Drama of Exile

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Drama of Exile
Drama of Exile.gif
Cover as it was used by Aura for their 1981 LP release, the album's first. Also used for subsequent CD releases by other labels, except the one from Cleopatra Records (see below).
Studio album by Nico
Released 1981
Recorded April–May 1981
Studio Music Works Studio, Watford, Hertfordshire, England
Genre
Label Aura
Producer Jean-Marc Philippe Quilichini
Nico chronology
The End...
(1974)The End...1974
Drama of Exile
(1981)
Camera Obscura
(1985)Camera Obscura1985
Alternative cover
Cover as it was used by Cleopatra Records for their 1993 CD release.
Cover as it was used by Cleopatra Records for their 1993 CD release.
The Drama of Exile
Nico TheDramaOfExile.jpg
The original cover used for the release of the re-recorded version.
Studio album by Nico
Released 1982
Recorded May–June 1981
Studio Music Works Studio, Watford, Hertfordshire, England
Genre
Label Invisible Records
Producer Jean-Marc Philippe Quilichini
Nico chronology
The End...
(1974)The End...1974
Drama of Exile
(1981)
Camera Obscura
(1985)Camera Obscura1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars (1981 version)[1]
Rolling Stone generally favorable[2]
Trouser Press unfavorable[3]

Drama of Exile is the fifth studio album by German musician Nico, which was initially released in 1981. A second release followed in 1983. The album's first release was originally recorded in April and May 1981, while the second release, The Drama of Exile, is a re-recording of the first one done that same May. The album featured a Middle Eastern rhythm section and was produced by Corsican bassist Philippe Quilichini. This was Nico's first album to feature no input from frequent collaborator John Cale.

Background[edit]

After the release of The End... in 1974, Nico's partnership with Island Records ended and for the next year, she spent the majority of her time in New York City, without a recording contract.[4] During that time she appeared in a series of Philippe Garrel films.[5]

Nico continued to write new songs and perform intermittently. "Purple Lips," featured in her solo, sets as early as March 1975,[citation needed] and was also performed on French television in April 1975.[citation needed] Its lyrics were recited by Nico, in the Philippe Garrel film, Le Berceau de Cristal (1976). The earliest recorded performance of "Genghis Khan", dates to August 6, 1975, with non-LP "Procession" and "Henry Hudson", featuring in set lists from February 1977.[citation needed]

By March 1978, with "The Sphinx" also introduced into her set, Nico had settled on the title "Drama of Exile", and resolved to try a new style at odds with her previous harmonium-based sound.[citation needed] Nico continued to write, and by early 1981 had enough songs ready to record a new album.[citation needed]

Recording and release[edit]

In 1981 executive producer Nadette Duget, Philippe Quilichini's girlfriend, lived together with Nico at 97C Clarendon Road, (off the Holland Park Road) in London W11. Duget had heroin connections and supported her own mild drug consumption, as well as her partner Quilichini's and Nico's more serious addictions.

Corsican photographer Antoine Giacomoni, who described Quilichini as "his brother" at the time, also lived there with his girlfriend, French actress and beauty queen, Agnès Berthon. Bass players Quilichini and Duget had produced an album in Jamaica in 1977 by the vocal trio The Congos, who had previously issued the classic reggae album "Heart of the Congos" (1977) produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry. Titled "Congo", the follow-up album, which featured Quilichini on bass and Giacomoni as photographer, had been released in 1979 under the CBS France label following a record deal obtained by Duget. They headed to London to produce another record.

Aura Records offered to finance one album which was to be recorded in London, and produced by Philippe Quilichini. Contracts were drawn up, Aura advanced the production costs and recording began almost immediately in April/May 1981. Recorded at Gooseberry Studios in Tulse Hill, London, with a band composed of Quilichini, French-Iranian guitarist and oriental string instruments expert Mahammad Hadi, drummer Steve Cordonna, Ian Dury's sax player Davey Payne, percussionist J. J. Johnson of Wayne County's Electric Chairs and Andy Clark, the keyboard player who previously appeared in David Bowie's "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)" album. Sessions were attended by French journalist Bruno Blum, a friend of J. J. Johnson's who later published the inside story in French rock magazine "Best".

