Another Dark Night [no label 1CD pinkrobert 418]
Live at Studentski Kultural Centaar, Belgrade, Serbia, Yugoslavia, Mar 29, 1987. Ex SBD stereo

The last half-decade of {$Nico}’s life was spent in perpetual motion, touring more than she ever had in the past, with a bewildering variety of sidemen. Likewise, the live albums (official and otherwise) that document this period serve up a confusing portrait of a legend truly slipping into a half-life twilight. It is no secret (at least according to her biographies) that her touring was undertaken solely to fuel her drug habit, and the quality of some of the shows definitely feeds that allegation.

Another Dark Night was recorded, appropriately, during one of her darkest periods. Just a month earlier, at London’s Brixton Ace, her under-rehearsed tribute to the recently deceased Andy Warhol was beyond an embarrassment, and reports from the European tour that followed did not paint a much prettier picture. But, if you bend your ears past the drop-outs and occasional distortion that mar this recording, both Nico and the band are in fine form, a clattering, atmosphere-laden soundscape over which Nico - though occasionally out of tune and time - intones her contrarily timeless madrigals. In fact, if one could somehow mix a defiantly squawking saxophone out of sight, it would be a superb show.

But one cannot overlook the weakness in her voice, and a definite sense of weariness, as though the futility of simply grinding around the continent with a never-changing clutch of songs, was finally taking its toll. What Nico needed now was time to recharge her batteries and realign her vision, and the chance to make an excellent album with a sympathetic producer. Instead... 15 months after this show, she was dead. - Dave Thompson

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