Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Nico

  • Desertshore [Reprise, 1970] C
  • The End [Island, 1974] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Desertshore [Reprise, 1970]
The Velvet Underground and Nico plus Chelsea Girl convinced me that Nico had charisma; The Marble Index plus Desertshore convince me that she's a fool. The difference is that now Nico writes the songs--songs with titles like "The Falconer" and "Abschied," songs that indulge her doleful monotone instead of playing rhythms and tempos against it. Nothing new here--bohemian hangers-on always get to publish their work while the less socially adept ("charismatic") are shafted. John Cale, with his "spare" arrangements, plays patron. C

The End [Island, 1974]
I don't know vy she's moaning about unved virgins and vether to betray her hate, and I don't vant to know. The Manzanera-Eno-Cale settings, which I believe is what one calls this sort of elevated sound effect, are suitably morbid and exotic. But funereal irony aside, her parlay of the Doors' "The End" and the Fuehrer's "Das Lied Der Deutschens" contextualizes both tunes more pejoratively than is intended. Nico is what happens when the bloodless wager their minds on the wisdom of the blood and the suicidal make something of their lives. If this be romanticism, give me Matthew Arnold--and gimme shelter. C

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