My Favorite Album of All Time

Categories: Music

Gonna_Take_a_Miracle.jpg
Yes, "album."

It was that long ago.

It's a 1971 gem by Laura Nyro and Labelle called Gonna Take a Miracle, and it can never be topped for sheer power and style.

The velvet-throated New York singer, backed by the gritty and talented girl group trio, created an intimate, moving bunch of '50s and '60s covers that makes it sound like they've sashayed into your living room, spread out on the carpet, and just started jamming.

You want them to never leave.

Nyro's vibrato-rich soprano and Labelle's soaring harmonies prove to be an amazing matchup.

Their versions of oldies like "The Bells," "You Really Got a Hold on Me," and "Dancing In The Street" take on a sexy urgency full of fresh emotion and personality, as if these songs were ingrained in their skin and percolating in their blood.

Nostalgia for nostalgia doesn't get any better than this.

This album should be held up as proof that no one but the pros should ever attempt karaoke.

Your favorite?

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47 comments
ab2859
ab2859

Thank you Michael for paying tribute to the Great One. Laura continues to be the most underated female singer/songwriter ever. I recently watched an Elton John interview where he also paid tribute to her. She was one of a kind. Laura's "New York Tendaberry" was a masterpiece. May she RIP.

Emily Zacharias
Emily Zacharias

Michael,I'm a singer and an actor. Laura Nyro was my inspiration, my mentor, and my musical companion from the moment that my older brother came home from college and put "Emmie" on the stereo for me. "Gonna take a miracle" was and is soulfully exuberant and willfully wild. I have listened seriously to all manner of singers since those early days, and have yet to hear a singer so effortlessly embody the soulful center of the song.

Davalon56
Davalon56

Dear Michael: At LAST... somebody gets it! The best album of all time. Laura was from another planet. What an incredible talent. I listened to this album over and over and over. I wasn't old enough to know that she was covering older songs. I thought everything was new and fresh and wild and sweet and free. And LaBelle... oh, what a combo. I don't think kids of today could appreciate the raw beauty and urgency of this masterpiece. Thank you for keeping the Nyro legend alive. So many have forgotten her... and there will NEVER be anyone like her again.

Moonchild7
Moonchild7

Yes, fabulous year! I graduated from HS and got to see GRAND FUNK RAILROAD live, along with BLOODROCK. Their album, "Closer to Home" came out in 1970 but they were great and to this date the best concert I've ever been to. And I went to the Stones Sticky Fingers Concert in 1972!

Openroad
Openroad

I have nothing to add because "Gonna Take a Miracle" is my favorite too. That, "New York Tendaberry" and "Blue" got my through some very lonely times in the early 1970s.

Scruff712
Scruff712

Excellent choice. And contrary to popular belief, if you look at the extras on the dvd, she didn't ruin the Monterey Pop festival.

Jackstone54
Jackstone54

Serge Gainsbourg's Sous le Soleil Exactement, as sung by French New Wave goddess Anna Karina

john
john

Michael,

Close to XMAS 1971. Rode the subway up from South Ferry to Carnegie Hall. This young woman with a voice like nobody's business sat at the piano and performed her own songs interacting little with the audience. Last half hour she introduced her friends Pattti Labelle and the Labelles. They performed songs from Gonna Take A Miracle . Rode that subway back down in a trance. Thank you for remembering Laura Nyro's unique talent.

bob crane
bob crane

would have to be 'Here Come the Warm Jets' by Brian Eno from '73. Brilliant, beautiful lp.

Mr. Cairo
Mr. Cairo

Dusty in Memphis. Aretha's Let Me in Your Life is a close second.

gfrblxt
gfrblxt

Tough, tough choice. Can I get some love for "To Our Children's Children's Children" by the Moody Blues? Or "Dire Straits"? The "What are your 1/5/10/100 most essential records" question is always killer for me.

But I have to say, this is one of the most honest-feeling reviews I've ever read. Thanks, Michael - I'm going to have to go find this album m'self.

toccc
toccc

I was thinking TOCCC as well. The best ever.

Lee Meade
Lee Meade

The original Wailers last album together: "Burnin'". True roots reggae before full commercialization kicked in.

Record Runner
Record Runner

My favorite is "Blue"...Joni Mitchell. It paints a picture with every cut.

egghumor
egghumor

Wow, Michael, 1000 thanks! My all-time favorite album is Laura's "New York Tendaberry." No other composer-recording artist has ever effected me as deeply as the divine Ms. Nyro.She was a gift to the universe.

Barkley
Barkley

I like "Flesh & Blood" by Gayle McCormick and "Tear Me Apart" by Tanya Tucker!

HollandReader
HollandReader

Court and Spark, Joni Mitchell. Always at the top of my playlist for last ... well more years than I'd like to say.

Charlie
Charlie

I love that album, I practically wore it out back in the day! You have good taste in music :)

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

Another 1970's singer-songwriter in a vaguely similar vein that I've been back listening to recently is Karla Bonoff. Another kinda similar is Yvonne Elliman, who also has the dubious honor of having sung the title song for "Moment by Moment", 1978's greatest film!

