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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


Spike Jones And His City Slickers – Anthology
I think everybody knows who Spike Jones is but they don’t know his name. They hear all those songs with the goofy, trad jazz bands and all the shots going off into the air and all that. Spike Jones was the perfect combination of comedy and whacked-out music. All of his musicians where incredibly talented and technically perfect.

My father introduced him to me and between Spike Jones and Les Paul in the 50s, I realised that something was going on in the studio that doesn’t go on on the stage. There was studio magic long before The Beatles and that was done by Spike Jones and Les Paul. They were both using tape as a medium.

I know from people who have worked with Spike Jones – in fact, I know his daughter, Lesley Anne Jones – that he had two arrangements. One arrangement was the band would record just the instruments and the vocals and for the second, the band would drop all their instruments and everyone would pick up a saucepan or a klaxon horn or a whistle or a gun and they would read off a sheet of music and play those sound effects as if they were their instruments. It’s amazing and I have a friend who saw some of the scores and it was just mind-blowing the work that went in to those recordings!

And then, I didn’t exactly know what a record producer was but I wanted to work in a recording studio because of Spike Jones’ recordings. And of course, as a kid, they really made me laugh; I thought they were hysterical.