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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful
This debut album from Nico, I would say is mostly a Donovan-ish folk album and is more conventional in song structure than her second album "The Marble Index". Songwriters on the album include Nico's Velvet Underground companions Lou Reed and John Cale, as well as Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne. The album has a very simple feel to it with gently strummed accoustic...
Published on 1 April 2001

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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic let down by sound quality
This is really a 5 Star LP (if like me you'd played the Velvet's first LP to death, then discovering this incredible "companion" piece is a fantastic bonus), but it should be pointed out that this CD version sounds terrible sound quality wise and is in dire need of sensitive remastering. (One of the worst examples of the first wave of CD reissues that i've heard, in...
Published on 12 Dec 2003 by Charles Hodgson


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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful, 1 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
This debut album from Nico, I would say is mostly a Donovan-ish folk album and is more conventional in song structure than her second album "The Marble Index". Songwriters on the album include Nico's Velvet Underground companions Lou Reed and John Cale, as well as Bob Dylan and Jackson Browne. The album has a very simple feel to it with gently strummed accoustic guitar. There is a very mournful and hauntingly beautiful atmosphere throughout. Lou Reed's "Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams" could be one of his best written songs and Velvet Underground fans should like both "It Was A Pleasure Then" and "Chelsea Girls". Other favourite songs on the album include the beautiful "Eulogy To Lenny Bruce", "These Days" and Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine" (these latter two are among the more upbeat tracks on a generally beautifully mournful album). I'm not usually into folk music but I do like this album and would recommend it to anyone who likes Nico's Velvet Underground work.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly beautiful and criminally underrated, 15 Mar 2007
This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
This is one of Nico's very finest albums, a moody, lusciously orchestrated and impeccable sounding debut by anyone's standards. Truly, THIS is where Nico's real career began, instead of being an ornament for the Velvet Underground.

This album is roughly a million miles away from some of Nico's later solo efforts, especially 'The End', which boasts atmospherics and gloom which would make Joy Division unsure. Having said that, 'The End' was genius, but so is this.

Album opener 'The Fairest Of The Seasons' is vintage Nico, all introspection and heavy philosophising. It is a great introduction to Nico's voice, which is utterly unique and without any comparsion to any other singer, male or female. Where this album differs from any other Nico album is that the music is a very uplifting, sometimes even jolly affair. This song is laden with beautiful acoustic guitar and serene strings, married perfectly with Nico's deep, expressive and deliberate voice, which is crisp with clarity.

'These days' also features the same musical arrangement, but the strings are gentler and even more dreamy sounding, whilst the lyrics are classic Nico, casually musing over past and present in trademark Nico style.

Various other percussion is explored continuously throughout the entire album, put to best effect on 'It was a pleasure then', which is the most experimental song on the album and most like what Nico was embracing the further into her career she got. The moody-sounding 'Chelsea Girls' is more evidence of Nico's deep, distinctive and actually very strong vocal presence, whilst the song itself is an airtight exploration of various classical instruments, all working together and complimenting each other to great effect. The music in this song sounds quaint, genteel and almost countrified, conjuring images of a meadow on a warm summer's day.

Dylan-penned 'I'll Keep It With Mine' is another high point, 'lent' to Nico by Bob Dylan out of the goodness of his heart, or perhaps the fact that he was another of Nico's many male admirers!

'Somewhere There's A Feather' and 'Wrap Your Troubles In Dream' are also both exercises in subtle beauty, moody, understated but with all the charms of traditional sounding classical music. The juxtaposition of the music and Nico's voice is an entrancing and fascinating one.

The album's closer 'Eulogy To Lenny Bruce' is easily one of the best songs on the album and in Nico's career, sounding utterly heartbreaking and overwrought with emotion. Indeed, the emotion that Nico's voice is infused with on this song is unforgettable. After a long time of not listening to this song, I suddenly remembered it and it became a firm favourite. The acoustic guitar is unobtrusive and simple, yet effective, allowing Nico's voice to lead, with the sad and lost-sounding lyrics.

