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on 11 July 2017
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on 22 October 2017
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 July 2017
I had heard very little about the singer Nico apart from being slightly aware that she had worked in some way with The Velvet Underground (and Marianne Faithfull had recorded a great song which referenced her), but when I saw the front cover of this attractive woman staring back at me from the top shelf of HMV, I decided to pick this album up as part of the 2 for £10, and I'm not sorry that I did. 'Chelsea Girl, her first solo album is a very pleasant album, released in 1966, and a relaxing folk-pop affair that was typical of it's time and place. If you like tuneful, tender music with intelligent reflectful lyrics of the same calibre as say Bob Dylan and Donovan, this is for you.

In fact, one of the songs on here was written by Dylan, 'I'll Keep It with Mine', which several artists have also recorded like Judy Collins and Marianne Faithfull, but Nico's version holds up among the other versions I've heard. Whilst it took me a tiny while to fully appreciate the girl's German accent, I can now say that I really do love her deep, flat and slightly unperfect voice (the latter word is not a criticism, as many of my all-time favourites artists, including Faithfull, Dylan and Donovan have limited vocals but they sure know how to project a song with sincerity - as Nico can). My highlights here are the opening track 'The Fairest of the Seasons', and the truly haunting 'These Days', but each of these ten songs, which came with the pens of such great songwriters as Lou Reed, Jackson Browne and Tim Hardin, are worth listening through to the end.

Produced by Tom Wilson who produced the majority of Dylan's earliest classics in the Sixties as well as stuff by Simon and Garfunkel and The Velvet Underground, the instrumentation is quite superb, and I am so glad that I took a punt and bought 'Chelsea Girl', which must be among the most overlooked great albums of it's decade by a female singer. I have to say though, although the quality of this CD release is quite acceptable, it is nevertheless screaming out for a remastering, and it's long overdue.
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on 15 March 2007
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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on 1 April 2001
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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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 July 2005
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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on 12 December 2003
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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on 26 January 2002
'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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Chelsea Girl is little more than a collection of ballads and pop songs which were intended to make Nico another Nancy Sinatra or Dusty Springfield. Eight of the songs are instantly forgettable and not the Nico I know and love. That is the pensive blonde of the front cover.
On the back is the more threatening icon whose doom laden tones were later to thrill and chill. Only one real hint of the later "Marble Index" or "Desert Shore" appears in the lengthy "It was a pleasure then". From the lyrics, droning harmonium and funereal vocals it is obviously not a pleasure now. This track will both drain and stimulate you. It may entertain you.
"Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" is a sad ballad and although the music is not truly Nico the delivery is. Listen and weep, and feel better for the release.
This album is for completists only so don't expect a "Drama of Exile" or "The End".
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on 27 January 2015
This is a perfect depiction in sound of the winter landscape of a troubled heart that can't remember what it's yearning for, but still longs for it anyway. Nico seems to have inhabited this place forever, and I gather she never did quite find her way out of it to that "fairest of the seasons". She and her songwriter companions left a haunting testament of travelling through this foggy, icy terrain, complete with a distant vision of snow-capped sunlit uplands that they just can't reach. 'Somewhere There's A Feather', 'It Was A Pleasure Then', 'The Fairest Of The Seasons' - even the titles seem wistful, forlornly hopeful. Better to 'Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams', though the dreams are often unsettling and nightmarish. I wouldn't want to live here too long, but my heart goes out to those who have no choice but to make the best of it - and Nico's sonic portrait is a very good best.
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