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Articles: Review of NICO (from inkpot.com)

Review of Nico

By Grace Chia (Grace "Don't Call Me Dharma Child" Chia is an avid cat-lover and expert rock-climber. She dreams of one day covering the pillars of the Parliament House with poetry).


The sudden death of Blind Melon's vocalist Shannon Hoon reminds me of the sudden death of River Phoenix. They both died young. They bothdied of substance overdose. They both died in their prime. And they left behind an echo ceaselessly bouncing off the walls of the vacuum of our eyes.

   In Shannon's eyes, his daughter was as lovely as his favourite flower, the Nico Blue. She was his flower child, his own Nico Blue, all thirteen and a half weeks old when he departed from her and left for the heavens to sing for the angels. That was what Shannon's mother consoled herself with, that her son left the good earth because God needed him to sing for the angels. And this album is what Nico needs to remember her father by, and this album is what she needs to pay her future school fees with. And if Shannon had been around when this album was produced, he might have sobered up fast enough for rehab, because this album supports MAP - Musicians Assistance Program - a program to help musicians recover from drug and alchohol abuse. Shannon Hoon had died of cocaine overdose on October 23, 1995 at the age of 28.

    Forget about the Bee Girl. So she was cute, so she became a metaphor for living on the margins, so what? Forget about "No Rain." Any grogged-out Blind Melon tuned-in listener will tell you that no other song on the first album, BLIND MELON, sounds like that. Maybe that's why the "Ripped Away Version" of "No Rain" on this album is penultimate cool - a drugged-out, tuned-in, sexed-up version of the original. Somehow, Alice Coltrane's far-out mysticism and psychedelic, spiritual experimentation comes to mind. Buncha long-haired Beatniks jammin' a scam eh?

    "Soup" is the name of the second album, and also the name of a song on this album (although the song never appeared on the second album). With the kind of melody and plaintive vocals that Shannon and the band are memorable for, "Soup" gives one a sense of nostalgic piquancy. In contrast, the song "Glitch" pounds with a heavy tribal rhythm with the use of congas and filtered with the lightness of flutes. Violence mingled with the blood of paganism overbrimming, a ritual song for a very bad trip. It may be perverse pleasure on my part, but I drink this bloody song down my dry soul. "Glitch" is raw, and awfully potent.

   Unlike Nick Drake, who sings in a creepily depressing manner that is self-reflexive of his sucide, Shannon sings with a loose jauntiness that can make one forget that he is so dead he will not sing ever again. The eerie "Letters From a Porcupine" was transferred to a DAT from a recorded ditty-message that Shannon left on the answering machine of Christopher Thorn, one of the guitarists in the band. The song, with its terrible lo-fi quality, makes Shannon's voice sound recent and living. A little ditty as a little present in a little song by a little crazy Shannon. And the machine beeps with a killer "DOOP" at the end.

   NICO has been released as an Enhanced CD album which includes bonus multi-media tracks. There are short clips from interviews, concert footage, videos, song excerpts and a completely naked Shannon leaping around in one segment. There is also the entire Chris Heath article from DETAILS magazine (July '96) about Shannon's death. It is a moving encapsulation to the mad one, who to quote from Keruoac's novel ON THE ROAD, was "mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time," the one who burned "like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."


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