All Tomorrow's Parties

by: Nico

Examining Nico's solo career is at once a fascinating and frustrating experience; while she made a handful of truly compelling albums following her short tenure with the Velvet Underground, after 1974's The End most of her discography is a puzzling morass of dodgy live albums, half-baked studio sessions, and cobbled-together collections. All Tomorrow's Parties is a patchwork effort that falls squarely into the third category; the bulk of the album is drawn from an April 11, 1986, concert in Tokyo that has already seen release on the imaginatively titled Live in Tokyo. As such things go, it captures Nico in strong form; her voice is in good shape, her performance is committed, and her band sounds simpatico, and though this isn't the best place to hear her sing either "Femme Fatale" or "Janitor of Lunacy," it certainly stacks up as one of the better live recordings of Nico from the 1980s. Tacked on for no easily explained reason are four studio tracks -- both sides of a single of "Vegas" and "Saeta," and two versions of "All Tomorrow's Parties" recorded with a group that is obviously not the Velvet Underground (but trying desperately hard to fool listeners), with Nico's vocals apparently grafted on from her a cappella performance of the song from the Tokyo concert. (This package offers no credits for musicians or producers, and while it gives the recording date for the Tokyo concert, there's not a shred of information about the studio material, making this package all the more puzzling.) Rounding out the set is a truly nonessential remix of "All Tomorrow's Parties" from the Norwegian industrial act Apoptygma Berzerk. All Tomorrow's Parties is a odd little collection that places worthwhile material besides stuff with little reason to exist, and it further tarnishes the legacy of an artist whose body of work already suffers from a spotty reputation; a shame, since a quality reissue of the Tokyo concert would be quite welcome. ~ Mark Deming

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