For Tape Op #29, I sat down and interviewed Tony Visconti, one of my producing/engineering heroes for his work with Bowie, T. Rex, U2, The Stranglers, Paul McCartney, and others. What I found was a generous, funny, charming and witty man whose calm exterior would set any recording session at ease. In my mind, the sonics of record production would have never been the same without his experimenting with Bowie and Eno, his magnificent arranging skills, and some endless creativity. In this autobiography, Tony is brutally honest about his life, his mistakes, drug abuse, and the intense whirlwind of a workload that he went through for many years. It's a fascinating tale, from a childhood in Brooklyn to producing records all over the world. For us recording geeks, the book is fairly general; Tony takes the time to explain the recording process-and occasionally the unique techniques he used to get sounds and performances-but overall, the story here is of hard work and a love of music. If there is one very tangible lesson many of us could get from this book, it would be a cautionary tale of keeping one's life balanced between work and everything else out there. In all, a great read on an important producer and some insight into
bits of history I don't think you'll find anywhere else. In issue #54, we interviewed Richard Barone about his recording and producing life, from Tiny Tim to his fabulous Bongos to recent work. In Frontman, Richard tackles his life, with yet another cautionary tale for us-of thinking the party will never end and not keeping one's self grounded. What shines through here (and also in Tony's book) is a lifelong love of music-where writing, recording and performing music isn't something taken lightly or as a hobby, but is an overwhelming passion that pushes Richard on. There are some great stories from the studios, and Richard's recognizing (with hindsight) what scenarios didn't work right provides us geeks with some vital information. Interestingly, Tony Visconti becomes a specter and eventual character in Frontman, as Richard ends up working with him in recent times after adoring his record production for years. Another heartfelt, honest biography that I'd recommend
for recordists and fans of music.
($42 direct, www.tonyvisconti.com; $19.95 MSRP, www.richardbarone.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.