Get this crazy baby off my head!


Laura Nyro & Labelle


Laura Nyro & Labelle - Gonna Take a Miracle - 1971 - Columbia

Gonna Take a Miracle is the fifth music album by New York-born singer, songwriter, and pianist Laura Nyro. Nyro was backed up on the album by the vocal trio Labelle. Gonna Take a Miracle was released on the Columbia Records label in November 1971, a year after its predecessor, Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. The album is Nyro's only all-covers album, and she interprets mainly '50s and '60s soul and R&B standards, using Labelle as a traditional back-up vocal group. Nyro had originally hatched the idea to do a covers album during 1970, and on her tour to support the Christmas and the Beads of Sweat album she introduced several of the songs that would later appear on Gonna Take a Miracle, including "Spanish Harlem" and "Dancing in the Street." Gonna Take a Miracle remains a critics' favourite Laura Nyro record for its laidback atmosphere and impressive soul grooves and musicianship, as well as classic "Philadelphia soul" production from Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. It was Nyro's last commercially successful album, peaking at #46 on the Billboard 200, then known as the Pop Albums chart, as well as an impressive #41 on the Black Albums chart. It was Nyro's last album for more than four years as she turned her back on the music industry to get married and live a rural life away from the spotlight. Nyro's work with Patti LaBelle on the album formed a lifelong friendship. In 2005, Word magazine voted Gonna Take a Miracle among the 60 Best Underrated Albums of all time. [ from Wikipedia ].

Listen to Labelle's great "Nightbirds" album, and Laura Nyro's brilliant "Angel in the Dark" album


"I Met Him on a Sunday"- (Doris Coley, Addie Harris, Beverly Lee, Shirley Owens) 1:55
"The Bells"- (Marvin Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye, Iris Gordy, Elgie Stover) 2:56
"Monkey Time/Dancing in the Street"- (Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter, William "Mickey" Stevenson) 4:59
"Désiree"- (L.Z. Cooper, Danny Johnson) 1:52
"You've Really Got a Hold on Me"- (Smokey Robinson) 4:09
"Spanish Harlem"- (Jerry Leiber, Phil Spector) 2:52
"Jimmy Mack"- (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland) 2:57
"The Wind"- (Bob Edwards, Juan Gutiérrez, Quentin Eubanks, Willie Hunter, Nolan Strong) 2:59
"Nowhere to Run"- (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland) 5:09
"It's Gonna Take a Miracle"- (Teddy Randazzo, Bob Weinstein, Lou Stallman) 3:25


Laura Nyro - Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals
Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx, Sarah Dash- Vocals
Norman Harris, Roland Chambers - Guitar
Ron Baker - Bass
Lenny Pakula - Organ, Horn
Jim Helmer - Drums
Roger Hawkins, Vince Montana - Percussion
Larry Washington, Nydia Mata - Percussion, Bongos, Conga
Robert A. Martin, Thom Bell - Strings, Horn
Sam Reed - Horn
Don Renaldo - Strings