Nico's career had many high points, but this wonderful, elgaic and skillfully produced album has to rank as one of the most enchanting highlights of her career.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic let down by sound quality, 12 Dec 2003
By 
Charles Hodgson (Edinburgh United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
This is really a 5 Star LP (if like me you'd played the Velvet's first LP to death, then discovering this incredible "companion" piece is a fantastic bonus), but it should be pointed out that this CD version sounds terrible sound quality wise and is in dire need of sensitive remastering. (One of the worst examples of the first wave of CD reissues that i've heard, in fact.) The tracks recorded with the Velvets appear in much better sound on the recent 2CD version of the banana album, so half the job's been done - BUT: What about a proper remaster of the full LP, Polydor? Nico was an important artist and deserves much better.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a pleasure then, 22 July 2005
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
Nico is still mostly remembered for her tambourine-shaking days in the Velvet Underground, though she departed after only one album, and began a long and excellent career as a solo singer. And her first solo album, "Chelsea Girl," is a perfect example of Nico's dark, heavy, haunting songs.

Don't expect the same stuff as "Femme Fatale," though -- the Velvet Underground specialized in fuzzy art-rockers. By herself, Nico favored a more orchestral brand of pop. It kicks off wtith a delicate guitar solo, only to get submerged under a layer of violins. "Now that I'm almost not so very far behind/I want to know/do I stay or do I go..." she asks mournfully in the soaring opening song.

That mellow, classical style carries over the album, with some stately organ in "Little Sister" and the urgent, flitting flute melody of "Winter Song" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams." The one disappointment is the finale, "Eulogy To Lenny Bruce." In itself, it's not a bad song -- but the production is definitely off, making Nico sound like she's singing from inside a metal drum.

The late Nico was a love-her-or-hate-her singer, even in her days with the Velvet Underground, where people often demanded her presence after her departure. She was also not one for people who demand bubblegum-pop lyrics or wide-ranging vocals. Instead, she's for the open-minded, who are willing to check out something -- or someone -- a little different.

The voice is the most prominent difference: Nico's voice was deep, deadpan, flat, and had a heavy German accent. In other words, a disaster. Except that she was't -- instead, her voice has a kind of trembly, gothic beauty, and it suits the exceptionally sad songs that she tended to sing. No goofy I-love-him-so ballads here, but meditations on life, death and tragedy.

And the music is majestic enough to support those songs and that voice -- lots of flutes and violins, with guitar and piano backing them up. As a result, this brand of pop has aged better than most older music -- with its classical bent and European orchestral flavour, it sounds timeless. It could have as easily been recorded yesterday.

"Chelsea Girl" was the start of a beautiful solo career for Nico, cut short by her untimely death. But she left behind her a legacy of beautiful, mournful music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sublime debut, 26 Jan 2002
By 
Jason Parkes "We're all Frankies'" (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
'Chelsea Girl' was Nico's debut, made prior to 'The Velvet Underground & Nico'; it is closer to the world of Marianne Faithful (Nico had been in the London scene of the early/mid 60's- not forgetting a bit part in 'La Dolce Vita' and a marriage to Alain Delon). This is the best introduction to Nico (bar the obvious: 'All Tomorrow's Parties', 'Femme Fatale', 'I'll Be Your Mirror') and a better place to start than the classic (but hardwork) 'Marble Index'.
Her then lover, Jackson Browne, contributes 'Somewhere there's a feather', 'The Fairest of Seasons' and 'These Days'- the latter being the highlight. Singer-songwriters Bob Dylan & Tim Hardin contribute 'I'll Keep it With Mine' and 'Eulogy to Lenny Bruce' resepctively. The rest is from the Velvets stable- Sterling Morrison co-writes 'Chelsea Girls' with Lou Reed (not only the title track but the theme to Warhol's film). While Lou and John Cale co-write 'Little Sister' and 'It was a Pleasure Then' (the latter with Nico herself). Finally Cale and Reed present solo compositions- the former 'Winter Song', the latter 'Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams'. These songs aren't as 'classic' as later works such as 'Cable Hogue', 'Thoughtless Kind', 'Ocean', 'Pale Blue Eyes' or 'Here She Comes Now' but are of interest- as songs such as 'Why Don't You Smile Now'.
This album is sublime stuff, if Billie Holiday had shot up in front of a Plastic Inevitable screen. The motherlode still remains 'The Marble Index'- which does not detract from this excellent debut.
Wait for the night to fall.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nico's Lieder, 26 July 2009
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
Nico's 1967 debut displays two distinct sonic styles, the first which may perhaps be termed a blend of folk & chamber music and the second the art-rock number with a VU feel. John Cale, Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison composed or co-wrote many of the songs and play on the album, contributing arresting instrumental textures behind Nico's bleak vocals. An air of melancholy permeates both styles whilst the second type has an added undertone of unease.

