Jump to content

Bowie's Bassists - Tony Visconti


Jonesy

Recommended Posts

I'm not the biggest Bowie fan - I know his hits and a handful of album tracks, but can't say I've actually listened to more than 3 of his studio albums (an issue that I am fast remedying with the help of the favourite Bowie albums thread on here). Anyway, by chance of the Spotify algorithm, one of the album tracks from 'The Man Who Sold The World' was on my play list and the bass really jumped out at me, so I gave the whole album a listen and was pleasantly surprised. I generally think Bowie's bassists are 'fine' and nothing had really grabbed my attention before, but I really like the playing on 'The Man Who Sold The World' - it's great stuff with a tone I really dig and interesting lines that aren't overly busy to the detriment of the song. The whole album actually surprised me tbf, and is a lot rockier than I had expected. It's almost like Bowie is backed by Mountain or Zeppelin 😃

 

Anyway, the bass player is Tony Visconti and there's loads of stuff out there that he's produced etc, but I can't seem to find much about his bass playing outside of this album and a Bowie covers band he's in. Does anyone know if he's played on other albums? 

 

Here's the track that got me hooked....
 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, I was going to caveat Gail Ann Dorsey and probably should have in my original post - I know she's a great bassist, but I've never heard her play on a Bowie tune and been blown away. In truth, part of the problem with that statement is that I haven't listened to loads of Bowie and I've listened to even less of Bowie live, which I'd imagine is where the bass lines get noodled away on. 

 

If you have any clips of her (or other Bowie bassists) that you really like then I'm sure my ears would be grateful 😁

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Jonesy said:

I generally think Bowie's bassists are 'fine' and nothing had really grabbed my attention before
 

Tim Lefebvre's playing on the Blackstar album is beyond fine. I've never been a huge Bowie fan, and it was Tim's playing (and the whole band) that made me buy that album.

Bowie live at Glastonbury is pretty ace too.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was in a Bowie tribute band, it was Trevor Bolder’s lines that I really enjoyed playing (Ziggy is great fun). Although, come to think of it, all the songs were pretty good fun bass-wise (including Visconti’s lines on MWSTW - nice), except Heroes.
 

I never really think of Tony V as a bass player, it’s his production work that I normally think of when his name is mentioned.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ezbass said:

When I was in a Bowie tribute band, it was Trevor Bolder’s lines that I really enjoyed playing (Ziggy is great fun). Although, come to think of it, all the songs were pretty good fun bass-wise (including Visconti’s lines on MWSTW - nice), except Heroes.
 

I never really think of Tony V as a bass player, it’s his production work that I normally think of when his name is mentioned.

Part of the show when I saw Holy Holy was TV talking about the different songs and how Bowie approached them..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Jonesy said:

You know, I was going to caveat Gail Ann Dorsey and probably should have in my original post - I know she's a great bassist, but I've never heard her play on a Bowie tune and been blown away. In truth, part of the problem with that statement is that I haven't listened to loads of Bowie and I've listened to even less of Bowie live, which I'd imagine is where the bass lines get noodled away on. 

 

If you have any clips of her (or other Bowie bassists) that you really like then I'm sure my ears would be grateful 😁

 

This is one of my favourite Gail moments. Beautiful song with a lush arrangement with a few Gail-ism's thrown into the mix for good measure.

When we learnt this song, it was this version we used a template.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Doddy said:

Tim Lefebvre's playing on the Blackstar album is beyond fine. I've never been a huge Bowie fan, and it was Tim's playing (and the whole band) that made me buy that album.

Bowie live at Glastonbury is pretty ace too.

 

Ta very much for that, I'll check Blackstar out in more detail as well as his Glasto set.

 

3 hours ago, Muzz said:

Gail Ann Dorsey...there's more to being Bowie's bassist than just playing the notes...anyone who could make DB smile like he does at 2:31 is doing something very special indeed...

 

 

 

Her vocals are out of this world! I checked out a few versions of Under Pressure on YT and didn't realise she could sing like that too.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

32 minutes ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

The 'Low' album is also great with George Murray on bass. I really love his playing as it goes in some unusual directions.

