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Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio Paperback – July 27, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (July 27, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747544115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747544111
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I became aware of this book through Young's appearance in the "Nico Icon" documentary.
The Sphinx
A vaguely ambitious and obscure producer named Dr. Demetrius lines up a tour for her and pulls together a band to back her up.
Yggs
This book is a masterpiece of both style and content, and one of the very best rock biographies in existence.
Pieter Uys

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Yggs on December 23, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't remember where I first read a few excerpts from this book, but I remember being pretty irate I didn't have the full text in front of me at the time. Years later, after bad breakups, fires, towers falling down around me, I finally stumbled across Songs They Never Play On The Radio again, devoured it like a starved cannibal on the tundra. This book is so much wider in its scope than the blurbs on the back make it out to be, primarily in its oblique commentaries on European political history, and the valuation of Art.

The book is a biographical snippet of singer/songwriter Nico's last years and tours. At the beginning she is living in Manchester, England, addicted to heroin and passing her days getting high and drowsing in the shadows. A vaguely ambitious and obscure producer named Dr. Demetrius lines up a tour for her and pulls together a band to back her up. James Young, the author, is the keyboard player for this band.

The ensuing narrative is what they call in MFA programs "creative non-fiction." (Yes, MFA programs ARE annoying, but sometimes pull-out the useful term or two). Anyway, it reads like a novel, imitates actual events, and doesn't change the names like in a roman-a-clef. Fortunately, Young lets his camera jump cut from scene to scene, across time, countries and continents, to land right where the action demands. We get portraits of the band--Echo, a mixture of sullen, backsliding pater familia and post-punk rock bassist... oh, and throw in junkie to boot. We get a variety of drummers--from an industrial junk-percussion virtuoso to a totem-wearing pretty-boy tabla diva to a hair-metal sorta-be. We get a lead guitarist desperate to meet Bob Dylan.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a masterpiece of both style and content, and one of the very best rock biographies in existence. It explores the life of Nico after the Velvet Underground, covering her life in London and tours in Europe and the USA.

I found myself devouring the text in utter fascination. It includes descriptions of bizarre performances, wild parties, weird tour experiences, eccentric characters like her one-time manager Dr Demetrius, encounters with luminaries like John Cale, a visit to the motel where Tom Waits used to stay and much much more.

One of the funniest parts is the narrative of Nico's first experience with angel dust in Los Angeles. Underneath the humor there is a lot of sadness too but it is a strangely inspiring read. Songs They Never Play On The Radio certainly transcends the genre of rock writing. You don't have to be a fan of Velvet Underground to enjoy this classic work, as it stands on its own feet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew C. Mertha on November 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book did more to make Nico a human being, albeit a deeply flawed one, than anything else about her I have seen or heard. It is full of great characters and excruciating situations that have as much laughs as the best Hunter S. Thomson, and as much heart, too. Best rock n roll bio I have read yet...
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By The Sphinx on November 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
I became aware of this book through Young's appearance in the "Nico Icon" documentary. The book is well-written, dry and dark but not without compassion.
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By Laura B. Morrick Dunlap on August 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A "Must Read" documentary! A book that I just didn't want to end..... Not only informative to myself re the Velvet Underground & the talent involved, Nick and James and the characters the self-absorbed Dr. D included in the "Nico World Tour", supposedly to bring her music back to life & of course, to bring himself some $, are both sad, desperate and hilariously (dry humor/my style) funny! This is a book I will re-read, as I do many of my favourites, which Nick is now included within!
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