Alternative music legend Chris Connelly has announced he will be releasing a long-player paying tribute to the iconic Nico. Originally planned as 10 tracks featuring Connelly’s versions of her songs, once recorded, he decided to write a parallel album of his own compositions, spanning the life of one of the most unique, tragic and misunderstood female artists in the history of music.
The result is the 24-track ‘Eulogy to Christa: A Tribute to the Music & Mystique of Nico’, to be released in late autumn.
Ahead of this, the Chicago-based Scottish counter-culture artist presents the album’s first single ‘Eulogy to Lenny Bruce’, heralded by some as Connelly’s finest vocal performance. Appearing on Nico’s 1967 album ‘Chelsea Girl’, this song was penned by the tragic Tim Hardin about the equally tragic Lenny Bruce with the lyrics slightly altered, Nico describing her sorrow and anger at Bruce’s death.
Connelly once again worked with producer and long-time Connelly collaborator Chris Bruce, a band member of Meshell Ndegeocello, who has also worked with Seal, Aaron Neville, Bob Dylan, The Waterboys, My Brightest Diamond, Cheryl Crow and Sam Phillips.
‘Eulogy to Christa’ sees Connelly purposefully adopting the personas of Nico, Lou Reed and John Cale – even Andy Warhol makes a cameo!
Connelly speaks of these early influences: “I was not a stranger to her music, I had been playing The Velvet Underground & Nico to death for about a year, but knew nothing of her solo work until Cosey Fanni Tutti played me ‘Desertshore’ whilst I was visiting her in London in the summer of 1980… Nico’s output was spartan, at that age, I didn’t know why, but I was drawn in deep to the myth, as well as the myth of Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground and the concentric rings of influence in their wake, like so many musicians.”
The album was inspired by the brilliant book ‘You Are Beautiful and Your Are Alone’ by author Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke, who contributed to the liner notes for the album. She writes, “This is a record to be played at full blast, all the way through, as a commemoration not just to Nico the person, the musician, but to art for art’s sake, for making something because it is important and needs to be done – an idea that is as rare and precious as Nico herself.”
Even the photos of Nico featured in the album artwork have particular significance: the cover shot was taken by author Alastair MacKay from the audience at the Nite Club in Edinburgh in 1981, where a 15-year-old Connelly was also in attendance. The inside photo of Nico was taken in 1982 by Chicago photography legend Howard Goldblatt.
The Nico material spans from her first Jimmy Page-composed single B-side through her time with The Velvet Underground, to her intense and unique solo recordings up until her death. In song, Connelly follows her from Berlin to New York via Paris, Ibiza, and Rome, then back through Paris, London, Edinburgh, Manchester and up to her tragic and needless death in Ibiza.
This is a labour of love, empathy, sadness, acting and channeling, along with Chris’s adoration of the dark corner of rock inhabited by the Velvets and their peers.
Chris Connelly’s creations span almost forty years. Since early days with Fini Tribe in his native Edinburgh, Connelly has over twenty solo releases. He frequently collaborates with other musicians, building on notable projects with Ministry, The Revolting Cocks and Pigface and contributing to newer ones such as Cocksure and The Joy Thieves. He has also published four books, encompassing poetry, autobiography, and fictional narrative.
As of September 12, ‘Eulogy to Lenny Bruce’ will be available across digital music platforms, including . The full ‘Eulogy to Christa’ album’ will be released digitally on November 11 by Shipwrecked Industries in the USA andcan already be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.. The physical release will happen on December 4 via the same label and also Easy Action in the UK.
To celebrate the release of ‘Eulogy to Christa’, Connelly will perform tracks from the album with the help of Matt Walker, Carolyn Engelmann and other members of Sons of the Silent Age. Scheduled for Thursday, November 10 at Gman Tavern in Chicago.
Listen to the new single here: