Not the definitive Nico CD, but an intriguing beginning
Gregor von Kallahann | 04/13/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not at all surprised by the occasional negative reviews of this release. Nico tends to polarize people. Even people who would never use the "can't sing a lick" argument against such contemporaries (and friends) of Nico such as Dylan, Leonard Cohen and (the maybe less than friendly) Lou Reed feel free to use it against her.Ah, you say, but THEY wrote their own material. Well, so did Nico (almost exclusively after this album). And contrary to what some have written, Nico actually began writing on this record (forgive me for using old-fashioned terms like "record" and "album"). "It Was A Pleasure Then" was authored by Nico, John Cale and Lou Reed. Lyrically, it's a patent Nico song; the feedback accompaniment is classic Reed/Cale.People can argue about the merits of Nico as a chanteuse, but that was only a role she played for a very short time. I happen to like her Sprechstimme vocals and do not consider them Warhol-esque camp (since she sounded the same on her earliest, pre-Velvets recordings "The Last Mile," and "I'm Not Sayin'"--yes the Gordon Lightfoot song--long before she ever met Andy and Co.)The songs on this record, as well as the occasional cabaret-style foray into Dietrich territory in her later career ("My Funny Valentine" from "Camera Obscura") suggest that Nico could have been the heir to a German (not French) tradition previously represented by Lotte Lenya, Marlene Dietrich and Hildegard Knef (aka Hildegarde Neff). She embraced that tradition only briefly and somewhat ironically, and then moved beyond it, crossing the "frozen borderline" represented by her second solo lp "The Marble Index." That record is a world beyond "Chelsea Girl" and as far removed from Warhol campiness as is humanly possible. Regardless of whether you find "Chelsea Girl" charming or whether you wonder how this "non-singer" ever landed a recording contract, you should realize that Nico went on to compose and perform (in collaboration with John Cale) some of the most provocative and downright scary music of the 60s, 70s and early 80s.If you're intrigued at all by Nico, you may want to check out the video "Nico Icon" or one of the two books about her "Nico: the Life and Lies of an Icon" (the author's name escapes me at the moment) and/or "Nico: the End" by James Young."
One of the most under-rated albums in history!
an English major | the University of Louisiana, Monore, LA | 01/16/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, its a sad fact that most people in this world are not musically knowledgable or appreciative on a deep level. This is illustrated by the fact that, as reviewers have noted before, not nearly enough people have ever heard of Nico.
I will state this very plainly:
This album is the classic Nico album. It also contains the single most beautiful set of songs I have ever heard in my life. And this comes from someone who prides themself on having a broad and obscure musical taste. There is a certain Zen in this album that I just can't express. Especially on the understated "These Days". This song gives you the feeling that Nico is singing to you the exhausted lament of someone who has come back from the dead. Its haunting and priceless. As for Nico's voice being unusual, I would have to protest. People devour the albums of artists like Bjork and PJ Harvey, and to me their voices have a much more unnatural tonal quality.
I urge you to at least listen to this album. I know the Royal Tenenbaums really got Nico's music back out there, so I hope a lot of people can share in this rare experience."
PERFECT PILLOW | Omaha, NE USA | 05/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nico's impact can still be heard and felt today. The fact that this album was released in 1967 baffles me when you consider the sound of popular music of that time. Nico was a true original, and perhaps one of the first authentic "alternative" artists of our time. This album is beautiful, string-laden and passionate. Nico can make you feel blue without totally bringing you down. Her voice is what it is: imperfect, childlike and yet (most importantly) VERY MUCH HER OWN. Listen with an open mind, don't listen to the Nico nay sayers, and cut the girl a break: she was only trying to infuse some beauty into this ugly little world."
Wonderful Collection of an Angel's Voice
' Groovin' guy | 05/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD contains many lovely songs, Somewhere There's a Feather, Little Sister and many more. Sung by Nico whose distinctive and quite low voice is bliss to the ears.
Her style of music being unique and quite brilliant."
My Melancholy Muse
Jay Murphy | Landover Hills, Maryland United States | 01/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"With a voice like a slightly off harmonium (which she frequently played on her subsequent releases), Nico was a total original. After singing a few songs on the Velvet Underground's debut album as their Warhol-implanted chanteuse then getting ousted from the band, Nico recorded this, her debut solo album. The atmosphere throughout "Chelsea Girl" is haunting, mournful and a little mysterious, even when the lyrics of a given song are optimistic or hopeful. However, most of the material she works with here is quite morose. She covers one of Jackson Browne's saddest songs, "These Days", a truly depressive beauty. Stand-out tracks for me include the ode to Andy Warhol's Factory characters "Chelsea Girls" written by sometime lover Lou Reed and the ghostly "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" by Tim Hardin. This song really gets to me as I know first-hand how the pain of drug addiction affects not just the user but also those close to the addict. The decision to include this song on the album is the very definition of 'ironic' since Nico's struggle with drugs is well documented.
Nico's later releases sound very different from this record as she finds her own voice as a composer and musician. Are they better than this album? I don't really think so. I think that they're all of a piece. But where this album's main instrumentation is guitar, strings and the occasional woodwind, Nico's later, more personal CDs use synthesizers, the aforementioned harmoniums and the like to convey her unique solo compositions. So she started out folky with this one and gradually becomes more avant garde as her career progressed."