The original album was plagued by suspicious circumstances. There are different versions of the story, and the truth remains ambiguous. With the album nearly finished and following a disagreement over money, Aaron Sixx, the head of Aura at the time, allegedly received a tip-off from the studio that Nadette Duget (Nico's unofficial manager) had arranged to steal the master tapes from the studio and sell them, without reimbursing Aura. However, Sixx had a signed contract with Duget and Quilichini and therefore could injunct any such alleged plans. Nevertheless, Sixx supposedly scuppered those plans by taking possession of all the multitrack, unmixed tapes. A legal battle ensued, which was to last almost 3 years.

Duget claimed Nico had not signed the contract. This turned out to be true, but an agreement was made and Aura had paid out considerable sums in production costs. Ownership of the recordings therefore rested with Aura.

Recording and release of a newly recorded version of the album[edit]

Duget, Quilichini and Giacomoni subsequently moved to a Linden Gardens basement flat in Notting Hill Gate, London. Adding French violin player Thierry Matioszek to the lineup, Nico then recorded a single, the fine "Sãeta/Vegas" also produced by Quilichini, which emerged on the London Flicknife Records label in 1981 and obtained some media attention. Supported by Nico and the musicians, Duget and Quilichini also proceeded to record the entire Drama of Exile album again.

Meanwhile, a mix of the unfinished Drama of Exile album (first version) was released by Aaron Sixx on the Aura Records label in late 1981 (the date is written on the back cover). This was allegedly done without the consent of Nico or the musicians and producers. The album cover was reported to have illegally used an Antoine Giacomoni color photograph. Furthermore, the album also allegedly ot all of the musicians were credited and no mixing engineer name appears on the cover, but Philippe Quilichini was credited as producer.

During the recording a sound engineer stole the unfinished record and sold it to the company Aura which released it immediately. Of course, we sued them. We re-recorded the album but the court trial took forever. I had neither money nor strength to go on. The most commonly sold version of Drama of Exile is unauthorized. We released the original form with Invisible Records but only in a very small edition and so it's more a collector's item.

— Jacques Pasquier[6]

Completed over the summer at Music Works studio in London, the second recording of the album was soon mixed by producer Quilichini and released a few months later on the Paris indie label, Invisible Records. The final album features Matioszek as well as new, fine Giacomoni photographs of Nico, her son Ari and Quilichini on the inner sleeve. According to Bruno Blum's 1982 review, the new version was well mixed and unquestionably superior ("N" black and white cover, a nod to Corsican French emperor Napoleon, who ended his life in forced exile). It also included two extra quality tracks, Sãeta and Vegas.

False stories of the Aura label having released the only official album with Nico's consent, of Quilichini having secretly copied the first version of the album tapes to remix them later emerged:

In 1983, having won the legal battle, Aura proceeded to release the album. P.Q. was angry and, taking no notice of the legal restrictions involved, went back to Paris with some tapes he had secretly copied during recording. He remixed those tapes and had an illegal version of the album released in France. Aura quickly put a stop to this album and it was subsequently withdrawn."

— Dave Thompson, liner notes of Nico-Icon CD

Quilichini and his girlfriend also hatched a plan to steal the tapes in a bid to cheat Aura Records and sell them on to another company. Aaron Sixx managed to rescue them with a last minute dash to the studios, but with their plan thwarted the couple severely delayed the release of the album by trying to take him to court. But with the record finally released and lauded by many critics as her best ever, Nico embarked on the usual round of promotional interviews.

— Fraser Massey, liner notes of Drama of Exile, UK CD edition 1996

"It was all really boring, all that quiet stuff," Nico said of her past albums. "And having been a member of The Velvet Underground, rock 'n' roll is something I have to do at some point, even if only for one album"... [Aura label head Aaron] Sixx admitted that Nico "didn't give a shit what happened to the LP, she just wanted the money for drugs." Yet despite these unconventional circumstances, Drama of Exile would see Nico receive some of the best reviews of her career.

