Live in Tokyo

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There are more live records of Nico performing in the 1980s than there should be, with inevitable over-repetition of some of the same songs from concert to concert. Should Live in Tokyo be one of the one or two such discs Nico fans want in their collection, though, it's not a bad one to have. According to the liner notes by Nico biographer Dick Witts, it could be the last Nico concert to have been issued on CD, recorded in Tokyo on April 11, 1986, just a couple of years before her death. The sound quality is reasonable (though not outstanding), and despite her well-founded reputation as a heavy substance abuser, her voice and performance are pretty reasonable as well. At times the songs are over-arranged, as on the thudding near-disco drumbeat of "My Heart Is Empty" and the cold synth-goth ambience of "Purple Lips." On some other tracks, though, a sparse backup (sometimes dominated by Nico's own harmonium) suits the mood better. Some of her old standbys are here, of course -- "Janitor of Lunacy," "My Funny Valentine," a cover of the Doors' "The End," and the Velvet Underground warhorses "All Tomorrow's Parties" (done entirely a cappella) and "Femme Fatale." There are a good number of less familiar items too, including a few from her final albums, like "Das Lied Vom Einsamen Mädchen."

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