“His work with Gentle Giant surely seals his prog reputation”: Produced By Tony Visconti box set

73 personally curated tracks covers a huge range of genres from Ralph McTell to Thin Lizzy

Produced By Tony Visconti
(Image: © Demon Music Group)

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Tony Visconti’s artistic legacy is largely defined by his professional working relationships with David Bowie and Marc Bolan. His chart breakthrough might have been with Bolan (Ride A White Swan, the first of 11 consecutive hits the Brooklyn-born Visconti delivered for T.Rex), but his most enduring collaboration was with Bowie (47 years off and on, from the singer’s eponymous debut to his swansong Blackstar).

Yet there’s far more to Visconti than glam rock midwifery, as this neatly packaged four-CD/six-LP set amply demonstrates. Over the course of 73 tracks, personally curated – if a little too subjectively – by Visconti, it covers an array of genres from Ralph McTell’s Streets Of London to Thin Lizzy’s Dancing In The Moonlight.

But Visconti was also manning the desk as pioneering psych (The Tickle’s Subway) metamorphosed through chamber pop (Procol Harum’s Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)), to the pastoral symphonic prog of Tthe Strawbs’ Witchwood.

Even before chumming up with emerging session stalwart Rick Wakeman, initially on the proto-prog of Junior’s Eyes’ Black Snake (Wakeman’s first recording), Visconti had a taste for the progressive, though his first production upon his ’67 arrival in London didn’t bode well. Despite featuring Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin and John Paul Jones, Biddu’s Daughter Of Love is abominable; post-Newley cheese with added lisp.

Visconti might have worked with such prog giants as The Moody Blues, Argent, Jon Anderson, Renaissance and Wakeman relatively late in their careers and on recordings you’d be hard pressed to call their best, but it’s his work with Gentle Giant that surely seals his prog reputation.

The Shulman brothers’ eponymous 70 debut is one of Visconti’s most visionary productions, while Pantagruel’s Nativity (from 1971’s Acquiring The Taste) rivals vintage Crimson in its serpentine complexity. But nothing from Bowie’s Low? Surely some mistake.

Produced By Tony Visconti is available now via Demon Music Group.

Ian Fortnam

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 20 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.