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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


Philip Glass – Songs From Liquid Days
Philip Glass I’ve always loved. I heard of him before Bowie but it was Bowie who told me how much of an important composer he is. From the early days there were always kind of jokes about Philip Glass’ repetition; he’s very well known for that and there’s nothing wrong with that. It is all arpeggios played over and over again but it was Einstein On The Beach that turned my mind. I could have equally put that album down but there are so many versions of it because it is a stage piece that could be five hours long and David played some of it to me on cassette, otherwise we’d have been there for five hours! But I went "oh! This man is brilliant!"

It’s absolutely brilliant, with his integration of musical styles and the poetry of that album turns maps into lyrics and going along with the beat of the music and waxing lyrical about "how do I love thee? How many grains of sand are there on the beach?" It was a very, very long album for a composer who previously was thought to only write arpeggios.

What was your reaction to his re-interpretation of Low?

I didn’t like it all. I hated it. I thought the romantic version is the one side of Philip Glass that I’m not in love with, where he kind of emulates Beethoven. I know Bowie will forgive me because I can be critical of his work – but I’ll also praise his work to the skies – but I think his involvement may have been a little back seat to that but then everyone would be in awe of Philip Glass. And I think it was Philip’s decision to give it such a romantic treatment like Beethoven or early Mahler. I didn’t like that; I like it when Philip Glass is being himself.

But getting back to Songs From Liquid Days, this is Philip Glass writing pop songs. That was amazing! His synthesiser was going full-tilt and every song he wrote had a different lyricist and the lyrics on the album are just amazing! He got people who were essentially session singers – apart from Linda Ronstadt - to sing. It’s an album of pureness, pure beauty; it’s simple and so accessible and sometimes I put this album on just to clear my brain out. It’s perfect.