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Heroine

Nico

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Album Review

There is a plethora of live recordings by Nico from the last decade of her life, enough to discourage even fans from investing a lot of time and effort in acquiring each one. Heroine, however, must rank not only among the best of those recordings, but among her best 1980s work. Recorded at the Library Theatre in Manchester around 1980 (an exact date is not available), it immediately has a leg up on her studio work of the era (as heard on her Drama of Exile album) in its minimal, at times almost-bare arrangements. Nico was not made to be a rock star, as some of her production seemed to insist on trying to make her. She was best as a lonely voice peering out of the darkness, and though she's backed by a band (the exact musicians are unidentified) on this set, the accompaniment's spare and spooky, as it should be. The repertoire's a good cross selection of material, spanning the Velvet Underground to her then-current songs, including "All Tomorrow's Parties," "We've Got the Gold," "Frozen Warnings," "Valley of the Kings," and "Femme Fatale." Vocally she's pretty focused and cutting, though in a somber fashion, on this recording. It has pretty good sound too, though you'll sometimes need to crank the volume a bit, so spacious and subdued is the instrumentation, which leans heavily on synth and harmonium. The 2002 CD edition on Anagram has an enhanced track/video of her singing "My Heart Is Empty," presumably from around the same time or from the exact performance documented on the album, as well as a remix of "Reich Der Traume," with vintage and remix doctors unspecified in the notes.

Biography

Born: October 16, 1938 in Cologne, Germany

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

One of the most fascinating figures of rock's fringes, Nico hobnobbed, worked, and was romantically linked with an incredible assortment of the most legendary entertainers of the '60s. The paradox of her career was that she herself never attained the fame of her peers, pursuing a distinctly individualistic and uncompromising musical career that was uncommercial, but wholly admirable and influential. Nico first rose to fame as a European supermodel, also landing a bit part in Fellini's La Dolce Vita...
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