Nico – Desertshore
Its rarely a good omen that you turn up at a friends place on a Saturday afternoon to get leathered and they announce bravely they have just got to finish putting some ‘things’ on Ebay. Unless, they used to work at the Notting Hill Music & Video Exchange and the only thing they like more than the weirdest music in the world is getting leathered, and youve got cash on the hip.
Now I hate to see a brother on the ribs and would never take advantage of a situation like this plus I was pretty thirsty. So after 45 minutes of being bedazzled, tempted, shocked, speechless and at times pretty embarrassed at the gaps in my knowledge of this obviously rare original vinyl he had to trade (and that I would probably never, ever, see again) lets just say some dirty pictures of the queen changed hands.
The next morning I awoke clutching a copy of Desertshore and a receipt for a 30 mini cab.
I had already ruined a cd version many moons ago so was eager to get reacquainted with Nicos ultimate offering. From the get go Nico has her stall set out and she aint going anywhere. After the post-Velvets Chelsea Girl and 1970s Marble Index (which lets face it is no walk in the park) Nico has settled into a strange cold war droney locked groove. Lots of people describe this record as avant-garde and neo-classical goth (whatever that really means) but to your humble narrator it just sounds like shes finally settled at home. That is if home is a strange self-created musical interzone; featuring, her ever faithful harmonium, cold war weirdness, Moroccan pipes, feedback and stark piano layered with her own deep voice.
It could be just me but the cover photo, a still from La Cicatrice Interieure (by ex-squeeze Philippe Garrel) of her highness sitting side-saddle on a white horse being led by her son says it all. What with the all the baggage shes carrying (Fellini, humililated by Reed in the Velvets, affairs with Iggy, Morrison, Brian Jones amongst others, dropped by Elektra, left holding the baby by Delon etc..) its a miracle the horse looks so photogenic.
It would be pointless for me to describe this lp song by song as it just all seems to bleed together. John Cale is at the controls once again seemingly the only person capable of getting Nico and filling in the gaps, which he seems to have done since the VU. Sure, at its worse its the soundtrack to an existential daydream, but who hasnt had one of those recently and who more importantly who cares? At its best, when Nico sings you are beautiful and you are alone you realise that she is not singing for herself, not you the listener but for everything. Everything is everything. This record was criminally overlooked at the time by 70s rock journalists, but will be listened to forever.
Its Nicos world – you are just listening to it.
P.S.- I saw lots of Nico 7 singles in Rough Trade on Friday. There may be some left.