Pleasure Then

For discussion of all aspects of the New York legends.
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Sheila Klein
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Pleasure Then

Post by Sheila Klein » 09 May 2020 04:04

I've long regarded Nico's debut Chelsea Girl album as, in essence, half a VU album. Of the VU-involved cuts, "It Was A Pleasure Then" is the best, and the most VUish.

What I wonder is who is behind the high, wordless vocal that weaves in and out throughout the piece. It's well above Nico's normal register, yet I can't imagine who else it could be. Any thoughts?

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bleach
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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by bleach » 09 May 2020 11:52

Could it be Laura Nyro? She was a Verve artist 66/7, lived in Manhattan and had an impressive voice - Wiki says she had a 3-octave mezzo-soprano vocal range. She was at the start of her career when Nico recorded it, often happens that younger artists appear uncredited on the same record label productions.

Another link is Jackson Browne - he went out with both Nico and Nyro...

peppergomez
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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by peppergomez » 10 May 2020 00:12

It's Nico, who else would it be, and I don't think any of us can say what Nico's vocal range was or wasn't.

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Sheila Klein
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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by Sheila Klein » 10 May 2020 00:52

It's not as if there's very little evidence to judge that by. Jackson Browne and Laura Nyro are very plausible candidates.

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Mark
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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by Mark » 10 May 2020 12:09

I don't think it's totally out of the question that it's Nico singing falsetto. She didn't tend to do that, but that doesn't necessarily mean she couldn't.

On the other hand, it does swing up *very* high at times which suggests that it's someone who has a lot of strength in that range. The Laura Nyro theory is interesting, although it's a long way from the cute pop stuff she was mostly recording at that time.

Is anyone still alive who might know? Cale?
8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1

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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by threechordwonder » 10 May 2020 15:30

Mark wrote:
10 May 2020 12:09
Is anyone still alive who might know? Cale?
Maybe someone from this tribute show?
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2875979

It's gone now so we missed it ...

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Sheila Klein
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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by Sheila Klein » 10 May 2020 21:17

I don't think it's totally out of the question that it's Nico singing falsetto. She didn't tend to do that, but that doesn't necessarily mean she couldn't.
It is often argued that women do not have the capability of a falsetto register. I am pretty sure that they do, but that is in contradiction to many experts. See this article for more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsetto#Female_falsetto

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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by threechordwonder » 11 May 2020 19:24

I don't think the weaving voice is actually falsetto, more likely a soprano vocalisation (and the way it rises and falls reminds me of Allegri's "Miserere me, Deus" although the two pieces are worlds apart). All that technical information about voice types in the link has given rise to a truly awful "joke" (so I'll add it to the joke thread but please blame Phil).

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mangue
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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by mangue » 15 May 2020 18:34

From the booklet "VU & Nico - 45th Anniversary Edition":

Credited to Reed, Cale, and Nico, the eight-minute "It Was a Pleasure Then" is the one Chelsea Girl track that could pass for a Velvet Underground recording. The rumbling and squawking guitars are distinctly Velvetian, providing the sole backing for Nico's vocals. The lyrics look back on pleasurable times with not so much a nostalgic glow as a gloomy fervor, Nico alternating between stoic passion and siren-like scatting. Reed later confirmed* that he, Cale, and Nico were the sole musicians on the track, also suggesting the song evolved from the droning improvisations the Velvets performed live, perhaps with pieces like "Melody Laughter" and "The Nothing Song" in mind, as those also featured some wordless Nico singing/moaning. "We'd been doing a song like that in our beloved show, it didn't really have a title," Lou told Creem. "Just all of us following the drone. And there it sits in the middle of that album."

*does anybody know when/where? may be in the Creem interview mentioned later?

Now don't have time to check vocals on ML and TNS, but will do so later.

PS: really love "Pleasure Then" and to me the high "vocals" always sounded being Nico's

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Re: Pleasure Then

Post by threechordwonder » 15 May 2020 20:53

mangue wrote:
15 May 2020 18:34
From the booklet "VU & Nico - 45th Anniversary Edition":

The rumbling and squawking guitars are distinctly Velvetian, providing the sole backing for Nico's vocals.
Surely Cale's viola lends its voice to the drone ... does anyone else hear it? But that's a good find mangue.

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