Sassafras & Moonshine: The Songs of Laura Nyro

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Laura Nyro was justly regarded as one of the finest songwriters of the 1960s and '70s, a tunesmith whose melodic fusion of pop, soul, jazz, and folk dovetailed brilliantly with her passionate, distinctly literate lyrics. But the great paradox of Nyro's career was that her albums were widely thought to be too personal and esoteric to appeal to a mass audience, while the same songs were often major successes when covered by other artists -- Three Dog Night scored a big hit with "Eli's Coming," Blood, Sweat & Tears charted high with "And When I Die," Barbra Streisand enjoyed what was both a hit single and her most credible stab at rock & roll with "Stoney End," and the...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Laura Nyro was justly regarded as one of the finest songwriters of the 1960s and '70s, a tunesmith whose melodic fusion of pop, soul, jazz, and folk dovetailed brilliantly with her passionate, distinctly literate lyrics. But the great paradox of Nyro's career was that her albums were widely thought to be too personal and esoteric to appeal to a mass audience, while the same songs were often major successes when covered by other artists -- Three Dog Night scored a big hit with "Eli's Coming," Blood, Sweat & Tears charted high with "And When I Die," Barbra Streisand enjoyed what was both a hit single and her most credible stab at rock & roll with "Stoney End," and the 5th Dimension practically made a career out of covering Nyro, hitting the charts with "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Blowin' Away," and "Save the Country." Nyro fared so well at the hands of other artists that Ace Records has compiled 20 worthy interpretations of her songs on the collection Sassafras & Moonshine: The Songs of Laura Nyro. One could easily assemble a very enjoyable album out of the many covers of Nyro's songs that were hits in her heyday, but the expense of licensing those recordings prevented them from appearing on this disc (the one selection by the 5th Dimension included here was their lowest-charting Nyro cover, "Sweet Blindness"). This drawback, however, has resulted in an album that ultimately offers a broader picture of Nyro's influence and the stylistic diversity of her work. While most of these performers focus on the pop and R&B facets of Nyro's music, Sassafras & Moonshine features several selections where the jazz subtext of her songs is drawn to the surface, and Chris Connor's "I Never Meant to Hurt You," Tuck & Patti's "Captain for Dark Mornings," and Laura Zakian's "Billy's Blues" all bring a subtle but telling sensuality to the deep moods of Nyro's songs about love. And as is often the case with Ace's songwriter-focused compilations, they've uncovered some fine overlooked sides, particularly the Staple Singers' rich version of "Stoned Soul Picnic," Carmen McRae's Southern soul remake of "Goodbye Joe," a sexy take on "Wedding Bell Blues" from Bobbie Gentry, and Esther Marrow's ferocious workout on "And When I Die." Sassafras & Moonshine is hardly the last word on the work of Laura Nyro as seen through the eyes of other musicians, but it's a splendid reminder of just how powerful her songs were (and still are), and how well they adapt to the voices and attitudes of others.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/2/2012
  • Label: Big Beat Uk
  • UPC: 029667049627
  • Catalog Number: 6704962
  • Sales rank: 49,547

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Sweet Blindness - The 5th Dimension (3:25)
  2. 2 Stoned Soul Picnic - The Staple Singers (3:36)
  3. 3 Save the Country - Thelma Houston (2:45)
  4. 4 Captain St Lucifer - Melba Moore (3:20)
  5. 5 Stoney End - The Blossoms (3:11)
  6. 6 Wedding Bell Blues - Bobbie Gentry (3:14)
  7. 7 Goodbye Joe - Carmen McRae (2:36)
  8. 8 Time and Love - The Supremes (4:07)
  9. 9 And When I Die - Queen Esther Marrow (4:57)
  10. 10 I Never Meant To Hurt You - Chris Connor (3:48)
  11. 11 Lu - Peggy Lipton (2:26)
  12. 12 Lazy Susan - Liane Carroll (3:20)
  13. 13 He's a Runner - Mama Cass (3:39)
  14. 14 Buy and Sell - Nnenna Freelon (5:30)
  15. 15 Captain For Dark Mornings - Tuck & Patti (4:24)
  16. 16 Billy's Blues - Laura Zakian (5:23)
  17. 17 Emmie - Ronnie Dyson (3:15)
  18. 18 Eli's Comin' - The Friends of Distinction (4:14)
  19. 19 Lonely Women - Linda Hoyle (4:03)
  20. 20 Blackpatch - Judy Kuhn (3:24)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Charles Calello Conductor
Ray Cork Jr. Conductor
Arif Mardin Conductor
Jimmy Haskell Conductor
Technical Credits
Steve Cropper Producer
Laura Nyro Composer
Bill Holman Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
Nnenna Freelon Producer
Gene Page Arranger
Michael Abene Arranger, Producer
Lou Adler Producer
Bob Alcivar Vocal Arrangements
Steve Barri Producer
Charles Calello Arranger
Patti Cathcart Producer
Ray Cork Jr. Arranger
John Florez Producer
Jim Fragale Producer
Bobbie Gentry Producer
Jimmie Haskell Arranger
David Hentschel Producer
Bones Howe Producer
Billy Jackson Producer
Helen Keane Producer
Clarence McDonald Vocal Arrangements
Arif Mardin Arranger, Producer
Queen Esther Marrow Producer
Joel Moss Producer
Ray Pohlman rhythm arrangement
Nick Robbins Mastering
Tommy Oliver Arranger
Tony Rounce Contribution
Dean Rudland Contribution
Frank Wilson Producer
Gretchen Hoffmann Abene Producer
Malcolm Baumgart Liner Notes, Contribution
Jim Rein Producer
Mick Patrick Liner Notes, Contribution
Liane Carroll Arranger, Producer
Jimmy Haskell Arranger
Jeffrey Klitz Producer, Music Direction
Joe Sill Producer
Neal Richardson Producer
Bernard Purdie Arranger
Pete King Producer
Michele Kort Liner Notes
Laura Zakian & Trio Arranger
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