To all intents and purposes, this is five star package....beautifully packaged and remastered, with excellent (if slightly overblown)sleevenotes. If you are a fan of Nico already, you will not need to hesitate in awarding a final star...but this is not a package for the uninitiated. Nor is it perhaps the logical next step for fans of Nico's 1967 debut album, 'Chelsea Girl'...that album had a very different sound, being in many ways, a conventional late sixties folk-pop production (it's actually much better than that, but the striking material doesn't always benefit from the very conventional arrangements). Going from 'Chelsea Girl' to 'The Marble Index' is a bit like jumping from a warm bath into a freezing cold one! Therefore...I'd advise the newcomer to saturate him/herself in some like-minded works of the time: Skip Spence's 'Oar', for instance, the early works of the Soft Machine, maybe the wilder shores of the post-Nico Velvets. THEN, try '..Index', followed by 'Shore'.
Nico's voice is unique and powerful...it may not be a 'good' singing voice, but she certainly knew how to put her material over....and this is pretty amazing material, that owes far more to the Romantic poets and Nico's German heritage than it does to late sixties pop/rock. John Cale's very original settings may take some getting used to, but the ears adjust after a few plays. And, contrary to what some may tell you, this music isn't depressing at all: once you've got past Nico's somewhat ghostly delivery, you'll find this stuff as life-enhancing and renewing as anything else that came out of this wonderous era of music.