Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Head To Head
Log In
Unsung Forum »
Is Nico the John Barnes of Rock?
Log In to post a reply

100 messages
Topic View: Flat | Threaded
6761 posts

Edited May 23, 2008, 07:37
Re: Is Nico the John Barnes of Rock?
May 23, 2008, 07:08
naughtynige wrote:
We're not talking about whether or not people like those particular albums (and of course I entirely agree people like what they like, horses for courses and all that). Keith says in his original post why is she so revered and what did she do after the first Velvets LP? That's what I was responding to. Those 3 albums (Marble Index, Desertshore & The End) are about the most convincing case you could offer. As a body of work they are some of the most compelling and daring pieces of music released under the "popular music" banner in the early to mid 70s. That is why she is so revered, not for a tossed off cover which has a miniscule bearing on her overall recorded output. Ian, I hear what you're saying about John Cale's input and I think you're right. As for his solo career, I've been disappointed at how unsatisfying the albums have been - there is so much pedestrian singer-songwriter guff.
To address some of the other arguments taking place in this thread - for your average Head To Head'er those 3 Nico albums are melodically pretty accessible and this knee-jerk attacking of music which is considered difficult by some really should cease. As should the retaliation against people who don't necessarily like that kind of music. The reason we're all on this forum is surely to rejoice in all forms of great music and to be enlightened about more of the stuff by others. I've noticed some particularly mean streaks creeping in to this forum lately, I fuckin' love a debate but there's no need for insulting people as part of that.
So there.

With you all the way there.

It's a not uncommon Art Rock attitude that music that is accessible is pap and that something that defies traditional melody / harmony / song structure is instantly more important. Then, if you don't "get it", the inference is you must be some kind of dolt or throw-back. Is "Venus In Furs" really more valuable or important than "Track Of My Tears" or "It's My Party"?

Anyway Cale had a golden run and then seemed to be making records for what he imagined his audience to be rather than for himself. Still, even genius producers have to eat and he wasn't exactly flavour de jour in the 80s. Correct me if I am wrong but I think Squeeze was his last commercial project as a producer in that era.

I suspect that at least in terms of the current generation of rock critics Nico is revered by people who have not really listened to her records. She is seen as an icon of the other, high Art, non-hippie, side of the 60s.

Once something becomes iconic it doesn't really matter how people relate to the actual music. And that first VU record is nothing if not iconic. She is enshrined as bona fide alternative star for ever and ever. The anti-Joni if you like. The smacked up Julie Christie. And the fact that her voice is kind of difficult just makes it more appealingly out there for those critics who are worried by conformist structures.

Just to illustrate - Nico's biggest selling album in the US on CD is Chelsea Girl (having sold less than 70,000 - about the same as Trout Mask) none of the other have done much more than 10,000.

The First VU record is on a whopping 360,000. Which is pretty great given that Lou's new releases barely making it into five figures these days. Horses, Marquee Moon and the first Ramones albums combined have not sold that many.

Nothing wrong for being famous for being in the right place at the right time but with Nico it's not her own music that makes her an icon.
Topic Outline:

Unsung Forum Index