Kagemusha
Kagemusha

And of course Yvonne was Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar ("I Don't Know How To Love Him") and sang "If I Can't Have You" for Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

bsomers
bsomers

I am not a huge fan of Nyro the singer; but more of Nyro the songwriter. Many singer-songwriters are great writers and boring singers, including Paul Simon and [yes, folks] Joni Mitchell. Nyro's wail can make your ears pop; however, when she croons a song she is touching and heartfelt with songs such as "Billy's Blues" and "I Never Meant to Hurt You."

JonnyOneNote
JonnyOneNote

I first heard this album in 1972 at the library I worked at -- the audio/visual department got to play records while working. And when I first heard the "street corner" a cappella version of "I Met Him on a Sunday" that perfectly segued into "The Bells," I was hooked. I was only 16 at the time. Labelle? Never heard of them. (It would be nearly 3 more years before "Lady Marmalade" broke through.) Laura Nyro I knew as a songwriter for other artists.

But putting the two acts together was genius. Pure heaven to listen to such distinctive vocalists. What a terrific album! Side one went from one song to another, seamlessly, it seemed. I definitely played that side more than the second (but the whole album is still a work of art).

This was definitely a labour of love from the Sound of Philadelphia -- produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff (head of Philadelphia International), with arrangements by Thom Bell, Bobby Martin, and the whole MFSB crew behind them.

Sadly, this album did not sell when it was first released, and was considered by CBS to be a bomb -- er, disappointment. Eh, whaddaya they know? Bunch of shirts!

betternow
betternow

Hasten down the wind/Linda Ronstadt...anything Labelle...Hey now Hey/the other side of the sky~Aretha...they all got me through High school in south jersey shore where they still have confederqate flags on ford trucks...being gay, 17 and in Ocean County was hell

Auntacid
Auntacid

this is my favorite album off all time too!! i went through 3 vinyl copies before i got the cd and of couse now it is an mp3 on my iphone. i began listening to it when i was 17. with headphones!! every background vocal is awesome. love everything else she recorded as well but album in perfectly beautiful.

KJC
KJC

Labelle's Pressure Cookin. Just for (Can I speak to you before you go to)Hollywood alone. "Something in the Air-The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" medley was ground-breaking. Nona Hendryx came into her own as a songwriter here and the vocals of Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendryx were mesmerizing.

latenitebump
latenitebump

i was going to say pressure cookin´, too. the album is a sleeper. and your review of the album is on point.

Rdavisnj
Rdavisnj

yes KJC!!! totally agree!!!

Movielover
Movielover

Love your choice, Mikey. I have always loved this album too! Also Sarah Vaughn's Echos of an Era. Stella by Starlight, When Your Lover has Gone, among a lot of other really great songs, sung by the divine, SV.

Pietro
Pietro

Not my favorite album of all time but my favorite Laura Nyro album is SMILE.

Buddy88mo
Buddy88mo

Yes Michael, GTAM is brilliant, lasting, strong, but the album that always makes me feel good, that I still play regularly, is by Blondie - 1979's Eat To The Beat. Dreaming, Accidents Never Happen, Atomic, Deborah's iconic voice, Clem Burke's stellar drum work. It never fails me. "When I met you in the restaurant, you could tell I was no debutante" - that's poetry to my ears.

Jack M
Jack M

A wonderful album, and yes, it's on CD.

charlufan
charlufan

Barbra Streisand's album 'People' from 1964. Favourite Laura Nyro song is 'Stoney End' (from Streisand's 'Stoney End' album).

billyjoe
billyjoe

Laura's live version of "Ooh Child" is sublime.

"Some day/We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun/Some day/When the world is much brighter..."

Marc
Marc

Have you ever listened to Valerie Carter's version. A top 5 favorite track of mine

latenitebump
latenitebump

i have that very same album, too, only because labelle (yes! patti, nona, and sarah) are on the same album. labelle appears as if they are doing this chick a favour. not a very memoriable album.gritty? i think labelle is far from gritty. raw? powerful? to describe their vocal prowess.can´t fuck with labelle. they murder all other girl groups (black or white; that is if you don´t count sylvester and 2 tons of fun) yesterday and today!

Amber Becton
Amber Becton

I can't wait to get it! And thanks for sharing.Lately, my favorite is Dizzy Gillespie, On the French Riviera. On album, of course! :)

Iboyyyy
Iboyyyy

Something Silver, Labelle

Helene
Helene

Great album! My favorite is Blood on the Tracks.

Rick
Rick

OMG!!! What an incredible year!!!

Jonster
Jonster

Banner Year. 1971 was the year of the Stones "Sticky Fingers," Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," Led Zepellin IV, The Who "Who's Next," and the Doors "LA Woman, " Carole King "Tapestry," John Lennon's "Imagine," etc. etc. etc.

But my favorite was Elton John's "Tumbleweed Connection." He wasn't so schmaltzy then.

Wendy Lou Who
Wendy Lou Who

Amazing thing is I haven't listened to this in years and as soon as I read this, I could *hear* all the songs in my head. Well I met him on a Sunday......

Melinda9
Melinda9

I love that album - love her version of Up On the Roof, my favorite song (which I now remember is on Christmas and the Beads of Sweat).I don't have a favorite album because I like too many to choose.

Jax
Jax

Thanks for the tip. I love Laura Nyro, from what I know and have heard of her.

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