Recorded just a few years before her tragically early death at age 49, these performances at her annual Christmas Eve concerts at New York's Bottom Line find Laura revisiting her own stunning songs as well as cover songs she held close to her heart. These riveting, spare arrangements feature only voices and piano and include To a Child; And When I Die; Save the Country; Angel in the Dark; Wedding Bell Blues; Broken Rainbow; Wind; Emmie; Let It Be Me; Ooh Baby, Baby; Dedicated to the One I Love 24 impassioned performances on 2 CDs!
Most listeners were introduced to the songs of the late Laura Nyro through 1960s hits by the likes of the Fifth Dimension ("Wedding Bell Blues") and Blood, Sweat & Tears ("And When I Die"). Such mainstream exposure didn't hint at how strikingly (sometimes stridently) original and passionately obsessive her own performances could be. These 1993-94 recordings from Nyro's annual Christmas Eve concerts at New York's Bottom Line show her music in its most suitably intimate setting, backed only by a female harmony chorus and her spare piano accompaniment. Her incantatory rendition of "Save the Country" and her rapturous signature tune, "Emmie," find her early material maturing with her, while she transforms classic ballads such as the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" and Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby, Baby" into personal testament. Though some of her later songs are more didactic and narrowly focused--she plainly wasn't concerned about commercial potential with "Lite a Flame (The Animal Rights Song)" or "The Descent of Luna Rose" (her ode to the menstrual cycle)--her material retains its melodic warmth. In Nyro's musical progression, the soul sister and the earth mother became one. --Don McLeese