Tony Visconti the Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy (Anglais) Broché – 3 septembre 2007
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Anyway, let's get to the book.
The first part is a fast paced and exhilarating read, taking you through Mr. V's early years as a musician who took his art very seriously. Even as a youngster he wanted to learn properly, and mastered various instruments as well as learning music theory (which would be come invaluable in his studio days). He takes us around mid20th C Italian Brooklyn, with it's Mob elements and colourful characters. This part of the book is almost novel-ish. You can tell, from the first few pages that you're in for a real adventure.
I'll need to skip a little now (or we'll be here for ages) suffice to say that Mr. V eventually discovered that while playing musical instruments would always be part of his life, is was producing music and making records that was his real passion.
The next part of the book tells the tense and humourous tale of his move to the UK in an attempt to discover the British sound and the British method of record making.
Of course, we eventually meet the man who was to change Mr.V's life - a certain Marc Bolan. Now I must confess that I've never `got' Bolan in the way that I've `got' Bowie (or Zappa, Prince, Kate Bush or other music heroes of mine). However I loved reading his story as described by Visconti, painful though it was. Clearly the two were close and respected each other enormously. But (also clearly) Bolan suffered from `Rock Star Grandiosity' and at times acted quite selfishly and thoughtlessly toward Visconti (and others), not least by failing to credit him in Album sleeves for all his extra work.
A couple of Amazon reviewers have criticised Mr. V for discussing Bolan's egotistical ways and for trying to take credit for more than they think he should. But they have failed to recognise two different aspects of the situation:
1) The huge contribution Visconti made to the music itself in terms of string arrangements etc. and the Wizardry that occurred behind the glass. One critical said that producers just `twiddle a few knobs.' What a jerk! If that's the case why are the top record producers so sought after by the best musicians?
2) The fact that under all the obvious hurt and disappointment there's a deep brotherly love oozing out towards Bolan - you can sometimes taste it. In fact I wouldn't mind betting that, all these decades later, the man still occasionally weeps over the loss of his friend. Yes Mr. Visconti cared deeply for a man who was a friend, a brother and most certainly a wasted genius.
The Bowie part of the story is equally captivating. I was amazed when I discovered that the throbbing bass I've always loved in The Man Who Sold the World was Visconti's. Again we see the meeting of a man who would become a crucial part of this legendary producer's life. And occasionally `the shutters are lifted an inch' on a truly intimate and beautiful relationship between artist and producer. For example there's a lovely moment when Visconti, jaded by a long flight and sorrowful because of problems with his marriage, snaps at Bowie. Later on he hears a knock at the door and expects to be fired and sent home. But Bowie holds him by the shoulders, looks into his eyes and askes with genuine concern, `What's wrong Tony?' And he falls into his arms and sobs, letting out the story to his caring friend. Beautiful.
Darn, I'm going on too long. So just a few more points:
Visconti's family life runs through the book like a golden thread. While he has loved and lost various women, his children quite obviously mean everything to him. He probably wishes that he'd been able to spend more time with them while growing up, but you can feel the warmth between them. He's a very proud father.
The book has its spiritual moments too. Visconti has nurtured a long term passion for the East and various martial arts. He also followed Tibetan Buddhism, and there are various glimpses into the psychic / paranormal side of things. It must be stressed though, that while he has a clear spirituality, he has no time for organised religion.
There's lots of drug taking through the book, but also many sensible warnings about drugs. At one point he delivers the myth busting statement that drugs and the studio don't mix.
Bowie's first wife Angela's place in the story as unofficial manager is mentioned warmly (a fact often missed out in the documentaries we see).
There's a wonderful story about the time when John Lennon arrived to do some work on Young Americans and a truly priceless insight into the relationship between him and `Macca.' I won't tell what Lennon said here but, ****, it's hilarious.
All in all this is a book that kept me fascinated and entertained and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all who have any interest in the story behind any of these characters.
However Bowie, Bolan and The Brooklyn Boy is not primarily a book about either Bowie or Bolan, and rightly so. It is, of course, about the Brooklyn Boy himself and I have truly enjoyed being privileged to see (through this book) his world from the inside. It's a world of pleasure and pain, reward and let down, recklessness and sobriety. **** - it's a ****- ing awesome story of one of the greatest record producers of all time.
Mark Townsend - October 2013
One of Visconti's other projects that would one day bear fruit was Marc Bolan and his band T. Rex, which began as just Marc on acoustic guitar and Steve Peregrine Took on bongo drums. Soon Bolan would go electric, and not long after, just two weeks shy of his 30th birthday, he would die in a car accident on September 16th, 1977. Visconti worked with the creative but egotistical Bolan on most of his best albums, such as My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair... But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows, The Slider, Electric Warrior, Tanx, and Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow (Bolan was tremendously jealous of Bowie, but was this last title a kind of tribute to Ziggy?).