When we were first confronted with "soul" in the musical sense, we quickly attempted to slap a label on it, and when that label proved too small to accommodate both James Brown and Marvin Gaye, the risk avoiders that ran radio decided that once again, "white" and "black" music would have to go their separate ways. Things haven't changed much, either, since it's a safe bet that your local "classic rock" station doesn't play a note of Laura Nyro — unless it's sung by Three Dog Night or David Clayton-Thomas. Indeed, practitioners of musical apartheid would be utterly flummoxed by Nyro. She wrote intense songs with unexpected rhythms, as did your favorite "progressive" act, but she sang them as soulfully as any preacher's kid from the streets of Detroit, something not quite expected from a nice Jewish girl from the Bronx. Verve, which signed her for an album in 1966, couldn't come up with any better description than More Than a New Discovery. Eventually, she settled at Columbia, where she recorded three albums of original material in three years, and while they sold fairly well, cover versions of her songs sold even better — just pick up any Fifth Dimension anthology. Perhaps as a response, the New York Tendaberry took a side trip to Philadelphia in 1971, and Gonna Take a Miracle was born. With practiced R&B veterans Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff at the helm, and the newly-foreshortened Labelle not very far in the background, Laura Nyro let her voice and her soul run free through eleven classic songs, from doo-wop to Motown. The voices weren't always in perfect harmony, and the arrangements weren't always ideal, but none of that mattered; what came out of those sessions was the textbook definition of soul — gospel on an earthly plane, if you will — and it was so shattering that Nyro herself couldn't come up with a follow-up for four years. Columbia reissued the Verve album (as The First Songs) during the interim, but by then, apparently, the magic had moved on. The gem of this collection, perhaps, is "The Wind". After reviewing the original by Nolan Strong and the Diablos, Gamble and Huff decided to emphasize its ethereal qualities and toss out the rest. And it works: the voices are muted and wistful, the chorus soft and breathy, nearly wordless — not unlike the wind itself. In some ways, Gonna Take a Miracle is godmother to all those tribute albums cluttering up the racks these days. And while one last miracle was not forthcoming — Laura Nyro died in the spring of 1997 of ovarian cancer, not yet fifty — she did live long enough to see her music live again for another generation, and maybe, in the long run, that's miracle enough. © 1997-2001 by Charles G. Hill Posted 13 April 1997 http://www.dustbury.com/music/nyromir.html

With the 1971 release Gonna Take a Miracle, pop composer and vocalist Laura Nyro completed her four-album/four-year deal for Columbia. Nyro's passion for R&B can be traced back to some of her earliest compositions, such as "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Stoned Soul Picnic" — both of which were covered by the R&B vocal quintet the Fifth Dimension. More recently, her version of "Up on the Roof" was one of the highlights of Christmas and the Beads of Sweat. So, enthusiasts who had paid any attention at all to the course of Nyro's career would not have been surprised by her direction on this project. As much as Gonna Take a Miracle is indeed a Laura Nyro album, it could likewise, and perhaps more accurately, be described as a collaborative effort between Nyro and the female soul trio LaBelle — featuring Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash — as well as producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. It is ultimately this team that is responsible for the album's overwhelmingly solid results. Leading off in an apropos style is a succulent cover of the Shirelles hit "I Met Him on a Sunday." The vocal performance is structured as a round — with each woman singing a consecutive line. The song is rightfully returned to the street corner doo wop tradition from which it originated with the simplicity of unadorned vocals creating an inconspicuous a cappella symphony. Nyro has never sounded so comfortable, easy, or "in her element" than she does backed by an all-star Philly soul ensemble that Gamble and Huff assembled for these sessions. The material reaches beyond just the sounds of Philadelphia, with Motown ("You've Really Got a Hold on Me" and "Nowhere to Run") and Brill Building ("Spanish Harlem"), as well as lesser-known covers of the Charts' "Desiree" and the Baltimore-based Royalettes "It's Gonna Take a Miracle." In 2002, Sony/Legacy issued an "expanded and remastered edition" of this album, including four "bonus tracks": "Ain't Nothin' Like the Real Thing," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "O-o-h Child," and "Up on the Roof" — all of which are previously unissued live solo performances. © Lindsay Planer © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:jk1gtq2ztu43


