Posts Tagged ‘Nico’

Before she became the Teutonic ice queen chanteuse of the Velvet Underground, Nico, via her then boyfriend Rolling Stone Brian Jones, was introduced to Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and signed to his Immediate Records label, where a young Jimmy Page was employed as house producer, session musician and A&R scout. (Page’s brief career as a session musician saw him adding his distinctive guitar sounds to recordings by The Who, The Kinks, PJ Proby, Lulu, Jackie DeShannon, Van Morrison and Them, Burt Bacharach, French singer Johnny Hallyday, Marianne Faithfull, Vashti Bunyan, Donovan and many others. It’s amusing to think of Jimmy Page being a part of Petula Clark’s “Downtown” single, but there he was. There are several CD compilations of Page’s early session work, probably the best is Hip Young Guitar Slinger.)

Page produced and played on Nico’s sole 1965 single for Immediate, a cover of Canadian folkie Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’ ” which was backed by “The Last Mile,” a song composed by Page and Oldham. Jimmy Page plays a six-string in the song, while Brian Jones plays a twelve-string guitar. The single is being re-released by Charly Records in a gatefold sleeve featuring photography by Gered Mankowitz from the original recording session for Record Store Day on April 21.

A promotional film for “I’m Not Sayin’” was shot at the site of London’s West India Docks (now the considerably different looking Canary Wharf) by Peter Whitehead.

thanks dangerousminds

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By 1970, German singer Nico was best known for her roles as an Andy Warhol superstar and with The Velvet Underground  carving out her own artistic legacy, having already dramatically transitioned from the folk pop of her 1967 solo debut, Chelsea Girl, toward 1969’s avant-garde The Marble Index. The follow-up Desertshore continues down the dark path cut by the Marble Index, with Nico drawling poetically over harmonium drones while accompanied by fellow Velvets alum John Cale. The album’s second track, “The Falconer,” stands out in Nico’s discography not just for her performance but for the striking lyrics and arrangement, morphing from tenebrous to luminous and back again. Upon release, little attention was given to Nico’s trilogy of records in this era and style (The Marble Index, Desertshore, and The End), but their modern influence has proven immeasurable.

This 3 x CD Collection brings together a set of rare recordings by the Velvets, 50 plus years (for most) after they were first made and which will complete collections worldwide for the millions of fans still flying the flag for this strange collective. Everything about The Velvet Underground was astonishing. Take a female drummer with one beat (Mo Tucker), a classically trained Welshman (John Cale), a blonde German beauty who couldn’t sing (Nico), and two buddies from Syracuse University (Sterling Morrison and Lou Reed) who all came together as a band formed to promote Lou’s song ‘The Ostrich’.

Add another blonde who painted soup cans, a name derived from a novel about sado-masochism and Verve as a major label, and you arrive at the Velvet Underground, a band who rewrote the rules for music as we know it.

CD ONE features rehearsals for the band s first album, bizarrely broadcast across radio waves at the time, and which give a sense of quite how that seismic album came to be. The first disc also includes three rare live cuts recorded in NYC the same year.

CD TWO includes the group s show at La Cave in Cleveland, Ohio on 2nd October 1968, by which time John Cale had been fired from the group and had just been replaced by Doug Yule for this show.

CD THREE contains the concert given by Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris on 19th January 1972, a show as legendary as the band whose name remains the starting point for all modern music.

Patti Smith Avant-Garde Nico Tribute 'Killer Road'

Patti Smith performed a unique and mysterious tribute to late singer Nico two years ago with ambient backing music from her daughter, Jesse Paris Smith, and a trio called Soundwalk Collective. It featured sounds from Nico’s own harmonium and sounds that approximate what the former Velvet Underground collaborator might have heard when she collapsed while bicycling in Ibiza in 1988, an event that preceded her death in a hospital later that day. Now Smith’s morbid homage, “Killer Road” – culled from Nico’s poetry – is getting a proper release on Soundwalk Collective’s Killer Road album, due out September 2nd.

The four-and-a-half-minute–track opens with bug-like sounds that give way to chilly, sighing atmospherics. “The killer road is waiting for you,” Smith speaks, “like a finger, pointing in the night … Who’s to blame?” She whispers, “I have come to die with you,” as new sound effects and field recordings crescendo around her.

The Smiths and the Soundwalk Collective first performed the work as part of the Crossing the Line festival at the French Institute Alliance Française in 2014. Nine tracks appear on the Killer Road LP, each containing Nico’s poetry.

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Nico once recalled apprehension when thinking about her first impressions of Smith. “The first time I ever saw Patti was at Andy’s,” she said, according to Dancing Barefoot: The Patti Smith Story. “She was skinny, like a rat, but she was from New Jersey and so was Lou [Reed], so that was all right. She didn’t speak much; she just stood and watched the people. I don’t know if I even knew her name.”

She’d later go on to praise Smith: “She was a female Leonard Cohen when she moved from writing to singing, and I liked her because she was thin and strong.”

Smith later played an important role in Nico’s life, buying back the singer’s harmonium at “an obscure shop” in Paris, as Nico put it, after it had gone missing. “I was so happy and ashamed,” Nico recalled. “I said, ‘I’ll give you back the money when I get it,’ but she insisted the organ was a present … I cried.” Nico would play the harmonium again on her final album, 1985’s Camera Obscura.