Space Oddity
(except title track)
::1969::

The Man Who
Sold The World
::1970::

Diamond Dogs
(mixed)
::1974::

David Live
::1974::

Young Americans
::1975::

Low
::1977::

Heroes
::1977::

Stage
::1977::

Lodger
::1979::

Scary Monsters
::1980::

Ziggy Live
::1981::

Music from Baal
::1982::

Heathen
::2002::
David Bowie :: Space Oddity

This was our first official album. I didn't produce the track "Space Oddity". I was offered the chance to, but I didn't like the idea of capitalizing on the first landing of a man on the moon -- I thought it was a cheap shot. David agreed, but said his record deal with Mercury records depended on recording this song. So my colleague Gus Dudgeon jumped at the chance of working with David and it came out great! Many years later, when I saw the way this song fitted into the scheme of things, I'd wished I'd dropped my peacenik hippie ideals and recorded this classic track. Then, just when I thought I'd lost David to Gus, David said, "Okay, that's over with, let's get on with the rest of the album." I was stunned, but David implied that the chemistry wasn't there, he wanted to continue to work with me. Gus, of course, later went on to record some fine albums by Elton John.

We entered the studio with a band I recommended for David, a band I had just finished an album with, Junior's Eyes. The lead guitarist, Mick Wayne, was "borrowed" from me to play the lead on "Space Oddity".

I must confess that my work was naive (bordering on sloppy) on this album. It was my second album production, and I really didn't know too much about the quality control of sound and how to turbo-charge the sound of instruments for rock -- I always left it up to the engineer, and this young Visconti couldn't attract or afford the talents of the Geoff Emerick or Glyn Johns yet. I am, however, proud of several tracks where I felt more comfortable in my capacity of bass player and recorder player, as in "A Letter to Hermione" and "An Occasional Dream".

My greatest pride was my orchestral arrangement for "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud". This was originally a throwaway B-side for "Space Oddity", but I heard orchestral parts in my head from the beginning. It took 5 whole days to write. I set up the studio of 50 musicians with David sitting right in the middle playing his acoustic 12-string. I was standing in front of him conducting the orchestra. We were both very nervous. What we didn't foresee was that Trident had only just received their new 16-track machine, the first one in England, and there was no test tape included! So the house engineer was frantically tried to calibrate it whilst we were rehearsing the song over and over again. I wanted to record a take after two hours. We did, but the playback was diabolical -- there was more hiss than music on the tape. The 50 musicians were very expensive, and there was no way we could afford to go into overtime. Eventually, with five minutes to spare, we got a take on tape that had about equal amounts of music and hiss. It was hell to mix. The original vinyls and the rereleased RCA CDs had all that terrible hiss on that track. But when Rykodisc remastered the Bowie albums, a new technology had been invented which removed hiss from old recordings, and "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud" finally sounded as brilliant as it did on the day we recorded it in the studio, before it went to tape.

At the mixing stage of this album, John Cambridge, the drummer in Junior's Eyes, introduced us to his guitar player friend from Hull -- Mick Ronson. Mick came to the mix of "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud", and was persuaded to play a little guitar line in the middle part and joined in the handclaps on the same section. That is actually the first appearance of Mick Ronson on a David Bowie album.


David Bowie accompanying me
with local guitarist Mark.





 

 

 

 

 

 


David Bowie painting the kitchen of Haddon Hall, an apartment shared with Angela Bowie, Liz Hartley and myself(1970).