Quarkmonkey's 1001 Album challenge

77. Nico – Chelsea Girl

Nico+-+Chelsea+Girl+-+Sealed+-+LP+RECORD-421790When I mentioned to a colleague that Nico was next on my list of albums to write about, his immediate response was, “well at least I’ll know why if you’re not in on Monday”.

He has a point really. KC and the Sunshine Band this isn’t. It’s sparse, bleak, almost caustic in its minimalist sound and wistful vocals, as if you were listening to the dying swan song of Marlene Deitrich over a string quartet.

But for Nico, soon to find fame with the Velvet Underground and an impressive lineup of bedroom conquests, it’s OK because when it comes to that mood of beautiful desolation, she gets it just right. The title track is just gorgeous, like a satin blanket for the ears, and standout tracks like “It Was a Pleasure Thing” and opener “The Fairest of the Seasons” are soothing and warm.

The album wasn’t a giant hit on its initial release, and Nico herself was one of its harshest critics, but it’s a wonderful (if not immediately accessible) 45 minutes of vocal art-rock ambience, and a perfect example of a great ‘headphones’ album.

1 thought on “77. Nico – Chelsea Girl

  1. I think this is a great example of how you don’t have to have a great voice to be a great singer. Technically you wouldn’t say her voice is a thing of beauty but it’s so right for the songs and arrangements here. Take a song like These Days – I once spent a fun afternoon compiling cover versions of the this wonderful song and it’s great to compare Jackson Browne’s original (written when he was 16 – 16!)with Kathryn William’s pure British folkie approach, Tallest Man on Earth’s cracked wail, Paul Westerberg’s rockier style and Nico’s teutonic gloom. All wonderful in their own way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *