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on 18 July 2012
This was my first Nico album and always one that I return to. It is more similar to The Marble Index than Desertshore, as it is more thematically linked. The End also happens to be the darkest, most gothic album done by Nico from this trilogy and is definately the hardest listen.

The instrumentation here is much sparser than on the previous records, further adding to that desolate emptiness that pervades a lot of Nico's work. This is done to full effect on You Forget To Answer, what with the sweeping synth of Eno, Cale's piano hammering and Nico's vocals darker and more defeated than ever. Weariness is a big theme of this album, which makes sense as it is called The End after all. The other reason it is called The End is because it contains a cover of The Doors' song of the same title. Nico's version is definately darker than their version and the weariness is so strong inside of her that as the song reaches its climax, Nico can only manage an elongated groan as appose to Morrission's enormous yelps and screams. It is a highlight for me, coming write after the creepiest Nico song on the album, We've Got The Gold, which contains some of Nico's most cryptic lyrics ever.

The album opens misleadingly with the gentle tones of a xylophone fading into Nico's harmonium. But by the time the harmonium takes the stage, you know that this is going to be a dark ride, especially when Nico drones, La, la, la, la, la, la... with a haunting chior right from the souls of entombed ghosts. Despite the fact that Nico does sound weary on this record, it is songs like Secret Side and Valley of The Kings that really show off her vocal ability and prove that she still has the power in her voice so that she does not simply drone in a monotone, as the critics lazily say of her vocal styles.

The one song however, where Nico does drone is on Innocent and Vain (the first Nico song I ever heard) but Eno's screeching synth is the real treat in that track and counteracts wonderfully against Nico's incredibly deep vocals. It is also nice to have Nico's vocals so subdued here because it makes them stand out all the better in the following, Valley of The Kings.

The final track of the ablum is Das Lied Der Deutschen, the old (racist) national German anthem. I personally think that all connotations aside, the song sounds great and because I don't understand a word of it, I just see Nico's vocals in an innocent way as the tune is great and full of passion. It is a nice light touch to end the album on after the darkness that immerses us throughout the nine plus minutes of the title track.

I would recommend this album to people who really love gothic, dark, minimalist albums, because this is what The End does better than Nico's previous two albums. What is probably doesn't do better than they is ease one into the strange world of Nico's innovative music. For that visit Desertshore first, then perhaps go for The Marble Index and finally you get to The End. I don't know about Nico's 80's output, but these albums have definately persuaded me to get them as soon as possible.

(This album is to be re-issued with bonus tracks on the 29th October 2012. It is to contain the John Peel sessions of these songs so it may be a good idea to get that instead).
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on 10 December 2000
This album is thoroughly bleak, and yet strangely enchanting. The austere minimalism of the vocal and harmonium parts gives it an almost medieval feel (it has the sort of gloomy beauty found in Gregorian chant) - but this is counterbalanced perfectly with an ambient backdrop by Brian Eno and John Cale (who produced the album). The combination of these two musical elements gives the album a unique and modern sound, so different from anything else you've ever heard that it will never date. If you are depressed by bleak music, avoid this album - but if you like your beauty on the stark side, but it now!
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Nico on voice and harmonium is assisted by Phil Manzanera on guitar, Eno on synths and producer John Cale on a range of instruments including bass, xylophone, organ, glockenspiel and piano. Together they create a bleak and chilling musical landscape for Nico's funereal vocals.

All compositions are by Nico, except The End by The Doors and Das Lied Der Deutschen by German romantic composer August Heinrich von Fallersleben. If her contributions to the Velvet Underground were melancholy, this music is way beyond lugubrious, but quite listenable on account of the great arrangements.

Of her own songs, the atmospheric You Forget To Answer, the frightening Innocent And Vain with its terrifying sound efects and the morbid Valley Of The Kings stand out; they all fall within the realm of the art song. Nico's accented pronunciation contributes to the almost classical feel.

