Amid the sheer quantity of "live in the 1980s"-style Nico live albums that commenced raining down in the early '80s, and which have barely abated in the years since her death, few stand out as being more (or less) valuable than any other. Inasmuch as it captures an entire concert, Behind the Iron Curtain is one of the few exceptions, a classy recording of a late-1985 show in Warsaw, Poland, as she toured on the back of Camera Obscura. Backed by the ever-faithful Faction band, the show was played out before an audience of almost unbecoming politeness -- keyboard player James Young, recalling the event in his The End memoir, described the onlookers as "serious and subdued...I think the problem was that, for once, Nico was out-doomed." As the album title notes, Poland still lay behind the Iron Curtain at that time, a land where audience participation was seriously discouraged. Young wrote that the "performance was as reserved as the seating," but that is to the album's advantage. With a live set that ranges throughout Nico's career, from old road warriors like "Femme Fatale" and "All Tomorrow's Parties" to new additions "My Funny Valentine" and "Das Lied Vom Einsamen Madchen," the playing is precise and Nico is in excellent voice. "The End" is as chilling as it always should be (but, all too often on live recordings, isn't), and the version of "Janitor of Lunacy" has an edge that still sends shivers down the spine. And what more could you want from a Nico album?
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
feat: James Young