Chelsea Girl (album)
|Studio album by Nico|
|Recorded||April to May 1967
at Mayfair Recording Studios,
|Genre||Folk-pop, chamber folk|
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, in which Nico starred. 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, and 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 can be 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, but there are no drums or bass instruments and adding to the chamber folk feel of the music are the string and flute overdubs added to the initial recordings by producer Tom Wilson and arranger Larry Fallon without involving or consulting Nico.
AllMusic called the album "an unqualified masterpiece". Trouser Press, on the other hand, wrote that the album "is sabotaged by tepid arrangements and weak production" and is "of interest mainly for its links to the band Nico had just left."
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.||”|
Two tracks from the album – "The Fairest of the Seasons" and "These Days" – were used in Wes Anderson's 2001 film, The Royal Tenenbaums. "The Fairest of the Seasons" was also used in Gus Van Sant's 2011 film Restless. "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" is used in Andrew Dominik's 2012 film Killing Them Softly.
- "The Fairest of the Seasons" (Jackson Browne, Gregory Copeland) – 4:06
- "These Days" (Jackson Browne) – 3:30
- "Little Sister" (John Cale, Lou Reed) – 4:22
- "Winter Song" (John Cale) – 3:17
- "It Was a Pleasure Then" (Lou Reed, John Cale, Christa Päffgen) – 8:02
- "Chelsea Girls" (Lou Reed, Sterling Morrison) – 7:22
- "I'll Keep It With Mine" (Bob Dylan) – 3:17 Note: this song was recorded by Dylan in 1965 but remained unreleased on any of his own albums until the 1985 Biograph set.
- "Somewhere There's a Feather" (Jackson Browne) – 2:16
- "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" (Lou Reed) – 5:07
- "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" (Tim Hardin) – 3:45
- Nico Päffgen – vocals
- Jackson Browne – electric guitar (A1-2, B2-3, B5)
- Lou Reed – electric guitar (A3, A5, B1, B4)
- John Cale – viola, organ, guitar (A3-5)
- Sterling Morrison – electric guitar (B1, B4)
- Tom Wilson – producer
- Val Valentin - director of engineering
- Gary Kellgren - recording and remix engineer
- Larry Fallon – string and flute arrangements
- Discogs - Mayfair Recording Studios (profile and discography)
- Chelsea Girl at AllMusic
- Rolling Stone review
- Isler, Scott; Robbins, Ira. "TrouserPress.com :: Nico". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved July 5, 2016.
- 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.