Laura Nyro was one of pop music's true originals: A brilliant and innovative composer, her songs found greater commercial success in the hands of other performers, but her own records — intricate, haunting works highlighting her singularly powerful vocal phrasing, evocative lyrics, and alchemical fusion of gospel, soul, folk, and jazz structures — remain her definitive artistic legacy. The daughter of a jazz trumpeter, she was born Laura Nigro on October 18, 1947, and composed her first songs at the age of eight. After attending Manhattan's famed High School of Music and Art, she began performing in area clubs, drawing on influences as diverse as Bob Dylan and John Coltrane. In 1967, Nyro issued her first LP, More Than a New Discovery; though commercially unsuccessful, the album was a treasure trove of material for other artists — the Fifth Dimension scored with "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Blowin' Away," Barbra Streisand covered "Stoney End," and Blood, Sweat & Tears tackled "And When I Die." In 1967, Nyro made just her second major live appearance to date at the Monterey Pop Festival, where her idiosyncratic performance baffled the crowd. However, David Geffen — a music agent at the time — caught her set and was so impressed that he quit his current position to become her manager. He also won Nyro a contract with Columbia, and in 1968 she returned with the extraordinary Eli and the Thirteenth Confession. While the album earned vast critical acclaim, she again found commercial success not with her own recordings, but with covers of Eli's songs, as the Fifth Dimension reached the charts with renditions of "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Sweet Blindness," while "Eli's Comin'" became a major hit for Three Dog Night. New York Tendaberry, released in 1969, fared better thanks to the strong word of mouth now trailing her work; the record's "Time and Love" and "Save the Country" soon emerged as two of her most well-regarded and popular songs. With 1970's Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, she continued her exploration of soul music, enlisting Muscle Shoals staples like Barry Beckett, Roger Hawkins, and Eddie Hinton; "Beads of Sweat" also featured guitar work from Duane Allman. Gonna Take a Miracle, recorded with Labelle and the production team of Gamble & Huff, marked a dramatic left turn in 1971; Nyro's lone album of non-original material, it featured her tributes to Motown ("Jimmy Mack," "Nowhere to Run"), doo wop ("The Bells," "Spanish Harlem"), and the girl group era ("I Met Him on a Sunday"). At the age of 24, Nyro announced her retirement; she married, severed her industry connections, and moved to a small community in New England. However, the marriage ended in divorce, and in 1976 she resurfaced with Smile; a subsequent tour yielded the 1977 live set Season of Lights. However, the long layoff derailed whatever chart momentum her music had accrued, and after the dismal sales of 1978's Nested, she again retreated from the music business. When Nyro finally returned from her self-imposed exile in 1984 with Mother's Spiritual, her music had grown more reserved and introspective; as the title indicated, her own motherhood provided considerable inspiration for her new work, as did her rustic New England lifestyle. While she did not make any overt declarations of retirement, Nyro waited another five years before issuing her next LP, Live at the Bottom Line, recorded at the legendary New York club; Walk the Dog & Light the Light, her first collection of new material in nearly a decade, followed in 1993. Four years later, Nyro died of ovarian cancer, on April 8, 1997. A posthumous album, Angel in the Dark, was issued in 2001, and several additional live recordings also surfaced. © Jason Ankeny © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:fiftxqr5ld6e~T1


