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Baker's Dozen

Prophets, Seers & Sages: Tony Visconti's Favourite Albums
Julian Marszalek , October 31st, 2012 09:01

While the veteran producer has recently been remastering T. Rex's The Slider for its 40th anniversary re-release, he found time to pick out 13 of his top records for us

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The Beatles – Revolver
Of course I first encountered this when it came out in ’66. The Beatles were very popular and made what I would call juvenile music; kids loved The Beatles and I mean certain musicians like myself who were older at the time – in ’66 I would have been 22 years old – would appreciate the chord changes they were making and The Beatles’ harmonies were great up until that point. They were terrific. Even with Rubber Soul, which was an adventurous album, but it was still kind of a fan album but Revolver was a complete left turn and it showed how the studio could be used as an instrument.

To this day, I still haven’t heard anything as stunning as Revolver by anybody. For me, it’s a benchmark album; there are guitar tones that are on there that are indescribable, like the one that George Harrison got on ‘Love You To’. It sounds like a chainsaw cutting down a tree in Vermont.

Also, it was the height of psychedelia, where people were ingesting drugs and listening to records. It really was a new genre when you consider that people would be in such a lucid and vulnerable state of mind while listening to your music and The Beatles kind of took responsibility for that. I’m telling you, Revolver sounds like two different albums: when you’re straight it sounds like cool songs but when you’d taken LSD to it, you’d hear something that went far deeper! Even sinister in many ways. And also enlightening.

What was it like listening to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ for the first time in ’66? Well, they were listening to the words of Timothy Leary and everything they learned from that psychedelic guru they threw into that particular track. They used direct quotes from his speeches like "turn off your mind, relax and float downstream" but musically they accomplished that too. It was definitely a musical description of turning off your mind and floating downstream. It was incredible how the music matched the lyrics and, previous to this album, nobody was writing like that.

Also, it was a device at the end, I think, when they were singing, "at the beginning, at the beginning", to make you flip the record over and start again at the beginning of the record. I got caught up with that and when on a trip - I must have played Revolver about 25 times! I was under their spell! I was fucking brainwashed! It was fantastic!

I also have to tell you that it helped make up my mind that I had to move to the UK. I had to learn how people made records like this. I had to meet The Beatles and I had to meet everyone involved with making this record. And I eventually did. This record changed my life; I can truly say that.


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