Somewhere, Soligny, TV, Come back, Bro Bro, Dog's Balls, Showdown, Can't stop...
To mark today's release of the Diamond Dogs 30th Anniversary 2CD edition, (released in US next Tuesday 15th) our crazy, but somehow impossibly charming, French friend, Jerome Soligny, has kindly supplied a short interview he conducted with Tony Visconti recently.
You won't be surprised to learn that the questions centre around Tony's involvement with the album, and though he has spoken on the subject before, it's still a great read. And so, without further ado...
Total Blam Blam - (BowieNet News Editor)
JS: When DB got back to you after his Glam period for that great "Diamond Dogs" project were you surprised by the material?
TV: I was surprised because I didn't know what to expect. He always surprises me with his new directions. I thought the album was one of his darkest.
JS: The legend says he asked you to help him finish the album. In which state were the songs when you entered the studio (Good Earth?) together?
TV: They were mixed many times in different studios all over London. David thought that the studios were at fault so he called me out of the blue to ask my advice. I told him I had just finished building my own home studio, a then state-of-the-art 16 track studio. He came over for a trial mix. He liked it and came back to remix the entire album. Although it was technically finished when I got it, David was impressed with my new digital gear and we added some special effects that were previously unheard before, like the repetitive, "...bro, bro, bro, bro, bro,..." at the end of the album. I think he sang some extra parts, but by and large it was mainly a mixing job for me. I had already contributed string writing to "1984" but I hadn't heard the rest of the album's material until much later, when he asked me to mix.
JS: DB's involvement in "Diamond Dogs" is very important in terms of instrumentation. Did he play more on this one ?
TV: I know he played more guitar and keyboards than on previous albums and he told me it was important that he did that because he had a concept in his head that he didn't think session musicians could interpret. I thought his playing was brilliant.
JS: The "Rebel Rebel" riff is one of the most recognisable of the rock history. Coming from the man who conceived "Low" and "Heroes" a few years later, don't you think it's amazing to realise he can be brilliant with simple things?
TV: He is "Mr. Concept" and his concepts can sometimes be deceptively simple.
JS: What are your favourites on this one and why?
TV: I love "Sweet Thing" and its connected songs because this is an epic that came off well and is very compelling from beginning to end. It evokes an imagery of a detective film noire.
JS: What did you think of the "balls" cover at the time ? Have you kept one?
TV: I thought the dog balls were a great idea. I think I have that cover in storage. Why it was censored is beyond me. By the way, David was born in the Chinese year of the dog, but I don't think they have 'diamond' years.
JS: Deciding not to work with the Spiders anymore, DB kinda put himself in an artistically dangerous situation. Don't you think that kind of thing suits him very well?
TV: For him, always. It is not like him to be dependent. He will be dependent on a musical association, up to a point, but if a situation compromises his creativity he swiftly moves on.
JS: Why do you think this album is one of the fans' favourite? Why do you think it can captivate the younger generations today?
TV: I'm not sure it is a favorite of fans, but it has a timeless sound to it.
JS: In terms of production and arrangement, "Dogs" is just another masterpiece. How would you rate your work compared to what you were doing at the time with Marc for instance?
TV: Oh, DD is the work of a visionary. I was already finished with Marc Bolan for a couple of years when I started working on DD. I was frustrated with Marc because he would not take the time out to write an album of depth and vision. He was caught up in the instant single formula, something he never recovered from. I have to say that Marc was producing extraordinary visions with his earlier works as Tyrannosaurus Rex, the album Unicorn, for instance.
JS: "Dogs" turned Ziggy into a soul boy. Do you think the art of mutation is DB's finest?
TV: He is obviously very good at changing his sound and style, yet remaining David Bowie at the core. Not many artists can do this, in fact I can't think of one. Prince could, but he doesn't, he sticks to formula.