This is a very so-so introduction to Nico- far from the excellent John Cale, Nick Drake, Free, John Martyn, Julian Cope and Traffic compilations in this series.
It opens with the good Dylan song 'I'll Keep it With Mine' (written during his peak 60's period)from the excellent, mediocrely produced 'Chelsea Girl'. Next with have the version of 'All Tomorrows Parties' that has surfaced on several Velvets reissues already (such as 'Peel Slowly & See'). 'You Forgot to Answer' is from the dark (how else?) album 'The End'- though that album would be a wiser purchase. Lou Reed's 'Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams' is the next track from 'Chelsea Girl'- and is somewhere between 'Foggy Notion' and 'I'm Sticking With You'. It would have been better to give her 'Ocean', 'Pale Blue Eyes' or 'Why don't You Smile Now'. 'Valley of the Kings' and 'Secret Side' are the other tracks from 'The End'- and make less sense when there is nothing here to represent the progression from 'Chelsea Girl' to 'The Marble Index' to 'Desertshore'. This is due to contractual problems- the fact that Nico bounced around record companies in the late 60's/early 70's. The live version of 'The End' should lead to a purchase of the 'Live 74' cd with Kevin Ayers et al. 'It was a Pleasure Then' is a freeform mess best skipped- while Cale's 'Little Sister' is OK- but hardly up to the quality of songs such as 'If You Were Still Around' or 'Ship of Fools'. 'Eulogy to Lenny Bruce', written by Tim Hardin, is great- better off buying 'Chelsea Girl'. As for the Velvets songs- why not put on 'I'll Be Your Mirror' too?...The 'Heroine' compilation is more definitive, though not as well mastered. This is a lost opportunity- nothing from the Nico/Cale masterpiece 'The Marble Index' or the deleted follow-up 'Desertshore'. Nothing from the patchy 80's period on Rough Trade or 'Camera Obscura'. Not her final recording, the awesome duet 'Your Kisses Burn' (from Marc Almond's 'The Stars We Are'). Plus, it would have been nice to include her first recording, the Immediate single 'I'm Not Sayin'- recorded with Jimmy Page in 1965...For the best introduction get 'Chelsea Girl', 'The Marble Index', 'Desertshore' and 'The End' (I take it you already own 'The Velvet Underground & Nico'- the best debut album of all time?). Far from definitive- how could this represent Nico when it looks over songs like 'Afraid', 'No One is There' and 'Frozen Warnings'?
on 14 June 2002
It would be difficult to release a "best of" abum for Nico as it would need to be a double album such is the breadth and volume of her work. This album does however serve as an excellent summary of her work.
The tracks on the album are mixed in a fairly random order but include music from "The Velvet Underground and Nico", her debut album (much of it written by the Velvets) "Chelsea Girls", "Marble Index" and "The End". Whilst her earlier work is reasonably easy to relate to, her later compositions are quite dark and alternative. Her later work is very enjoyable to listen to but it does take a bit of time to get into.
Nothing yet released sounds like Nico's music and songs. A highly recommended experience.