NICK NICELY – Psychotropia

If Nick Nicely is remembered for anything it is his acid-drenched 1982 single ‘Hilly Fields (1892)’, which crept out on EMI with minimal publicity. On first hearing you would be forgiven for thinking that it was an undiscovered gem from the Deram vaults of the late 60’s, but it had actually taken Nicely two years to record, such was his perfectionism. The equally good B-side ‘49 Cigars’ was knocked up spontaneously in the studio, but sounds just as inspired, and until this album that was all that was known of the mysterious Mr Nicely. It actually turns out that he had been recording two years earlier, although the outcome of these sessions was very much 80’s electro-pop. It was good electro-pop, though, and one of his tracks was even scheduled for inclusion on the ‘Some Bizarre’ compilation until Stevo decided against it. After the release and relative commercial failure of the single Nicely withdew from music, discarding the few recodings he had made. Now we can hear all of his output on one album, and while the synth drums and electro-pop might have dated somewhat there is more than enough on here to show that ‘Hilly Fields’ was not a fluke. As a footnote, rumour has it that the it was ‘Hilly Fields’ which inspired Andy Partridge to mutate XTC into the spoof psyche band Dukes Of Stratosphear, for which we must all be grateful, as their ‘25 O’Clock’ album was a masterpiece of the genre. The vinyl version is now sold out, but the CD is worth checking out for fans of Depeche Mode\Soft Cell\Blancmange\Visage etc, not least because it contains the title track of the album which is missing from the vinyl, and which is apparently the best thing that Nicely ever did.