Friday, July 6, 2012

Laura Nyro - Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968)

Taking a break from posting the music of summer, I've decided to do a short section on some fine songwriters of the 60s and 70s. Typically considered singer/songwriter Laura Nyro's finest album, it's amazing to note that she was only twenty-one years old when Eli and the Thirteenth Confession was released in 1968. The immense amount of influences from a variety of genres is what makes Nyro's album timeless. Even if Nyro's music fits in a pop sensibility, it's difficult not to notice the influence of various forms of jazz. Tracks like "Sweet Blindness" harken back to the roots of jazz with a Dixieland-esque sound with the way the various vocal parts contain melodic and counter-melodic parts. The entrance of the horns only further cements this "reading" of this track. Furthermore, tracks like the famous "Eli's Coming" fit right into the world of jazz-rock with its fast paced tempo and backups with the horns. This song was covered by many people in its day with jazz-rock interpretations by names such as Don Ellis on Don Ellis Goes Underground and Maynard Ferguson on M.F. Horn I. Covers of Nyro's song are very common as the track "Stoned Soul Picnic" was famously covered by The Fifth Dimension. In this way, Nyro is a great example of an important, influential figure that is relatively unknown by the general public. In many ways, you could also say Nyro paved the way for artists with eclectic styles that would come in the near future.



  2. Any comment re: the music of ELI should illustrate the influence of Tin Pan Alley. The coda of "Emmie" and "Timer" (save the changes) is classic Tin Pan Alley, I.e. Cakewalk. Timer is musically a walk/march giving way to a strut and a flourish, Cakewalk.