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Christmas and the Beads of Sweat (Accompanying Herself On the Piano)

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iTunes Review

Tenement arias, dreamy vignettes and political ruminations give Laura Nyro’s Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat its distinctive charm. This 1970 release was overshadowed by Nyro’s previous albums, particularly Eli And The Thirteenth Confession. Judged on its own, though, it’s an entrancing song collection filled with the emotional fireworks that characterize her canon. The moods here are extreme — Nyro careens from the serene city landscapes of “Brown Earth” to the harrowing drug nightmare of “Been On A Train” and the erotic vistas of “Map To The Treasure” like a vision-possessed sibyl. At times, her lyrics seem precious or excessively naïve, and her political musings in “Christmas In My Soul” don’t date well. But Nyro’s astoundingly expressive voice and stark, insistent piano playing more than compensate. Co-produced by Arif Mardin and the Rascals’ Felix Cavaliere, the album mixes R&B/rock arrangements with exotic touches (such as the Middle Eastern instrumentation on “Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp”). Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat was the last album of new material Nyro released before her (temporary) mid-‘70s retirement.

Customer Reviews

All things considered, her best album

When it first came out in the 70's I played this album so many times the songs are burned into my memory forever. The range on this album is breathtaking and the production value is top of the line. In fact, if you compare a vinyl copy of this album to a digital version you can easily tell why sometimes "the opposite of good is better". Just listen for the "chimes" on Chinese Lamp. It's as if they were cut off at the knees sounding like an afterthought on a digital recording while on vinyl, they sparkle and ring with sublime clairity adding real depth and nuance to the song!


I bought this album when it was first released and when I got it home and put it on my turntable I was mesmorized and astounded. I had never heard anything like this, especially from a woman artist. I don't think I stopped playing it for a month! I have been a huge fan of Laura's ever since. I drove my friends and family crazy playing her albums. The songs contained within are intimate and personal reflections and observations of a true NYC Street Urchin. She lived her young life on the streets, sang doo-wop in the subways with her friends before she ever recorded. If you are familiar with, and a lover of Manhattan, you will fall head over heals. Laura Nyro "chanelled" New York! I, like the previous reviewer have every word, every chord change, every pause burned into my brain. I am still thrilled with the work. Possibly one of the best albums of all time. Laura was way ahead of her time. She still has not received the recognician she deserves. Like many famous artists, her work will not be fully appreciated until long after she left us. Leonard Bernstein was a devoted fan of Laura's. There could be no better critic of her work.

The Ultimate Album by an Artists' Artist

I have had several formats of this album throughout the years: vinyl, 8-track, cassette, cd. I will never get tired of it. Her artistry and poignancy are amazing. "Been on a Train" is probably the most beautiful, gut-wrenching piece ever written and recorded. (Alvin Ailey choreographed a piece for Judth Jameson to this number.) Do youself a favor. Get this album. Pour a glass or two of a nice cabernet, dim the lights, and take yourself on an emotional rollercoaster.


Born: October 18, 1947 in New York, NY [The Bronx]

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

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...
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