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Tony ViscontiToni Visconti
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 spit-and-polish.

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

Marc BolanInevitably, 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.”
Andy Basire

Born To Boogie is out now on Sanctuary, David Live and Stage (both EMI) are also available now

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