Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Chelsea Girl Next Door: Nico 80

Post #3 in our little consecutive string here is another 80th birthday bash, the second of three in total for this month.
Yesterday's honoree and today's were born just 24 hours apart, and each went mostly by just one name in their careers. Must be something about October 1938 babies.
Our 80th birthday girl started as a model and actress, coming to the attention of the world as one of Fellini's statuesque beauties in his 1960 epic, La Dolce Vita.
It wasn't long before she was drafted to sing with one of the 1960s' most iconic and challengingly influential bands. 
As Brian Eno once famously said, not many folks bought that first Velvet Underground record... but everyone who did started their own band.
From there she embarked on a hugely successful solo career, with her first records on her own produced by her Velvets cohort John Cale.
Often accompanying herself with just an Indian Pump Organ, her live performances of the 1970s and 1980s are the stuff of serious legend.
Her interpretations of other people's material -- Bob Dylan is alleged to have written his classic I'll Keep It with Mine for her -- are sort of her signature... her infamously gothic dirge-take on Jim Morrison's The End made The Doors sound like The Archies' Sugar, Sugar by comparison.
She's been gone for three decades, since she crashed her bike (so the story goes, on her way to buy heroin) and died from her injuries. But the shadow of Christa Päffgen -- the notoriously dark chanteuse known simply as Nico -- still looms large over the music of our lifetimes.
To celebrate what would have been her 80th, I broke out an LP remaster I worked on a while back, of one of my all-time favorite records of hers that's never been fully reissued in the CD era.
This depicts an almost-complete concert from the Fall of 1985, when she and her band The Faction traveled to several Eastern Bloc countries to play. In spite of the title of the record, this show is from Rotterdam -- one of the non-Communist stops on the tour -- and is not technically from Behind the Iron Curtain.
Nico & The Faction
Behind the Iron Curtain
Pandora's Music Box '85
De Doelen Concertgebouw
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

01 All Saints' Night
02 Procession
03 Secret Side
04 Das Lied vom Einsamen Mädchen
05 Win a Few
06 König
07 Purple Lips
08 All Tomorrow's Parties

01 Fearfully In Danger
02 The End
03 My Funny Valentine
04 Sixty/Forty
05 Tananore 
06 Janitor of Lunacy
07 My Heart Is Empty
08 Femme Fatale 

Total time: 1:25:57

Nico - pump organ, vocals
James Young - piano, keyboards
Eric Random - tabla, percussion, synthesizer
Eric Graham Dowdall - electronic percussion
Toby Toman - drums

2015 EN remaster of the original Dojo 2LP from 1986
This record has found its way to CD a couple of times in the last 30 years, but Side 3 has never been a part of those reissues. Today's post corrects that omission.
I'll be back next week with the Fifth Anniversary party posts -- I've got some tasty ones planned -- but for now let our birthday Chelsea Girl Nico cast her spell over your Tuesday!--J.
10.16.1938 - 7.18.1988


  1. Thank you! I have the tape which I fear playing in case it snaps (my 2nd copy - never got around to digitising it) - one of those dodgy long-play ones that never had great sound anyway - and only today bought the 2017 CD Version which misses tracks but rather strangely adds bonus tracks from other shows... Anyway I’ve always loved this album since I first heard it 27 years ago at a friend’s house - I would pester him so much to play it he eventually said ‘oh just keep the bloody thing!’. I did. Back then before you could google an artist and have their entire back catalogue within minutes, it took quite a while to get hold of The Marble Index, Desertshore, The End but looking back now it was part of the pleasure - to search out and find these rare treasures, scan every inch of the cover and to give your full attention to listening to them, something I rarely find myself doing now.
    Thanks also for Stereolab - met Laetitia once when I worked as a hotel barman and she was just so lovely. She put me on the guest list for their gig and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.
    On a semi-lateral note the idea of Neu! with Nico on vocals has long been one of my favourite fantasy bands... Stereolab were never quite that but perhaps the closest it’s ever come to a reality... in my head anyway.