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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most comprehensive Nyro set available
Laura Nyro was ahead of her time. She wrote numerous hits, most of which appeared on her first two albums MORE THAN A NEW DISCOVERY (1967) and ELI AND THE THIRTEENTH CONFESSION (1968). The female singer-songwriter wasn't yet in vogue though, and it would be others that turned Nyro's songs into hits. Those others included Blood Sweat & Tears with "And When I Die,"...
Published on April 25, 2003 by James E. Bagley

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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best! Sony - Call Rhino, Quick!
Bottomline line up front - some good stuff, for sure, but don't buy this thinking you're getting "the best" of Laura. No problem with the music or production - more accurately, this 2 disc package is just some of Nyro's best, and the ommissions are so numerous, it gets a three star rating because it could have been soooo much more... Where's "I Never Meant to Hurt You",...
Published on June 26, 2002 by John R. Jones Jr.


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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most comprehensive Nyro set available, April 25, 2003
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
Laura Nyro was ahead of her time. She wrote numerous hits, most of which appeared on her first two albums MORE THAN A NEW DISCOVERY (1967) and ELI AND THE THIRTEENTH CONFESSION (1968). The female singer-songwriter wasn't yet in vogue though, and it would be others that turned Nyro's songs into hits. Those others included Blood Sweat & Tears with "And When I Die," Barbra Streisand with "Stoney End," Three Dog Night with "Eli's Coming," and most prolifically, the 5th Dimension, who had major hits with "Wedding Bell Blues," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Sweet Blindness," "Blowing Away," and "Save The Country."
Nyro's studio versions of all of the above (except "Sweet Blindness") appear on disc one of this 34-track, two-disc set. They make a strong case for Nyro deserving the massive success which eluded her and came instead to Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Carly Simon in the early '70s.
The originality of these songs in both lyric content and arrangement is stunning. What is even more amazing is that Nyro wrote all of those hit songs before she turned 21. Yet like her male counterpart, Jimmy Webb, Nyro clearly peaked at the beginning of her career. By the '70s, she wasn't even able to write songs that became hits for others. It is telling that the best recordings on disc two of this set were written by others.
These two tracks (in collaboration with the group Labelle) come from the remake-packed GONNA TAKW A MIRACLE album from 1971. The harmonies Nyro and Labelle weave on the Shirelle's "I Met Him On A Sunday" and the Originals' "The Bells" are gorgeous and leave the listener wishing for more from that stellar album.
Instead, on the remainder of disc two we get a hodgepodge of studio and live recordings made between 1976 and 1993 that are usually pleasant but rarely memorable. And Nyro's unattractive propensity for shrieking seemed to increase over the years as well, particularly on live recordings.
STONED SOUL PICNIC will certainly appeal to diehard Nyro fans. The single disc retrospective TIME AND LOVE: THE ESSENTIAL MASTERS (which captures all of the early highlights), plus the GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE reissue, however, are far better suited to the casual fan and the general female singer-songwriter enthusiast. Check them out.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gone but not forgotten, January 30, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
I first heard the haunting voice of Laura Nyro about 25 years ago when I was growing up on Okinawa, an Air Force "brat." My older brother, an amateur musician at the time, had albums from an assortment of artists that I might not have otherwise been exposed to as an African-American teen. When no one was home (and that wasn't often with eight of us) I'd sit in the living room for hours listening to Stoned Soul Pinic, Stoney End and Eli (although I must confess I didn't really understand Eli until several years -- and several relationships later.) Laura's music touched my soul like few artists have. It's a shame that she was called away so soon, and that she did not get the recognition she deserved...I heard that wonderful voice again a few years ago in my car scanning the radio by chance. I was surprised that she was being played. Then I understood... Laura, the annoucer said, had died. Her music was being played as a tribute...I cried as I was carried back to my living room on Okinawa. I had lost a childhood friend.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Place to Start, September 21, 2001
By 
Musings (Illinois United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
When we discuss female singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon are the first to come up -- but the late Laura Nyro is only occasionally mentioned. Thought of first as a songwriter -- she penned songs that would become hits for The 5th Dimension, Blood Sweat and Tears, Three Dog Night, and Barbra Streisand -- her own recordings are often slighted as a result. (I believe her biggest solo single was actually a remake of "It's Gonna Take a Miracle.") Fear of performing based upon her appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival and occasional bouts with writer's block kept her from becoming a household name.
This two-disc CD, programmed by Nyro herself, is a great place for the neophyte to begin their collection. (I myself started with "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession," which my wife bought two years ago.) It contains studio versions of all her best-known songs save "Sweet Blindness," plus several live tracks. I could quibble with the song selection -- do we really need live *and* studio versions of "Save the Country"? -- but it represents all of her various albums over the years, and the songs are her choices, which counts for something. I especially took delight in some of the later songs -- I'm quite sure Teena Marie, for example, gave "Mr. Blue" a few dozen listens before writing some of her ballads. And what a beautiful version of Marvin Gaye's "The Bells," performed here with LaBelle (Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash, Nona Hendryx), post-"I Sold My Heart to the Junkman," pre-"Lady Marmalade".
Please start here, and then move on to her other CDs. I know I plan to.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good but sadly, not the definitive career retrospective, February 9, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
If you love Laura Nyro's music and want everything she's done that is truly wonderful and memorable, my advice is to go out and get her first five original albums ("The First Songs", "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession", "New York Tendeberry", "Christmas and the Beads of Sweat" and "Gonna Take A Miracle (with Labelle)". Every one of them is outstanding and makes essential listening. Collectively, they represent the best music Laura ever made. Forget about a definitive career retrospective because there is none available that does justice to her incredible musical legacy. "Time & Love - The Essential Masters" draws only upon her most famous songs and is too condensed with far too many omissions to satisfy all but the most casual of fans. Columbia had a fair crack at it with "Stoned Soul Picnic : The Best Of Laura Nyro" but in attempting to cover too much ground, they were (again) forced to cram only the choiciest picks from her most fertile (late 60s) recording era into the first CD when at least half of the space on the second CD could have been released for more potent stuff from this same period. I suppose Columbia felt obliged to give fair representation to her late 70s, 80s and 90s career by dedicating most of CD2 to songs which aren't by any means bad but pale in comparison to the earlier stuff. As a result and ironically, we have an imbalanced set and fans are likely to feel let down by the inferior quality of CD2 after the heady high of CD1, which cut for cut matches the very best of any female singer songwriter of the times. Try playing the 2 CDs on separate occasions. CD2 might sound better. Until then, save your money for the time Columbia decides to give Laura the boxed set treatment. Either that or shell out for her first five original albums. They're all available, some remastered with bonus tracks.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long-overdue collection for an eccentric, masterful artist., January 22, 1999
By 
D. Mok (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
Nobody captures either the feminine spirit or the feeling of New York better than Laura Nyro: Themes of love, self-doubt, spirituality and sexuality blend seamlessly with politics, racial amalgamation and urban poetry on this collection.
While most listeners are familiar with Nyro because of her slew of '60s hits covered by others -- "Stoned Soul Picnic", "Stoney End", "And When I Die", "Blowin' Away" and the #1 hit "Wedding Bell Blues" -- her less well known work is faithfully represented here. "Captain St. Lucifer" and "Lu" from the ambitious New York Tendaberry album (1969); "Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp", Nyro's most openly sensual and romantic song, from the underrated Christmas and the Beads of Sweat album (1970); her later, more mature work on Walk the Dog and Light the Light (1993) including songs like "Broken Rainbow" and "A Woman of the World". Nyro's gift was mixing tricky jazz structures with soul stylings; arrangements that combine R&B, country and blues, among other things; lyrics as deep, poetic and laden with meaning as any folk songwriter's; and an edge of darkness that prevents her best work from ever being cheaply sentimental or whimsical.
Though Stoned Soul Picnic is just a two-CD set and doesn't quite match up to a complete Nyro library (at least two of her releases, 1978's Nested and 1989's Live at the Bottom Line, are not available on CD), it's the best sampler for an initiate who wishes to enter the rich imaginative landscape of "The Bronx Bronte".