The End and Das Lied Der Deutschen are something else. The first is well-produced, as awesome as the original and serves as a suitable introduction to the second, which is the highlight, or lowlight, of the album. Scary stuff, not for the faint of heart. To hear Nico rocking out, I recommend the album Drama Of Exile.
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Ex-Velvet Underground singer Nico was one of the most entrancing pop singers of the 20th century. And the most enigmatic. In "The End," Nico put her talents to use in a series of dark, dreamlike songs that center on death, loneliness, despair and capture.
It opens on a note that sounds almost whimsical, like a xylophone being stroked. Pretty, and a bit delicate... until you realize that Nico is singing ominously about hunters, swords and bleeding. The next few songs have a more stately musical sound, and tend to focus more on typical pop problems, like lovers who don't listen.
But that vaguely savage element comes back in in the synthy organ ballad "Innocent and Vain," where she sings, "I am a savage violator/A valet innocent and vain." But the oddest track is also best -- Nico does a defiant cover of the Doors' "The End," which may be even better than the original. Her smoky, eerie style turns Jim Morrison's opus into a beautiful sonic nightmare.
One would think that after a band like the Velvet Underground, there would be no place to go but down. Surprisingly, Nico does far better as a solo artist than she did with the legendary Lou Reed-led band -- they tend to be slower, thicker and darker.
Nico's vocals really shouldn't be as good as they are -- she rarely lifted herself out of her thickly-accented monotone, and tended to sing as if she didn't want to bother. However, there's a strange allure to her singing style, which manages to rescue mediocre songwriting like, "We've got the gold, we do not seem too old." Whatever that means.
Nico also played the harmonium, backed by Eno's synths and her ex-bandmate John Cale who played... well, quite a few instruments, including the xylophone, glockenspiel, piano and more synth. This tangle of instrumentation makes the music sound rich, twisty and almost orchestral, but with more darkness and flexibility.
Nico's own end came far too soon, but her beautiful "End" is still with us. Definitely worth checking out.
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on 20 December 2002
An experimental mixture of electronic noise, haunting vocals, and surreal lyrics that somehow comes together to create a masterpiece of subtle, timeless, but desperately emotional music.
Its hard to listen to Nico's work without placing it in the context of her life and death, but this steps outside all that and simply stands alone on its own merit.
Once you've heard this anything else that claims to be 'gothic' simply fails miserably.
Its beautiful, poetic, savage, and very dark, and it leaves you feeling vulnerable, enchanted, and totally spaced out.
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on 10 October 2007
I was on the edge of giving this three stars; but I've relented because I think it's suffering in comparison to Nico's previous two albums, which have just been re-released in an expanded edition as 'The Frozen Borderline'. Partly it's because it's not as well re-mastered as the new release of those albums; but it is definitely the weakest of the three, regardless. It suffers from meandering tunes and too much busy accompaniment from guest musicians Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera. I think it works better with just Nico's harmonium and John Cale doing the rest. Also, I think the material was stronger in 'The Marble Index' and 'Desertshore'.

So, if you're looking to investigate Nico's austere, brilliant work after the folky 'Chelsea Girl', I'd start with 'The Marble Index' and work forward to this. I'd also investigate the live version of 'The End' on the Kevin Ayres/John Cale/Nico/Eno album 'June 1, 1974'

I'd say this rates 3 and a half stars, with the hope of a properly remastered version sometime. To hear the difference check out the same tracks from this album which also feature on the remastered 'The Classic Years' compilation.
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on 27 May 2014
Never noted for being cheerful, this is Nico at her most dirge-like. Christa Päffgen (Nico's real name) received high accolades for this follow-up to Chelsea Girl when it was released these many long years ago, but it was a market flop. I well remember being taken to task for playing this album on my midnight to dawn radio show in the late 70s. "Do you realise that there are probably heaps of people who committed suicide listening to that?" My response was that at least they must have died listening to a truly great artist at the peak of her career. It is dark, but never difficult to follow Nico's emotional turmoil. What is difficult is explaining why I love this album so much. Her deep and abiding love for Jim Morrison runs through several songs, not just the title track.

My vinyl copy was ripped off several years ago along with another favourite. So I cannot directly compare this remaster with the original release. It's very far from a "just lift the gain control" remaster and is very satisfying indeed.
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on 5 December 2011
Nico and John Cale were both one offs but fortunately came together on this and the proceeding albums to make albums that are emotive,fascinating and often starkly beautiful.The End from 1974 is my favourite Nico album,but it is very much a joint work with Cale,who developed Nicos odd,bleak and simple harmonium based songs into soundscapes of complex arrangements.Cales use of screaming,screeching synth to pounding grand piano chords,rythmic acoustic guitar and advant garde percussion,complements Nicos deep melancholic voice and wailing harmonium perfectly.Although the songs are dark,powerful,at times depressive and even scary they are strangely memorable and tuneful.This is an album that has stood the test of time-more than Nico herself.It is beautifully recorded for the time,the production and performance exemplary-just check it out.
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on 2 December 2010
In my opinion it was really downhill from here, careerwise and musicwise. If you own Chelsea girl, the marble index and Desertshore as well, you really have all (or more) of Nico than you'll ever need.Voice and music are mostly teutonic, dronelike and depressing. Fits nicely in a comprehensive record collection, but you won't need to listen to it everyday, because it WILL get you down!
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