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on 10 October 2007
There are two discs in this set.

Disc 1 is a reissue of the 1981 album 'Drama of Exile' (tracks 1-9), with 6 alternative outtake versions of tracks from that album (tracks 10-15*) and the excellent 1980 single 'Saeta/Vegas' (tracks 16-17*). The outtakes are different enough to be interesting, but are hardly essential - however, they (along with the single) make up the bulk of the 'Icon' rarities collection, so this CD is a better purchase than that one.

*NB The Amazon track listing, above, erroneously lists 'Saeta' as "Track 10" when track 10 is actually the outtake version of 'One More Chance'. Thus, according to the Amazon track listing, tracks 11-16 are the outtakes and tracks 17-18 are the 'Saeta/Vegas' single.

Disc 2 is a live recording from 1985 and features 14 tracks (listed as tracks 19-32, if you click the "see all 32 tracks on this disc" link, above). As far as I can tell it is the same recording that was previously released on its own as 'Chelsea Girl Live' (despite not featuring any of the songs from the 1967 'Chelsea Girl' album - it was recorded in Chelsea Town Hall, though).

I quite like the post-punk/rock version of Nico here, but I'd advise people to check out the 'Frozen Borderline' set, 'Chelsea Girl' and 'The Velvet Underground and Nico' before this, even though those are all quite different from each other. I'd probably rate this a bit higher than 'The End' because that album sounds, to me, like a meandering, slightly muddled version of 'The Marble Index' and 'Desertshore' (now brilliant reissued together as 'The Frozen Borderline') - and I also prefer the much simpler verion of the title track on the 'June 1, 1974' Kevin Ayres/Eno/Nico/Cale live album.

'Drama of Exile', by contrast, I think succeeds on its own terms - you may well hate those terms, though.

I'm listening to Disc 2 as I write this, it seems to be very well recorded, and still quite rock-oriented (although the Harmonium is back in places). Nico isn't exactly in stunning voice, unfortunately. However, given that this reissue is much cheaper than the second-hand copies of 'Drama of Exile' and includes a the Saeda/Vegas single as well, I'm happy regardless of what's on the 2nd disc.

The inlay booklet contains a fairly generic account of the Nico story in the 80s and seemingly randomly placed selection of press clippings. From one of these we learn that Nico, at least for a while, loved Manchester (where she was living at the time), hated 'Coronation Street' and liked 'Brideshead Revisited'.
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