While Bolan and Bowie were perhaps his best known clients, he produced an amazing variety of albums for other artists, such as Gentle Giant, Iggy Pop, Adam Ant, Badfinger, Morrissey, Linda McCartney, The Strawbs, Thin Lizzy, Osibisa, Mary Hopkin (who he was married to, and had 2 kids with), Rick Wakeman, and Sparks. His autobiography covers an amazing career, and also details Visconti's other interests, such as martial arts, Buddhism, The Alexander Technique, and reincarnation. As the book focused mostly on music, and music that I have loved and listened to for years, wondering how exactly it was produced, I found it to be hard to put down. For me, it was the ultimate page turner. I blazed through it in just a few days. When I was done, I felt like Tony Visconti was an old friend of mine, and I wished I could just call him up and talk to him. I found his website and joined his MySpace page.
Tony Visconti has been married four times and admits that music was his one true love, and that he bears most of the blame for the breakup of his relationships. He was married to Mary Hopkin, who was perhaps best known for her hit song, Those Were the Days. He loved her voice and recorded lots of material of her singing, but she hated touring, and no labels wanted to release her records if she wasn't going to tour in support of them. He had 2 kids with Hopkin, and he also had 2 kids with another wife, May Pang. May Pang was best known for being John Lennon's girlfriend during a turbulent period when he was separated from Yoko Ono, and Pang describes this in her book John Lennon: The Lost Weekend that she wrote along with Henry Edwards.
Tony's book begins with Tony as a boy in Brooklyn with a keen interest in music who worked in the Catskills and knew show biz people like Milton Berle, but when he heard The Beatles he knew that he wanted to go to London and learn the strange alchemy they used to get their sounds. Opportunity met preparation when he bumped into record producer Denny Cordell who was in New York to record with US jazz musicians for a track for singer Georgie Fame. Cordell didn't have any arrangements, thinking the jazz players could just wing it, but the eager young Visconti knew that wasn't the way it was done, and was able to sketch out some quick arrangements for the session. This led to his being asked to work in London in 1967, and soon he was assisting Cordell with groups like The Move, Manfred Mann, Joe Cocker, and Procol Harum. He was in the right place at the right time, and became one of the main movers and shakers during this fertile period.
While recording in Berlin with David Bowie he stopped by the Berlin Wall to kiss his girlfriend. David Bowie was watching from his window and was inspired to write the following lyrics:
I can remember
By the wall
And the guns
Shot above our heads
And we kissed
As though nothing could fall
1968: My People Were Fair And Had Sky In Their Hair...But Now They're Content To Wear Stars On Their Brows [Vinyl] - Tyrannosaurus Rex
1970: The Man Who Sold the World - David Bowie
1971: Acquiring the Taste - Gentle Giant
1972: The Slider - T. Rex
1977: The Idiot - Iggy Pop
1977: Low - David Bowie
1977: Heroes - David Bowie
1985: Vive le Rock - Adam Ant
2006: Ringleader of the Tormentors - Morrissey
Read all about it in tony visconti, the autobiography. Tony Visconti sums it all up with these three quotes from some of the artists he has worked with:
'Life's a gas.' Marc Bolan
'Life's a pigsty.' Morrissey
'We could be heroes.' David Bowie
Thank you Tony for shedding so much light on two of my favourite musicians and sharing your story with us!
Recollections of producing Thin Lizzy are less acrimonious; exasperating though Phil Lynott and his hard-partying band mates were to work with, a mutual love of rock `n' roll resulted in electric broadsides like Bad Reputation, Black Rose, and the mega-hit Live & Dangerous, the highly overdubbed nature of which Visconti now admits to in a detailed technical explanation/defense of studio trickery. We also get interesting encounters with Iggy, Jagger, Bono, and Linda McCartney -- Macca himself reenters the story periodically like a god descending from Olympus -- and a brief troll through various lesser productions over the past decades, from the sublime (Gentle Giant, the Alarm) to the ridiculous (Zaine Griff, Haysi Fantayzee), as well as heartfelt accounts of the passionate yet failed marriages to "Beatle babes" Mary Hopkin and May Pang.
Of course, no reader cracks this book without hoping for substantial insight into David Bowie, and here Visconti delivers the goods in style. Despite lengthy gaps later, Visconti was involved in Bowie's career from just after the release of David's quirky vaudevillian debut and was as much band member and music director as studio mastermind. We learn a good deal about David's writing style: lots of jamming and experimentation (melodies and lyrics always added later), his collaborations with Eno on the famous Berlin Trilogy, his perfectionism, and clearly his recognition that Visconti could be counted on to give frank advice and bring a cool head and consummate skill to the mixing table.
Visconti doesn't skirt the rupture in their relationship, when Bowie chose Nile Rodgers as producer for Let's Dance, earning a multi-platinum hit but beginning a period of musical exile for Visconti (and mediocre product from Bowie) that ended in the late Nineties with their collaboration on Heathen, a worthy return to form for both artists. One can see the mistakes that Visconti made to bring about that separation (ego, drugs, misplaced priorities), but given the solid records their partnership has since produced, and Visconti's role in breathing new life into Bowie's concert catalogue (Stage, Ziggy Stardust the Movie, and the utterly resurrected David Live), it's all water under the bridge - Visconti's own choice of phrase for many of the bad choices recounted, along with the good, in this fine autobiography.