Surrounded by Bowie and Bolan
While the Thin White Duke continues
to recuperate after last year’s emergency heart surgery, and the T Rex movie
Born To Boogie finally get's the DVD treatment Tony Visconti has returned to
his back catalogue (for it is his as much as theirs) to add a contemporary
After the lavish reissues
of ‘70s concert sets Stage and David Live, Visconti is turning his attention to
1975’s soul-influenced Young Americans and promises that the remaster, due for
release in late spring, will be a true bonanza for Bowie fans: “There will be
5.1 surround and stereo mixes, and we’ve unearthed a lot of extra tracks, too.
It’s going to be a real collector’s edition.”
Currently in Denmark
to produce the Floyd-influenced Kashmir, Visconti – whose other Bowie credits
include Heroes and 2002’s return to form, Heathen – remains ferociously busy
after nearly 35 years in the business. His eclectic tastes and engagement with
new music even led him to an unlikely partnership with Manic Street Preachers
for four tracks of their recent album, Lifeblood, although Visconti admits that
he wasn’t entirely satisifed with the end-result: “They were very interesting
people to work with, and in fact I would have liked to produce the whole album.
But I think they ran into budgetary and scheduling problems. The result is that
the record is kind of patchy, in my opinion.”
Born To Boogie
Visconti faces constant reminders of his illustrious past while continuing to
work with new acts, but he was more than happy to revisit his partnership with
Marc Bolan for a recent DVD reissue of the glam-rock star’s Born To Boogie film.
Having languished in relative obscurity on video for many years, the new double-disc
set contains a restored version of the original film – featuring incendiary in-concert
performances of many of his keynote songs – and a host of additional material.
“I think that everyone would like to be involved with a movie,
and this was our first chance to get it right,” recalls Visconti of the 1972 project.
“In many ways, it’s actually a very courageous film.”
Coinciding with the recent reappraisal of Bolan’s work, the restoration project has
also served to remind Visconti of rather more, well, innocent times.
“We really were there right at the beginning [of live shows as big business].
You consider that U2 now go out with 65 people backstage – T Rex had two! But we
were doing as much as we could with the resources we had.”
Unlike his hugely influential production work for Bolan (T Rex albums suffered
terribly in comparison to Electric Warrior and Slider after Visconti's departure),
Visconti’s work with Bowie, for which he is probably even more fêted, is ongoing
and the producer hints that another collaboration could well be in the offing.
“David’s taking time off at the moment to think about what to do next and recover
his health,” says Visconti. “He’s keeping a low profile, but I speak to him
regularly and he’s in good condition.”
Born To Boogie
is out now on Sanctuary, David Live and Stage (both EMI) are also available now