute, but I would have liked to have heard what she did with one of Nyro's songs in its entirety. (JoAnn Whetsell)
I'm surprised to hear someone say that they enjoyed this CD of Laura Nyro covers, which I thought was jam-packed with duds. I agree that Jill Sobule's version of "Stoned Soul Picnic" was enjoyable, but in my opinion it was the ONLY highlight on this collection. Lisa Germano's funereal take on "Eli's Comin'" completely missed the essence of the song, and even though I love her, I must say that Jane Siberry's own composition/medley of Nyro's lyrics and melodies was just silly and superfluous. Even the better tracks on this album don't come close to the originals. (email@example.com)
Jane's contribution is an audio collage like her "Day in the Life" disc. Some find it very clever, others infuriating. (Neal)
The tribute as a whole didn't do that much for me, but I did love (maybe best of all) Holly Cole's "Sweet Blindness". (Neile)
I was really disappointed that the performers chose to go almost exclusively with Laura Nyro's hits—songs that have already been covered by the 5th Dimension, Barbra Streisand, and Blood Sweat and Tears, among others. In doing that they have eschewed some of her most wonderful songs, such as "Timer," "Emmie," "The Confession" and that song I can't remember the name of, the one that starts off, "My lover's mouth, been so good to me..." (Can you tell I'm a fan of Eli and the Thirteenth Confession?? :)) I guess someone did do my favorite song from that album, "Poverty Train." My point being, Laura Nyro's written a lot of great songs that no one's ever heard about, and now they will continue to not hear about them. And meanwhile, do we really need yet another version of Wedding Bell Blues?? (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For me, Patty Larkin's version of "Poverty Train" is the best piece, followed by Holly Cole's "Sweet Blindness". Patty Larkin does a wonderful, down and dirty, bluesy rendition. I'm not that familiar with her other work which I thought was more folk than blues.
I liked most of it. The big disappointments for me were Suzanne Vega's "buy and sell" and Jonatha Brooke's "he's a runner". I just thought they were boring. As always, your mileage may vary. (email@example.com)
It is a nice collection. I'm one of those heathens who vastly prefers the new arrangements to the originals, which sound just way too dated to me. And Jane Siberry's pastiche is a gem—only
she could pull something like that off! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I agree that this CD is a must-buy, *especially* for longtime Laura Nyro fans who know her music. It is a loving tribute album, one that Laura herself had a part in.
Interesting that songs that sounded "ahead of their time" when first released can now sound dated, even "way too dated." I don't mind "original" arrangements if they're done well. In fact, one of my faves on the album is done by Beth Nielsen Chapman, and it's done pretty much the way Laura Nyro did it; Beth's delivery is strong and true. Of the new arrangements, Lisa Germano's breathy "Eli's Coming" is a standout track.
Jane Siberry literally "la-dee-da's" her way through snippets of a few of Laura's better-known songs, making her contribution the weakest cut on the album. I LOVE Jane Siberry, as anyone who knows me is aware of, and I've tried and tried to accept this "pastiche." Interesting choice of words, as my dictionary defines "pastiche" as a "[...] musical piece openly imitating the previous works of other artists, often with satirical intent." Jane Siberry herself says in the liner notes (in so many words) that she couldn't think of how to contribute to the album to begin with, until this exercise came to her mind later. I submit that Jane Siberry should have followed her original thought and bowed out and let someone else do a fitting "tribute" to Laura Nyro. Instead, she came up with this exercise which to my ears sounds forced. (email@example.com)
Time and Love, the Laura Nyro tribute, is a real mix of good back and ugly. Not many can touch her music. Phoebe Snow, Suzanne Vega, Jill Sobule and Jane Siberry do a fine job. Really like Lisa Germano's stripped-down bare-bones version. You can keep the rest. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Personally, I did not find this album a tribute. Although most of it could not be called offensive, I just found it very lazily done. While I admit to being an ardent Laura Nyro fan and was unrealistic in expecting the tributes to sound more like her, I think it a shame that the performances are generally so devoid of the passion with which Laura sang!
Let's put it this way, I would hate for a person unfamiliar with Laura Nyro's work to be put off by thinking this album is a true representation. (111527@OVMAIL.kodak.com)
Jane Siberry's (bad) tribute to Laura Nyro from Time and Love: ugh. jane did a medley of Laura Nyro
songs, and it just sounded stupid and pretentious. much better is Jill Sobule's contribution, "Stoned Soul Picnic". also stand outs are Holly Cole's "Sweet Blindness", Suzanne Vega's "Buy and Sell", and Lisa Germano's "Eli's Comin'". and i love Laura Nyro. (email@example.com)