Finally, Nico's fourth solo album 'The End' has been remastered; it being done so beautifully. You can hear all the instrumentation far more clearly.
For those uninitiated into the world of Nico, this was definitely Nico's darkest hour; it perhaps being her finest. Nico, never being one to have to prove herself, does with very little effort. Indeed, if you compare this to her previous two albums 'The Marble Index' and 'Desertshore' it sounds far more relaxed and unforced. One of course cannot forget John Cale's production on this and other albums and you have to wonder what would have been the result without him.
'The End' consists of eight songs; the first six self-penned. You think you cannot go deeper into the beautiful abyss that was 'The Marble Index' and 'Desertshore' until you hear these. Highlights, for me, are 'You Forget To Answer', my favourite Nico tune, and 'Innocent and Vain' where John Cale's talent for creativity is for all to hear. Seventh comes a cover of The Doors 'The End'; Jim Morrison being an ex-lover and 'soul brother' to Nico. Lastly and perhaps Nico's finest hour is a completely straight version of 'Das Lied Der Deutschen', the banned German national anthem. Her stark major chords stand out and make this a recording to be proud of. Jimi Hendrix and The Sex Pistols' similar efforts come no where near Nico's.
The second CD will please. First comes 'Secret Side' from the John Peel Session of 20th January 1971, previously released. Nico returned to John Peel more than three years later on 3rd December 1974 and sessions of 'We've Got The Gold', 'Janitor of Lunacy', 'You Forget To Answer' and 'The End' are included, all previously unreleased. From Nico's appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test on 7th January 1975 comes 'Secret Side' and 'Valley of the Kings', again all previously unreleased. Finally comes 'The End', Nico's sole contribution to the joint live album recorded with Kevin Ayers, John Cale and Brian Eno, 1 June 1974 and 'Das Lied Der Deutschen' not included on the album but released here for the first time.
Also included are refreshingly unpretentious and informative liner notes written by Andrew Batt and lyrics and some wonderful of time photographs (all coming in a traditional 2CD jewel case, for those wondering!)
The first two of these received deluxe treatment with rhe release of The Frozen Borderline 1960-1970. Therein, not only were the original albums presented, but outtakes and alternate versions abounded as well. Now, The End also gets deluxe treatment as a 2CD reissue. The first disc features a remastered version of that one of the most important albums of all time, while the second disc has material from approximately the same time frame, the mid-1970s.
Outtakes and alternate versions would certainly have been more welcomed, but are probably not presented here as none were available. That said, what comprises the second disc is very important unreleased material all the same. It kicks off with one track from the previously available 1971 Peel Sessions: Secret Side. Since there was available room for the entire 4-track set, it is a shame only the one track is featured. This is followed by the impossibly rare and complete Peel Sessions from 1974 and this is as close as you're going to get to hearing alternate versions of the original album. No Cale, no Eno, no Manzanera... just Nico executing her songs without collaborators. In a way, the purity of these versions are the highlight of the deluxe edition. There are also two unreleased Old Grey Whistle Test tracks from 1975, which add to the importance of this set. The second disc finishes with the controversial and previously unreleased Das Lied Der Deutschen as well as the familiar The End performance from the June 1, 1974 album.
Previous to this most important trilogy was the flawed Chelsea Girl; imperfect due to the added string arrangement and flute, which pretty much ruined the greatness of Nico, Cale, Reed and Morrison's otherwise "soft" Velvet Underground and Nico outting. And of course before that was the great VU&N album itself. Subsequent to The End was relatively mediocre albums; mainly unofficial live albums which were never meant to be heard in the first place. The End, along with its two immediate predecessors, is what made Nico great. She tread musically territory where no one had gone before and no one ever will again. In that regard, Nico's music is timeless.
I cannot recommend this title highly enough for those familiar with her work as it adds more to the legend that was Nico.
Andy Warhol -bless him- might have taken her for a chanteuse, someone to add a certain visual levity to the Velvet Underground, but -bless her- Nico had other, more substantial ideas, and they involved John Cale and a harmonium. Nearly all of those ideas were a refutation of what Warhol stood for in terms of the fetishization of the individual and consequent notions of celebrity. Indeed if anyone embodied the antimatter of celebrity then Nico did, and without ever planning to. This may account for why when this album originally came out back in 1974 it was as outside of that era as it is of this.
