The years 1967 to 1972 were revolutionary for popular music. Fueled by the revolutionary changes in politics and culture, popular music was expanding, evolving, and integrating. Pop was mixing with soul was mixing with jazz was mixing with funky was mixing with rock.
Released in March of 1968, Nyro’s album, ‘Eli And The Thirteenth Confession’ was a heady mix of pop, rock, soul, jazz, Broadway, and gospel. The album included songs that later became big hits for Three Dog Night and The Fifth Dimension, including ‘Stoned Soul Picnic.’
Roy Ayers’s version, released on his album ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’ in June of 1968 is classic jazz/soul/pop; clean and crisp, forthright and funky, it represented the coming together of the soul brothers, the jazz-heads, and the hippies.
The Fifth Dimension’s version, released as a single also in June 1968 is elemental soul/pop; California Soul meets New York sophistication, east coast funky meets west coast elegance. It represented the convergence of Uptown style and Downtown grit.
And Nyro’s version (below, released as a single in October 1968), simple and complex, aching and joyful, innocent and sultry, gospel and funky, brings it home at about 2:57 with a chord, sung in her overdubbed voice, that neither Ayers nor The Fifth Dimension bothered to replicate. It represents the spirit of an era when musical artists were free to explore the breadth and depth of all of their musical inspiration and influences.