The female trio responsible for the proto-disco funk classic "Lady Marmalade," LaBelle's outlandish space-age costumes and brash incorporation of rock & roll were a far cry from their early days as a typical '60s girl group, not to mention the later solo career of frontwoman Patti LaBelle. While Patti naturally seems like the focal point in hindsight, the group was also blessed with a talented and prolific songwriter in Nona Hendryx, who followed an idiosyncratic muse into her own mercurial solo career, which often bordered on the avant-garde. The group's first incarnation was that of a quartet. Friends Patricia Holt and Cindy Birdsong had been singing together in a Philadelphia group called the Ordettes, and in 1962 they teamed up with Wynona "Nona" Hendryx and Sarah Dash, both members of a rival outfit called the Del Capris. At the suggestion of producer Bobby Martin, Holt changed her last name to LaBelle to match with the group's official name, the BlueBelles. Strangely enough, Patti LaBelle & the BlueBelles may not have even performed on their first hit; a group called the Starlets cut a single called "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman," which was released with the name the Blue-Belles on the label. Some accounts hold that the Starlets actually backed LaBelle, or that her vocal was overlaid, while others suggest that the lead voice wasn't LaBelle's at all. Whatever the case, "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" became a Top 20 R&B and pop hit in 1962, and the BlueBelles started touring the R&B circuit behind it. Their next hit came in 1963 with the dramatic ballad "Down the Aisle," another R&B Top 20, and they hit the Top 40 again in 1964 with renditions of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "You'll Never Walk Alone" and the Irish standard "Danny Boy," solidifying their penchant for sentimental, classic-style pop. In 1965, the BlueBelles signed with major label Atlantic, and had some success with a version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which remained in Patti LaBelle's concert repertoire for decades. Despite cutting an early version of "Groovy Kind of Love" (later a number one hit for the Mindbenders, not to mention Phil Collins), though, the BlueBelles' tenure wasn't as commercially productive as hoped. Cindy Birdsong left in 1967 to replace Florence Ballard in the Supremes, permanently reducing the group to a trio. With no real hits forthcoming, Atlantic wound up dropping them in 1969. In search of a makeover, they hired former British television producer Vicki Wickham (the music series Ready, Steady, Go!) as their new manager and producer in 1970. Wickham remade the group for the '70s, shortening their name to LaBelle and pushing them into a more contemporary fusion of R&B and rock; plus, the advent of glam rock suggested a new direction for their stage act, and the trio donned outrageous, space-themed costumes replete with glitter, silver, and/or feathers. LaBelle opened for the Who on an American tour and sang backup on singer/songwriter Laura Nyro's acclaimed R&B-themed album Gonna Take a Miracle in 1971. Signing with Warner Brothers, the revamped LaBelle made their debut in 1971 with an eponymous album that featured soul treatments of rock and pop material by the likes of Nyro, the Rolling Stones, Kenny Rogers, and Carole King. The follow-up, 1972's Moonshadow, featured the Cat Stevens-penned title track and the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again," and also included more material written by Nona Hendryx. Neither album was all that commercially successful, and they left Warner to record one album for RCA, 1973's Pressure Cookin', where Hendryx's writing constituted the vast majority of the record. In 1974, LaBelle signed with Epic, and the label sent them to New Orleans to record with famed producer Allen Toussaint. The result, Nightbirds, featured the deeply funky single "Lady Marmalade," an ode to a New Orleans prostitute with the indelible French chorus "voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" ("you want to go to bed with me tonight?"). Penned by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, "Lady Marmalade" shot to number one on both the pop and R&B charts in early 1975, sending Nightbirds into the Top Ten and making it LaBelle's first gold album. "Lady Marmalade" proved to be a tough act to follow. Despite four more charting R&B singles over the next two years, nothing duplicated the phenomenon of LaBelle's first major hit. 1975's Phoenix and 1976's Chameleon were relative commercial disappointments, even though they featured some of the group's finest vocal performances, plus increasingly ambitious and sophisticated writing by Hendryx. In fact, Hendryx's vision was pulling her away from the rest of LaBelle, and by the end of 1976, the group had disbanded to pursue solo careers. Hendryx immediately began recording in a funk-rock hybrid, and in the early '80s drifted into downtown New York's avant-garde scene, where she worked often with Bill Laswell; her solo records were sometimes accessible and frequently challenging. Patti LaBelle, of course, went on to a hugely successful and long-lived career as an R&B hitmaker with adult contemporary appeal, scoring hits like "New Attitude" and the number one Michael McDonald duet "On My Own." As for Sarah Dash, she made several solo albums that failed to attract much attention, but found her way into the Rolling Stones' sphere by the late '80s, working as a backup singer on both solo and group projects. Over 30 years following their breakup, the trio got back together to make 2008's Back to Now for the Verve label. Gamble & Huff, Lenny Kravitz, and Wyclef Jean were just a few of those who were involved in the sessions. © Steve Huey http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wifqxqe5ldde © 2010 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved


A.O.O.F.C said...


p/w aoofc

ratso said...

Another brilliant post, thank you.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Cheers,ratso! Thanks for comment. Keep in touch

Mike said...

She has an amazing, versatile voice. I'm very impressed.

Mike said...

P.S. I'm referring to Laura Nyro.

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi Mike. Laura had a great voice. I probably wouldn't listen to Labelle records, but this combination worked. Cheers!