Laura Nyro – The First Songs

This is an odd album simply because it already existed under a different title when it was released. This is the 1973 reissue of the record. It was originally issued as her debut album More Than A New Discovery on Verve Records in 1967. But when Columbia Records purchased Nyro’s back catalog they reissued this album as The First Songs. The only notable difference between the two releases is the running order and one title change. On The First Songs “Hands Off the Man” has been changed to “Flim Flam Man.”

One of the greatest things about this album are the arrangements, however Laura did not arrange the record herself even though she was a very talented pianist at the age of 19 when the sessions started for this record. Herb Bernstein’s arrangements are in keeping with the sounds of ’66. They are lush and varied propelling Nyro’s voice to incredible heights.

It’s hard to describe how perfect this album is. It contained the most hits for other artists who began to cover Laura’s tunes in abundance. In fact, her recording contract was sealed when she supplied “And When I Die” for Peter Paul and Mary. Barbra Streisand covered “Stoney End” and “I Never Meant To Hurt You.” Fifth Dimension recorded “Wedding Bell Blues” and “Blowing Away.” “And When I Die” also became a staple for Blood, Sweat & Tears. Obviously this newcomer to the scene made an instant impact.

While these dozen songs have a distinct sixties sound to them, the tunes here are timeless. They always sound fresh to me. Each one showcases a different side of Nyro. This is an incredible repertoire for such a young songwriter. While no track stands out more than another, “Lazy Susan” and “Stoney End” are two of my favorites.

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