German singer Nico’s reputation was built upon a foundation of dark lyrics and haunting melodies delivered in an icy manner by a statuesque junkie with a thousand yard stare that could rival Medusa. Musicians came and went; John Cale was her most consistent collaborator and arranger, but in actuality, all she needed was her voice and harmonium. Dead since 1988, her reputation has only grown in recent years, and these long-circulated radio sessions recorded for John Peel in 1971 capture the Nordic goddess in her prime. All four songs are simply her with her harmonium, but that’s all she really needed. The sounds it produces can range from the haunting, disturbing drone of “Janitor Of Lunacy,” a luminous beacon from the afterlife on “Frozen Warnings,” while being downright hypnotic on “Secret Side” and “No One Is There.” BBC Session 1971 is Nico in her prime, a handy “greatest hits” for an artist who defied—and still defies—all classification.
BBC Session 1971 is available now via Gearbox Records
Categories: Album Reviews