April 26, 2010

Chelsea Girl - Nico

Try and point to a significant man to man dialogue in the work of Jane Austen. You’ll be hard pressed. Austen wrote what she knew and having little idea what blokes talked about in private, she left well alone. She’s a woman’s woman. her analogue, Nico is a man’s woman. Bear with me.

9 out of the 10 tracks on Chelsea Girl are written by Nico's ex-lovers. Even the co-writes by Reed and Cale. She is receptive, passive and her dependency, like her relationship with the needle, is essentially penetrative.

Consider. Years of modelling and vamping around Europe with talented auteurs has led nowhere. A cameo in Fellini's Dolce Vita is not parlayed into an acting career. Strip Tease, her early recording with arch French diddler Serge Gainsbourg is passed over for a version by Juliette Greco (her voice isn’t sufficiently breathy and infantile); a spell with mod manipulator Andrew Loog Oldham fails to launch her in the charts; she washes up in New York and is taken up by Andy as his next superstar. They are briefly inseparable.

I'll be your mirror / reflect what you are / in case you don't know....

Chelsea Girl is the perfect album by made by a model. In many respects, the later Marble Index is superior precisely because her voice - like her new instrument the harmonium -  is her own. On Chelsea Girl the narcotic monotone is not yet austere, narcoleptic drone. What her first album has instead are wide-eyed melodies tarted up with baroque strings that lull you into a washed out mood of regret, degradation, and loss.

She works a magic within the limits set. A world of beauty and decay in miniature. Jane would have approved.

Oddi wrth y brawd


David Elliott said...

Little known Krautrock fact: Lutz Ulbrich of Ashra was one of Nico's later lovers. He organized a tribute concert in Berlin in 2008.

Y Brawd said...

Ulbrich come very lately. Wasn't there a Nico connection with 1975 Ashra album Le Berceau de Cristal? Ebayed it years ago having grown thoroughly bored...not one Manuel's finest moments.

Good on Lutz for organising the concert, mind. Was Cale there?