The Blue Angel

Side 1:

  1. Femme Fatale (2:35)
    The Velvet Underground & Nico
  2. All Tomorrow's Parties (5:55)
    The Velvet Underground & Nico
  3. I'll Keep it with Mine (3:17)
    Chelsea Girl
  4. Chelsea Girls (7:22)
    Chelsea Girl
  5. Janitor of Lunacy (4:07) *

Side 2:

  1. Heroes (6:05)
    Drama of Exile
  2. One More Chance (5:42)
    Drama of Exile
  3. Sixty/Forty (4:52)
    Drama of Exile
  4. I'm Waiting for the Man (4:14)
    Drama of Exile
  5. The End (9:16) *

* Chelsea Town Hall, London, 1985-08-09
   Previously unreleased


the Blue Angel NL LP Aura AUL 731
NL LP Aura AUL 731
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Executive Producer: Aaron Six. Compiled by Sandy Robertson

I remember a time when the Sixties became the Seventies, and just around that moment of change, there was a younger me sitting through a TV screening of Fellini's film La Dolce Vita, that hymn to corruption and decadence, bored yet alert. For what ? Nico! Suddenly there was this six-foot blonde goddess swanning around dark catacombs with some subtitle saying she was afraid that a ghost was going to lay her. She didn't look like she could ever be afraid of anything.

Who is Nico ? She's the girl who went to New York City, sang at a club called (appropriately enough) The Blue Angel and moved in with a 17 year-old songwriter named Jackson Browne. She's the nouveau Dietrich who got spotted by artist Andy Warhol and ended up starring in his split screen epic Chelsea Girls.

The real beginning of the Nico legend however coincides with her being asked to sing with the Velvet Underground at Warhol's multimedia Exploding Plastic Inevitable psycho dramas. These events were testament to chanteuse's ability to improvise vocally along with Lou Reed's Ostrich Guitar and John Cale's murderous viola.

For this collection we've taken two cuts from the ensemble's debut album The Velvet Underground And Nico, featuring our heroine's dulcet icicle tones: Femme Fatale and All Tomorrow's Parties.

After the short-lived EPI binge, which made Nico something of a media star (or Superstar, to use Warhol's terminology) came the first of Nico's solo projects. Chelsea Girl had an impressive selection of musical talents: Jackson Browne, John Cale and Lou Reed, all of whom, 'tis said, were madly in love with her at the same time. Under the aegis of legendary producer Tom Wilson, Nico came up with what is to this day her lightest textured work. Even so, Reed's lyrics to Chelsea Girls is like a list of inmates at Charenton delivered by a very astute Marquis De Sade. Also from this LP we've selected a tune by another of Tom Wilson's clients, Dylan's I'll Keep It with Mine.

The hardcore devotees of Nico's voice, the folks who can't get enough of that sepulchral vocal/harmonium combo, are wont to worship at the altar of songs from two albums, both resulting from her on/off collaborations with Welsh dementoid John Cale: The Marble Index and Desertshore. Owing to the intransigence of a certain past record company, we can't actually bring you any selections from these platters, though we've unearthed a previously unissued live version of Desertshore's most masterful song Janitor of Lunacy.

In the early Seventies in Paris, a Cale/Reed/Nico gig fueled rumours of a Velvets reunion. There's also been a gathering of talents that's since become near mythical. In 1974, Nico, Cale, Eno and Kevin Ayers found themselves all inked to Island Records. Ayers was a long-time Nico admirer (his song Decadence was about her) and Eno had often voiced his admiration for the VU clan, so there came about the fabled ACNE Show on June 1st, '74, and a hastily-mixed album of the show was in stores days later. A great show, but not a great record. At the same time Nico's album The End was around, featuring a somewhat overblown version of Jim Morrison/Doors tune of that name. We include here a much starker unreleased live version of The End for your delectation.

The best of her recent work has undoubtedly been the Drama of Exile album. It features surprisingly incredible covers of Reed's I'm Waiting for the Man. (Nico was scheduled to sing on the original, but Reed changed his mind in the studio) and Bowie's Heroes (written for Nico), both included here. Also contained are two more of the best from those sessions, the oblique, deadly and opaque One More Chance and the military like Sixty/Forty.

As we were putting together this package some cynics said we ought to get it out quick in case Nico just melted away, as icicles will. I doubt that any summer could manage that trick.

Who is Nico ?

Sandy Robertson

© 1996-2011
Serge Mironneau