— Dave Thompson, Better to Burn Out: The Cult of Death in Rock 'N' Roll[7]

The re-recorded album was mixed by the original producer Philippe Quilichini and issued on Invisible Records around the spring of 1982 with extra tracks. However, it was not the version that was to remain on the market. Deeply hurt by the legal battle and the fate of his work, Philippe Quilichini sunk in heroin-related problems and died at a young age in 1983. In a state of shock following the death of her long time partner and lover, Nadette Duget left London for good and flew back to Corsica, where she died of anorexia a few months later, thus closing the case and leaving Aaron Sixx in charge of running further releases of the inferior and incomplete first version, with Nico giving in to let him do so[8] in the Netherlands and Sweden only, several months after the debacle with the masters. The original version of the LP was released on CD for the first time in Germany by Line Records in 1988, shortly after Nico died, in the United States by Cleopatra Records in 1993 and in England by Great Expectations Records in 1989. The true, "N" cover, finished album as re-recorded in 1981.

Musical style[edit]

Drama of Exile has been described as "a tentative foray into post-punk".[9] In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, the author writes "Drama of Exile pairs [Nico] with a thin new wave band that wouldn't have sounded out-of-place on, say, Rough Trade."[2] Nico and the album were covered in Dave Thompson's book on gothic rock, The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock.[10]

Track listing[edit]

Drama of Exile (1981)[edit]

All tracks written by Nico, except where noted.

Side A
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Genghis Khan"     3:52
2. "Purple Lips"     4:10
3. "One More Chance"     5:38
4. "Henry Hudson"     3:54
5. "I'm Waiting for the Man" Lou Reed Reed 4:13
Side B
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Sixty/Forty"     4:50
2. "The Sphinx"     3:30
3. "Orly Flight"     3:55
4. "Heroes" David Bowie Bowie, Brian Eno 6:06

The Drama of Exile (1983)[edit]

All tracks written by Nico, except where noted.

Side A
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "One More Chance"     4:13
2. "The Sphinx"     4:00
3. "Sãeta"     3:40
4. "Genghis Khan"     3:34
5. "Heroes" Bowie Bowie, Eno 5:41
Side B
No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Henry Hudson"     3:46
2. "60/40"     4:35
3. "Orly Flight"     2:48
4. "Vegas"     3:30
5. "I'm Waiting for My Man" Reed Reed 4:14

Personnel[edit]

Drama of Exile
  • Muhammad Hadi (Mad Sheer Khan) – lead guitar, fretless bouzouki, snitra, backing vocals, piano
  • Philippe Quilichini – bass, African percussions, rhythm guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals
  • Steve Cordona – drums
  • J. J. Johnson – percussion, trumpet
  • Davey Payne – saxophone
  • Andy Clark – organ, piano, synthesizer
The Drama of Exile

For the remake, the lineup was the same but without Davey Payne, and with additional help from:

  • Thierry Matioszek – electric violin, backing vocals
  • Gary Barnacle – saxophones, drums

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Drama of Exile – Nico | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Brackett, Nathan; David Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon and Schuster. p. 586. ISBN 9780743201698. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Isler, Scott; Robbins, Ira. "TrouserPress.com :: Nico". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved July 5, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Nico". RollingStone.com. 
  5. ^ "Nico". IMDb. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  6. ^ "Interview with Jacques Pasquier". rakosrecords.cz. Archived from the original on March 19, 2008. 
  7. ^ Thompson, David (1998). Better to Burn Out: The Cult of Death in Rock 'N' Roll. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-56025-190-3. 
  8. ^ See this page from a fansite, which displays information of all releases of the original version.
  9. ^ Goddard, Simon (24 April 2012). Mozipedia: The Encyclopaedia of Morrissey and The Smiths. Random House. p. 296. ISBN 9781407028842. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  10. ^ Thompson, Dave (1 November 2002). The Dark Reign of Gothic Rock. Helter Skelter. p. 109. ISBN 9781900924481. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 

External links[edit]