Alway love playing 'Breaking Glass', in fact the whole of Side A is just fabulous.

 

I checked out that  Soul Tour '74 live album off the back of your suggestion in another Bowie thread and it's a cracker, thanks for that!

 

I'll give those other suggestions a spin tomo when I've got some decent speakers to do them justice.

Edited by Jonesy
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

I love Carmine Rojas' playing on the Let's Dance album. To me that's ultimate Bowie Bass playing. 

 

Crikey. I'm not sure I've met anyone who shares that view.

I'll say that there are few examples of Modern Love being played live sounding anywhere near as good as it does on Let's Dance. Live Aid is probably an exception and that wasn't Rojas anyway.

I know we always had a tough time with it and a lot of videos of Bowie playing it just don't sound right, even with Gail dare I say.

 

Let us not forget Mark King's contribution to the Bowie cannon....

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 minutes ago, hiram.k.hackenbacker said:

 

Crikey. I'm not sure I've met anyone who shares that view.

I'll say that there are few examples of Modern Love being played live sounding anywhere near as good as it does on Let's Dance. Live Aid is probably an exception and that wasn't Rojas anyway.

I know we always had a tough time with it and a lot of videos of Bowie playing it just don't sound right, even with Gail dare I say.

 

Let us not forget Mark King's contribution to the Bowie cannon....

 

 

I'm by no means a massive Bowie fan or aficionado and would never profess to be. I just really like that album and loved the playing on it. 
 

Horses for courses I guess but as a "greatest hits" kinda guy, it works for me :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

I'm by no means a massive Bowie fan or aficionado and would never profess to be. I just really like that album and loved the playing on it. 
 

Horses for courses I guess but as a "greatest hits" kinda guy, it works for me :)

 

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Let's Dance. It's just not top of my list. If it works for you then it's all good 👍

I'm reminded of the first time I heard Bowie's cover of Springsteens 'It's Hard To Be a Saint In The City'.

Being a huge Springsteen and Bowie fan, it's almost jarring hearing Bowie sing this whilst the song retains the DNA of Sprinsteen throughout. Absolutely love it.

George Murray again on bass by the way @Jonesy.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

This track features Tony Visconti and myself in 1981, in a mega bass shootout🤩

Actually, I'm kidding!  I think minimalist is a word that better describe what's going on, or not going on in the bass department😕

Tony plays the  high acoustic bass in the verses, while I play the more traditional role throughout. There's a section where Tony suggested I track the bass several times - probably in a desperate attempt to make the track sound vaguely interesting.

Edited by SteveK
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Muzz said:

Gail Ann Dorsey...there's more to being Bowie's bassist than just playing the notes...anyone who could make DB smile like he does at 2:31 is doing something very special indeed...

 

 

That is just mind blowing. Considering Bowie could have hired pretty much anyone he wanted as a backing vocalist or whatever to do that track, to be able to play bass and not just sing but to deliver that performance.... Mind blowing. I've got a new favourite bassist.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, Doddy said:

Tim Lefebvre's playing on the Blackstar album is beyond fine. I've never been a huge Bowie fan, and it was Tim's playing (and the whole band) that made me buy that album.

Bowie live at Glastonbury is pretty ace too.

 

I listened to Blackstar at the time of his passing, but have just gone through it again today. Sue is a great track with a nice line, it gets a bit horrible on places, which is great!

 

Any idea why Dorsey isn't on it though?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, Jonesy said:

 

I listened to Blackstar at the time of his passing, but have just gone through it again today. Sue is a great track with a nice line, it gets a bit horrible on places, which is great!

 

Any idea why Dorsey isn't on it though?


In much the same way as Zappa changed his band many times, so did Bowie. I totally get it. A different set of musicians gives a completely different sound. I also think that at the time of recording, getting the big names in for blocks of studios time (Visconti being the exception) wasn’t what was working for DB given his deteriorating health. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...