Nobody’s Child (1990)– This is a charity album; George Harrison’s wife Olivia was from Romania and in the late 80’s there was a discovery of orphanages in terrible conditions. George phoned a few friends who donated some rarities for this album, and very good it is too. The Wilburys recorded the title track – a Hank Snow song, and George put on a duet with Paul Simon of ‘Homeward Bound’ live. Other notable tracks are ‘Wonderful Remark’ by Van Morrison, ‘This Week’ by Dave Stewart and ‘Goodnight Little One’ by Rick Ocasek of the Cars. A very nice selection of music.
NottingHillBillies This was a group put together by Mark Knopfler and Brendan Croker and a few others for a one-off album Missing, Presumed Having A Good Time. A really great little record – makes you wonder why they only made the one album; it is a delightful marriage of soft rock and folk. Best are ‘Railroad Worksong’, ‘Your Own Sweet Way’ and best of all ‘Will You Miss Me’. Pity they only made the one record.
Heather Nova – another you may not have heard of….she is a singer songwriter of the 90’s and beyond. I am not sure why I bought her; I think I saw 2 or 3 of her albums in charity shops and was intrigued. I am always on the lookout for new singers and her voice has a hypnotic quality, although I lose myself in her voice and don’t notice the words. Anyway I have four of her albums. Her debut was Glow Stars (1990); a quite mature sound for a new artist, as if she had been making records for ages. Her voice floats over a gentle backing and before you know it the record is over. Best songs are the title track, ‘Spirit In You’ and ‘Second Skin’. The following years follow-up Oyster seems a bit more conventional, at least in the instrumentation; still a very nice album with her superb vocals. Best songs ‘Walk This World’, ‘Maybe an Angel’ and ‘Truth and Bone’. Her next was Siren (1998) – possibly my favourite of hers; best are ‘London Rain’, ‘I’m The Girl’ and ‘Winterblue’. My last of hers is a live album Wonderlust (2000) – where the songs are expanded and developed better. I particularly like ‘Heart and Shoulder’ and ‘Doubled Up’.
Laura Nyro – was a singer both ahead of her time and out of time altogether. A New Yorker of Russian and Jewish parents she had a troubled childhood and and an even more complicated adult life. She was ahead of her time in being a singer songwriter of extraordinary ability in the Sixties, whereas Joni and Carol King and Carly Simon rode the wave in the early Seventies. Her music is quite undefinable, influenced by soul and jazz and with mostly sad lyrics she was briefly popular in the late sixties but did not capitalise on it. She almost shunned fame but her records influenced many later artists including Elton John. We start with her first album proper (actually her second but who is counting) Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968). Not a bad record, but you have to get used to Laura’s swooping vocals and jazzy arrangements – best songs are ‘Eli’s Comin’ and ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’. Next she released New York Tendaberry (1969) which was a bit more of a conventional sound and sold better. Best are the title track and ‘Time and Love’ but not my fave of hers. Christmas and The Beads Of Sweat followed in 1970 (yes, everyone was releasing an album at least every year back then). This was a bit more commercial with a couple of minor hits – ‘When I Was A Freeport And You Were A Main Drag’, and ‘Upstairs By A Chinese Lamp’. Best of her albums released was a surprising departure; almost all the tracks were already famous and by others, mostly Motown or Carole King. She also shared credits on the album with a vocal group Labelle. The result – Gonna Take A Miracle – was a tour de force and easily her best record. She sings Motown like a black woman, with real soul. Favourite songs are ‘Met Him On A Sunday’, ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ and ‘Nowhere To Run’…a great album. The last studio album I have of hers is Smile, which was a bit of an attempt to relaunch her; without much success. The record seems to lack focus and is not really typical of her. She influenced many artists but real fame eluded her. She died in the 90s, far too early. I also have a greatest hits Time and Love which is a good place to start and to end, best songs are ‘Wedding Day Blues’, ‘Goodbye Joe’ and by fart her best song ‘Stoney End’ – which was a hit for Barbara Streisand.