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Chelsea Girl is the debut solo album by Nico. It was released in October 1967 by Verve Records, also home to The Velvet Underground. The name of the album is a reference to Andy Warhol's 1966 film Chelsea Girls, which Nico starred in. The sixth track of the album (or first on Side B on vinyl) is titled "Chelsea Girls".
Many of the songs on the album have instrumental work from The Velvet Underground, whom Nico had previously collaborated with the year before on The Velvet Underground & Nico, as well as song writing credits from members of the band. The song "I'll Keep It with Mine", which is also featured on the album, was written by Bob Dylan, and the album also features three songs by Jackson Browne, who also contributes guitar to the album.
After collaborating as a singer with The Velvet Underground on their debut The Velvet Underground & Nico (recorded during 1966, released in March 1967), Warhol superstar Nico toured with the band in Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable (EPI) multimedia roadshow. Before the EPI came to an end in 1967, Nico took up residence in a New York City coffeehouse as solo folk chanteuse, accompanied in turn by acquainted guitarists, such as Tim Hardin, Jackson Browne and Leonard Cohen, but also her Velvet Underground bandmates Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison and John Cale.
Some of her accompanists wrote songs for her to sing, and these form the backbone of Chelsea Girl. Browne and Hardin contributed some songs, "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" by Lou Reed was part of the earliest Velvet Underground repertoire (which did not surface as a Velvet Underground recording until it was included in the 1995 box set Peel Slowly and See), and Reed, Cale and Morrison in various combinations contributed four more songs. Additionally, Bob Dylan gave her one of his songs to record: "I'll Keep It with Mine".
Musically, Chelsea Girl is best described as a cross between chamber folk and 1960s pop. The musical backing is relatively simple, consisting of one or two guitars or, alternatively, a keyboard instrument, played by either Browne or (a combination of) her Velvet Underground colleagues. There are no drums or bass instruments. Adding to the chamber folk feel of the music is the strings and flute arrangement superimposed over the initial recordings by producer Tom Wilson and arranger Larry Fallon without involving or consulting Nico.
Nico was dissatisfied with the finished product. Looking back in 1981, she stated:
||I still cannot listen to it, because everything I wanted for that record, they took it away. I asked for drums, they said no. I asked for more guitars, they said no. And I asked for simplicity, and they covered it in flutes! [...] They added strings and – I didn't like them, but I could live with them. But the flute! The first time I heard the album, I cried and it was all because of the flute.
Track listing 
Side A 
- "The Fairest of the Seasons" (Jackson Browne, Gregory Copeland) – 4:06
- "These Days" (Browne) – 3:30
- "Little Sister" (John Cale, Lou Reed) – 4:22
- "Winter Song" (Cale) – 3:17
- "It Was a Pleasure Then" (Nico, Reed, Cale) – 8:02
Side B 
- "Chelsea Girls" (Reed, Sterling Morrison) – 7:22
- "I'll Keep It With Mine" (Bob Dylan) – 3:17
- "Somewhere There's a Feather" (Browne) – 2:16
- "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" (Reed) – 5:07
- "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" (Tim Hardin) – 3:45
- ^ Allmusic review
- ^ Rolling Stone review
- ^ Nico quoted in Dave Thompson's liner notes for the 2002 Deluxe re-issue of The Velvet Underground & Nico, which includes all five Velvet collaborations for Chelsea Girl.
External links