There's a reason why women ranging from Suzanne Vega to The Roches, from Rosanne Cash to Nina Simone, feel that they owe Laura Nyro an artistic debt -- for giving music a voice for the eternal feminine which, despite its firm trenching in the female psyche, remains curiously and intoxicatingly universal.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Best! Sony - Call Rhino, Quick!, June 26, 2002
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
Bottomline line up front - some good stuff, for sure, but don't buy this thinking you're getting "the best" of Laura. No problem with the music or production - more accurately, this 2 disc package is just some of Nyro's best, and the ommissions are so numerous, it gets a three star rating because it could have been soooo much more... Where's "I Never Meant to Hurt You", "Good By Joe", "He's a Runner", "Flim Flam Man", "Luckie", "Tom Cat Goodby", "Mercy On Broadway", "Time and Love", "The Man Who Sends Me Home", "Sweet Lovin' Baby", "Brown Earth", "Up On the Roof", "Jimmy Mack", "It's Gonna Take a Miracle", "Sexy Mama", "Rhythm and Blues", "The Sweet Sky", etc. etc. etc. In other words, where are the rest of the songs this collection should have included?
Come on, Sony, give Laura her due - she deserves a REAL box set. Nyro's work has been tested by time and has proven itself by winning new fans from younger generations. If you can't produce, give the project over to Rhino or Bear - the world is waiting for a solid, lovingly remastered collection from this very talented yet under represented artist.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laura Nyro Deserved a Full-Blown Boxed Set!, July 30, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
Disc #1 is a definite "5" and serves to cement the popular opinion that Laura Nyro's 1966-70 works were the product of a womanchild genius. Unfortunately, disc #2 is not as good - not because Laura didn't produce some gems during the subsequent 20-plus years (She did.), but because the songs selected (sadly, by the artist herself...not always a good idea) for this disc concentrate too heavily on her final studio album (the disappointing "Walk the Dog and Light the Light") and two bonus, loungy-sounding live cuts (which really add nothing to the originals), rather than the wonderful mid-70s records she produced ("Smile" and "Nested"), from which only two songs appear - and not the best ones. Also, shame on Columbia/Sony for not including anything from Laura's excellent "Live at the Bottom Line," which she ended up releasing on the second-rate Cypress label, because Columbia balked. Just one more reason why record companies suck.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars laura's comin', July 5, 2004
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
My first encounter with Laura Nyro occured in 1978 when, armed with a few extra dollars and a desire to expand my vinyl record collection, I came across a gleaming review of her newly released LP, 'Nested', in an issue of Rolling Stone magazine. I wouldn't say I was surprised that the album was as good as it turned out to be as I had some peripheral awareness of her talents, especially as a songwriter. I was sufficiently impressed however to also pick up the live album she had released a year previous, 'Season of Lights', and was pretty content with that little corner on Nyro's catalog.
Twenty-six years later I'm looking to expand my CD collection, and find myself suffering a dearth of female artists. Truth be told, if I were able I would have picked up CD copies of 'Nested' and 'Season of Lights' once again, but unfortunately both are not available (go figure). The only place I could find to pick up any of those tracks, and slim-pickings it was, was on this fine retrospective.
Laura Nyro was, in my opinion, at her best when she produced blue-eyed soul, which for the most part encompassed her first two albums, 'First Songs' and 'Eli and the Thirteenth Confession'. By the time 'New York Tendaberry' was released, Nyro and her work had evolved into much more progessive, less easily pigeonholed fare. There was a good deal of blues, jazz and classical elements taking a more dominant theme, and her lyrics sacrificed tender romantic images for difficult to comprehend abstractions. I suppose it's a matter of taste as to which appeals the most, but for me, songs such as 'Wedding Bell Blues', 'Stoney End', 'And When I Die', 'Eli's Comin', 'Sweet Blindness', and 'Stoned Soul Picnic' (though I have no idea what a surry is, other than a slang marriage of 'so' and 'hurry') are the ones to relish. Nyro herself refers to her 'New York Tendaberry' period as a time of "very wild exploration", and I'm a bit too limited to follow the unbeaten path she treads.
In 1970 Nyro returned to her roots, tapping one of the masters of blue-eyed soul, Felix Cavaliere of The Young Rascals, to produce and play on her 'Christmas and the Beads of Sweat' release. Songs such as 'When I Was a Freeport and You Were the Main Drag' harkened back, even to the extent of having no idea what a 'Freeport' is.
One can question why Nyro did not have Top 40 success with her compositions, which artists such as 'Blood Sweat and Tears' ('And When I Die') and Three Dog Night ('Eli's Comin') parlayed into major hits. Nyro is not lacking in vocal talent, though the arrangements and tempo others put to Nyro's compositions may be more appealing. Nyro is not inhibited about expressing her feminist/feminine perspectives however, and this may have limited her capacity to attract a mass following. While it's accepted for women to traverse the gender divide in appreciating art, men are less comfortable or even likely to consider the female perspective, making it difficult for songs focusing on "nightgowns" and "lipstick" ('Blackpatch') or "the broken dishes of our love" ('Mr. Blue') to gain mass appeal. Whatever the reason, it is difficult to see why Nyro's renditions of these great songs never made a Top 40 ascent.
One can also question Nyro's own choices for the songs featured on 'the best of laura nyro'. The focus is squarely on her first four releases, marketed between 1967 and 1970, and her final release in 1993. 'Eli and the Thirteenth Confession' draws the most attention, claiming 7 tracks on the 34 track compilation if you include the single version of 'Save the Country'. Twenty-four songs are drawn from these 5 albums. There are two unreleased live recordings, but only 8 selections from Laura's 5 mid-career albums. Since the two unreleased live recordings repeat studio tracks already on the CD, you would think some of Nyro's other work, such as 'My Innocence' and 'The Sweet Sky' from 'Nested' would have produced a more balanced and appealing second disc. Similarly, it is hard to justify 5 tracks from her last recording, 'Walk the Dog and Light the Light'.
Laura Nyro has to be one of the most underrated and underappreciated artists of the second half of the twentieth century. This retrospective makes a good effort to rectify her omission, but could have made an even better case for her inclusion among the elite artists of her day.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lacked some of my favorites, August 18, 1998
By 
Gloria Maitre (Victorville, Ca USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
While it was wonderful to hear that clear, clean voice (she doesn't need gimmicks), I was looking forward to hearing some of my personal favorites from her first album. While many songs that I love are represented here, I had to buy the "First Songs" CD also to round it out. But wait, I should focus on what was represented instead of what was missing. While her songs have long been a favorite of such diverse artists as Three Dog Night, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and Barbra Streisand, there is nothing that can compare to the artists renditions of her own work. To anyone who likes good songs, heartfelt lyrics with a heartful of soul and a little jazz thrown in for good measure, Laura Nyro is for you. Look at what's included on these CD'S and see just how many you recognize. Then listen to them in her voice. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Collection--But Short of Ideal, June 12, 2004
This review is from: Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro (Audio CD)
Laura Nyro (1947-1997) originally made her name as the author of a host of tightly written pop songs that hit big when covered by other artists--but she quickly evolved into an uncompromising artist who wrote without significant concern for popular taste. The result was a series of albums that proved too advanced for most listeners, and although she received tremendous critical attention and developed a powerful cult following, she would never be a commercial pop star in any sense of the phrase.
This double disk compilation collects what I would call the "obvious" Nyro recordings from such releases as THE FIRST SONGS, ELI AND THE THIRTEENTH CONFESSION, NEW YORK TENDABERRY, GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE, and CHRISTMAS AND THE BEADS OF SWEAT--and if you have never before encountered Nyro, or if you have only a limited interest, it is a good place to start. But established fans may be somewhat disappointed.
Simply stated, nothing short of a full box set could do justice to an artist of Nyro's caliber, and this particular collection makes the mistake of duplicating certain songs in both studio and live versions--not a bad idea per se, but not a good one when it leads to the exclusion of such essential recordings as "Brown Earth," to name but one. And even Nyro newcomers are likely to find the second CD a bit weak in terms of content. Still, all the recordings sound great, and if you really don't want to go to the effort or expense of purchasing Nyro's work in full, STONED SOUL PICNIC will do nicely until a better thought out Nyro compilation comes along.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro
Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro by Laura Nyro (Audio CD - 1997)
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