Laura Nyro

Time and Love: The Essential Masters

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As a 16-song, single-disc best-of, this does the job very nicely for those who want Nyro's best and most famous songs in one place. Only nine tracks into the CD you've already heard "Sweet Blindness," "Wedding Bell Blues," "And When I Die," "Blowin' Away," "Eli's Comin'," "Stoney End," and "Stoned Soul Picnic," which should be enough to convince anyone that Nyro was a major singer/songwriter. An argument could be made that, as an album-oriented performer whose career spanned about three decades, this is too brief a sampling of her discography, and too lopsided, as just one of the songs was recorded after 1970 (at which point she had yet to reach her 25th birthday). Still, the hard facts are that Nyro's best recordings and compositions were those from the beginning of her career. If you want greater breadth, there's the two-CD Stoned Soul Picnic: The Best of Laura Nyro compilation. But if a best-of's all you want, you don't lose much by springing for Time and Love instead, as disc two of Stoned Soul Picnic really isn't that good. Another good reason to consider this the first choice: Time and Love uses the original 1968 studio version of "Sweet Blindness" (a 1976 live rendition was used on Stoned Soul Picnic).

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