Laura Nyro: Spread Your Wings and Fly: Live at the Fillmore East May 30, 1971
When Laura Nyro performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967—one of her first public appearances—the unknown 19 year old failed to make much of an impact; basically, she bombed. Four years later, the story was different. Her songs had been turned into hits by The Fifth Dimension, Three Dog Night, Blood, Sweat & Tears and others, and her own albums were already being cherished as classics. It wasn’t surprising that Bill Graham hired her to headline one of the last shows he’d present at his fabled New York City venue the Filmore East in the spring of 1971. This recording of that performance—just the singer and her piano—has been released before, and although it was not recorded professionally (the reissue producer notes in the inner booklet that the source tape “has not aged well”), it remains a stellar example of Nyro’s talents and charms. Nyro exuded charisma regardless of what she sang. In fact, this dozen-track set is devoid of her hits except for “Save the Country,” one of the Nyro compositions The Fifth Dimension covered. She seems to have derived more enjoyment from making others’ songs her own: Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector’s “Spanish Harlem,” the Dionne Warwick ballad “Walk on By,” etc. The late Nyro was never a polished performer, but she was always an honest one, and although this concert recording is hardly state-of-the-art, even for 1971, it’s powerful enough for all of her magnetism to shine through.