Chelsea Girl (1967) is the debut album by German singer and model, Nico. Many fans may know Nico for her namesake and contributions to The Velvet Underground’s debut a few months earlier, The Velvet Underground and Nico. With connections to Andy Warhol and the New York City art scene, one should know that this won’t be your average singer-songwriter record. The first two tracks, The Fairest of the Seasons and These Days, along with Somewhere There’s a Feather, which appears later on in the track listing, are penned by a young Jackson Browne, who lends his electric guitar playing to the songs, as well. Immediately noticeable is the sound of an orchestra backing the subtle guitar work on the songs. These Days, in particular, is as lush a melody as you will come across, laying claim to the stylings of what would become known as chamber pop. Imagine Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right being supplemented by strings, which is what this song sounds like. Nico actually covers a previously unreleased Dylan track, I’ll Keep It With Mine, a few songs later. The rest of the tracks, save for one, are written by an assortment of Lou Reed, John Cale, and Sterling Morrison from The Velvet Underground. The only non Jackson Browne or Velvet Underground related song is the final track on the album, Eulogy to Lenny Bruce, written by Tim Hardin, who would appear at Woodstock two years later. With all the playing and almost all of the writing being done by Jackson Browne and The Velvet Underground, Nico’s voice blends well among traditional (Jackson Browne) and experimental (The Velvet Underground) stylings. It’s one of the weirder combinations of artists on record, with Jackson Browne and The Velvet Underground being on opposite ends of the musical spectrum, but their songwriting and playing balances each other out, surprisingly. If you haven’t listened, check it out, for none other than the unique mix of names it beholds.
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