As with her earlier albums THE MARBLE INDEX and DESERTSHORE there are moments here which simply defy rational analysis -the squally electronica at the end of `Innocent and Vain' for example. Even the woman's harmonium playing is of an order which is entirely opposite any Baptist congregation, as she shows on `Valley of the Kings' over both the original LP reading and a performance culled from the "Old Grey Whistle Test" in February of 1975 on the second disc; she must have stood out like the proverbial in the midst of the semi-smooth Americana that was often that programme's fare......
The title track is the Doors song, which in that band's hands, fronted of course by Jim Morrison's irritating croon, didn't amount to half as much as it does in Nico's. This is not simply down to her taking the title too literally or anything so predictable. Instead the fact that she wilfully pushes the sonic envelope results in a performance far more compelling, and urgent for all of its icy detachment.
Ultimately this is essential stuff for the adventurer and indeed anyone still not persuaded by the idea that physical beauty equates to vacuity. Nico's music is not the stuff of nostalgia either, for the reason mentioned above. Instead it might be another of those cults, a taste acquired perhaps through the capriciously dogged persistence it was made with.
Fantastic and clear remaster of this album, which is probably her finest work. I rarely notice significant differences in sound, but on this disc they really are very evident and add to the experience. Innocent and Vain and You Forgot to Answer are two essential songs, creating a starkly bleak landscape. Heavily recommended.
Nico doesn't quite sound like anyone although Bjork at times sounds like she could have been influenced by her. Each track here has a musical similarity (namely the harmonium) which makes this possibly the best album of dirges you will ever hear.
Hopefully you are not looking for cheery, straightforward music because things get progressively stranger as the album progresses. Songs such as "Secret Side" and "You Forgot to Answer" are beautiful medium-length laments; the last two tracks are covers that hugely differ from the originals. First of all, "The End" (originally by The Doors) is made even scarier (if you thought that possible) which leads to an improvement on the excellent original. Nico's voice is even more perfect for the spooky spoken part of the track than Jim Morrison's. The music is more terrifying than the Door's version. Then, finally, the controverial cover of "Das Lied Der Deutschen". Politics aside, it has a nice tune. It is interesting hearing such an upbeat song given the dirge treatment with the harmonium.
The End may have influenced numerous female artists but does not really sound like anyone else (or any other Nico album, for that matter). If you hate one track you may hate the lot. However, a few listens should make a fan of good music slowly appreciate that this is an impressive and unique record.
An absolutely stunning album. I'm familiar with Nico's excellent work with the Velvets and her Chelsea Girl album but this is just a massive leap forward which I can imagine it being listened to in hundreds of years time with it's timeless sound. John Cale and assorted heavy friends Eno, etc have done a cracking job in bringing out the best in her. The second disc, well it's at least equal to the album and maybe even better. Recommended wholeheartedly.
Nico's last good album, before she fell into the bad habit of revisiting and recycling her past achievements via dodgy back-up bands, bad live albums and poor choices of material. Her live performances in the '80s were often abysmal, and rather sad affairs. IMO, her recording legacy should really stop with this LP, apart from a couple of later singles, and a one-off song recorded for the John Peel show with Rip, Rig & Panic.
This is truly an unusual and spellbinding work, the product of a unique sensibility and imagination. The extra disc for this 2012 release contains interesting versions of the songs, but the collection is not a 'deluxe' edition. Still it is a good upgrade, with sound remastering and bonus tracks, for what is a dark masterwork.
Gloom. Gloomier. Gloomiest. If this was anymore gloomy they'd have to invent a new word for it. Nico is the Gloomeister. I love it Her stilted, mannered, Germanic and yet melodic voice. No drums, no rhythm. Her medieval pop sensilbilities. This album is beautiful, original and very moving. Did I mention it was gloomy?
there is nothing wrong with the music it is sublime and darkly romantic. the second disc has an ancient peel session and songs from the whistle test and a rainbow concert. the packaging however is a major disappointment just a standard double cd case. a deluxe edition should be in a glossy black tri-fold digipack. the disc labels are not the classic pink I which if not the actual 1974 graphic could have been adapted as a black I design. This would be much preferable to the sunny island label that is usually used for budget reggae albums. The End