Nico: Drama of Exile LP (1981)
A year or so ago I was listening to Henry Rollins’ radio show on KCRW and he played “Genghis Khan,” the opening track from Drama of Exile, and it just blew me away. I’d heard some of Nico’s other solo material in passing and I know the Velvet Underground pretty well, but “Genghis Khan” was something else. The chirping synths and tinny production reminded me of Bowie’s Berlin period, and Drama of Exile even features a cover of “Heroes.” However, Drama of Exile came out in 1981, a few years after Bowie had moved on from Berlin. Anyway, after hearing Rollins play “Genghis Khan” I looked up the album on streaming services and returned to it repeatedly over the next several months, and eventually I added it to my want list.
It took a long time to track down a reasonably priced copy because Drama of Exile never came out in the US, and COVID-19 has made me wary of ordering records internationally. A few weeks ago a copy popped up in the US, though, and I couldn’t pull the trigger fast enough. I’ve listened to it several times over the past few weeks, and I’ve only come to love it more. While I could deal without the covers (particularly “I’m Waiting for the Man”), the rest of the LP is brilliant. If you’re a fan of Bowie’s Berlin albums or Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life and The Idiot, there’s a strong chance you’ll agree.
Since getting into Drama of Exile I’ve also checked out Chelsea Girl and that’s great too, though the vibe is different. I think I need to check out The Marble Index and The End, though I’m open to other recommendations if anyone has any. Oh, and I’ve also just now discovered that there’s an entire alternate recording of Drama of Exile that sounds totally different. It never ends!