Tracks like The Fairest of the Seasons with its gentle orchestral backing, Cale & Reed's haunting Little Sister and Reed & Morrison's Chelsea Girls with their delicate arrangements have the folkie feel of some of Marianne Faithfull's 1960s work and also bring to mind the orchestral folk of Nick Drake, no doubt because John Cale worked with both and Drake also used cello and flute. Tim Hardin's moving Eulogy to Lenny Bruce resorts here as well.

Cale's Winter Song falls somewhere between the two whilst the complex arrangement of Lou Reed's Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams reflects the song's striking, often disturbing imagery. The most experimental track, It Was A Pleasure Then - co-written by Nico - is perhaps closest to the The Velvet Underground sound in its screeching feedback, dissonance and edgy sound effects.

The appeal of Chelsea Girls is difficult to define, especially for fans of the VU and the later solo work of Cale & Reed. The material's thematic matrix and the acoustic backing - including piano, strings & guitar - highlights the mournful magic in Nico's German accent and detached delivery. Two very different but interesting albums are The End and Drama of Exile. I highly recommend the biography by James Young, Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chelsea Girl, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
Everything was ok. The item came quickly, and the music is good. Nico was an extraordinary singer. I love her deep voice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars icon, 28 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
I bought this CD having remembered what a beautiful song these days was.
What I had failed to remember was the title song ... Chelsea Girl is timeless.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite Nico, But Not Bad, 16 Oct 2012
This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
This was the second Nico album I got after The End, so I went from probably her gloomiest work to her softest, though I would hardly call this a Nico work. All the songs were written and arranged by other people, not to mention the addition of the strings and flute, which was done without Nico's consent. That kind of suggests already that this isn't a true Nico album, but still it is quite good and the strings are actually quite nice, even the flute is tolerable.

The Fairest of The Seasons and These Days open the album and both are wonderful songs, probably some of the best. The strings especailly work in these tracks, unlike the follow up, Little Sister, which I find quite forgettable. There are some songs that have a similar theme to Nico's later works, especially It Was A Pleasure Then, although I aren't keen on this track that much, but it has grown on me. The other track is Winter Song, which has a kind of medievil feel courtesy of the prominent flute, and it is this arcane feel that Nico's other works feel like. However, these medievil feelings here are warm and soft, rather than desolate.

The other standouts are the title track, which I adore and it's even better if you know a little about the real Chelsea girls. I'll Keep It With Mine is a great song and Nico's voice is beautiful, but her voice works to its maximum on the final, Eulogy To Lenny Bruce, which brings Nico's voice to the forefront and is a beautiful song.

All in all, its an interesting listen for fans of Nico's work, but don't buy this expecting The Marble Index, Desertshore or The End. And also don't listen to it and expect that those albums will be anything like this. They aren't.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Melancholic melodies, 8 Dec 2010
By 
Dr. W. H. Konarzewski "Dr W. H. Konarzewski" (Colchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Chelsea Girl (Audio CD)
The other reviewers seem to have got it pretty well right. In fact they should be congratulated not only for their thoughtful comments but also the quality of their writing. I have little to add except to say I've been listening to this CD on my car music system for two weeks and don't feel any need to replace it. Nico has a unique voice (perhaps, as one reviewer suggests, a bit like the mature voice of Marianne Faithfull) and makes sure you can hear every word. The backing music is simple and understated. The whole effect is quite mesmerising and solemn. I get the impression Nico didn't do cheerful or flippant. In it's way this is a masterpiece. If you're prone to depression though it might be wise to start a course of Prozac for a couple of weeks before you start listening.
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