Thursday, 25 June 2009

Bauhaus - Telegram Sam & Ziggy Stardust (cover versions)

Here are some glam cover versions by 80’s Goth rock band Bauhaus. A couple of Bowie and T Rex covers to link in with the last Tony Visconti blog entry.

Even original music by Bauhaus always had elements of glam rock and heavy metal so it was appropriate that they released a cover of the T Rex song ‘Telegram Sam’ in September 1980. It was followed in 1982 with a version of Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’ which reached number 15 in the charts.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Tony Visconti (Producer)

Tony Visconti has emerged as one of the most influential producers of the glam rock era through work with David Bowie and T Rex.
Visconti had relocated to London in 1968 and almost immediately began producing tracks by T Rex, followed soon after by Bowie’s Space Oddity album. Although working with other artists during this period, Bowie and T Rex remain the two acts that Visconti is best remembered for.

It was Visconti who played bass and toured with ‘The Hype’ along with Bowie, guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer John Cambridge. The band was short lived but this line up went on to record ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ album. Visconti also produced ‘Diamond Dogs’, and ‘Young Americans’ for Bowie, while for T Rex he produced the classic ‘Electric Warrior’ and ‘The Slider'.
Visconti continued to work with Bowie as the decade progressed, collaborating on ‘Low’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lodger’ With production duties in 1980 on ‘Scary Monsters and Super Creeps'. Visconti renewed his association with Bowie, producing the albums ‘Heathen’ in 2002 and ‘Reality’ in 2003.
In more recent times he has produced albums for Morrissey, who had previously been produced by Mick Ronson on the ‘Your Arsenal’ album.
Metal Guru is a number one single from ‘the Slider’ album released in 1972. This version is a mash up of an earlier version from the Electric Warrior sessions, and the final version, after Visconti had added his magic.

Talking of Marc Bolan he said;
“He knew he was going to be big, and he had everything to back it up; talent, imagination and great songs. His melodies were absolutely superb”
The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud is also a mash up. The first half is from a BBC live session, with the normal version of the song coming in at the end.
“My greatest pride was my orchestral arrangement for "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud". This was originally a throwaway B-side for "Space Oddity", but I heard orchestral parts in my head from the beginning. It took 5 whole days to write. I set up the studio of 50 musicians with David sitting right in the middle playing his acoustic 12-string. I was standing in front of him conducting the orchestra. At the mixing stage of this album, John Cambridge, the drummer, introduced us to his guitar player friend from Hull -- Mick Ronson. Mick came to the mix of "The Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud", and was persuaded to play a little guitar line in the middle part and joined in the handclaps on the same section. That is actually the first appearance of Mick Ronson on a David Bowie album”

Friday, 19 June 2009

Mott the Hoople – Saturday Gig (a-side): Ian Hunter – Once Bitten Twice Shy (a-side)

While Mick Ronson was recording his second solo album ‘Play Don’t Worry’ he was also playing with Mott the Hoople and working on lead singer Ian Hunter’s debut solo album ‘Ian Hunter’. In production and style this album and Ronson’s own are part of the same blend and template.

One of the many fans of Mott the Hoople was David Bowie and he offered them a song he had just written called Suffragette City. The band didn’t really think the song was right for them so Bowie sat on the floor of Mott’s office and played All the Young Dudes on acoustic guitar, the rest as they say is history.
For the next two years Mott the Hoople had a string of hits culminating in Saturday Gig with Mick Ronson now part of the band having taken over from the brilliantly named Ariel Bender.
“This grandiose anthem was Mott the Hoople's last single and lyrically appeared to be saying goodbye to their fans. However this was not the band's intention. Keyboardist Morgan Fisher explained to Mojo magazine May 2009: "While we were making it we didn't think it was about the end, which seems incredibly na├»ve now. For me, it was a summing up of what had happened so far, now we'll move on. That may have been Ian's take on it too, until it all went pear-shaped."
“The song's failure to climb any higher than #41 in the UK charts was the clincher in the break-up of Mott the Hoople. Its failure caused a devastated Hunter to cancel a UK tour. He later told Pete Frame: "I thought that was the best single we ever did, and it frightened the life out of me when it didn't make it."

“Oh 73 was a jamboree. The dudes were the news and the dudes were we.
Did you see the suits and the platform boots. Hey man, you wanna party”Saturday Gig 1974
The opening track on Hunters solo album was Once Bitten Twice Shy.

“This was Hunter's first single after leaving Mott The Hoople. The extended version appears on the self-titled "Ian Hunter" album, which was released by CBS in 1975. The single was released on April 4th and entered the UK charts on May 3, and stayed there for ten weeks peaking at number 14."

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Mick Ronson - Billy Porter (a-side)

“Who else can play my stuff like him”?Ian Hunter

Mick Ronson is in many ways the unsung hero of Glam Rock. He is known predominantly for his guitar and production work with David Bowie between 1970 - 73 on albums such as Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, and also for work with Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople as well as on Lou Reed’s Transformer album.

Ronson first teamed up with Bowie in 1970 and was responsible for much of the production and arrangements on many of Bowie’s best ‘glam era’ albums. He began his solo career in 1973 when Bowie had disbanded the ‘Spiders from Mars’.

Billy Porter is taken from his second solo album ‘Play Don’t Worry’ released in 1975. Only four songs on the album were written by Ronson of which Billy Porter is one. All the guitar work and most of the vocal work were performed by Ronson as well as some bass, keyboards and drums.

He spent many years as a session musician working for amongst others Elton John but eventually returned to Hull disillusioned with the music business. It was while working as a gardener for Hull Council’s Parks department that he was recruited to play in Bowie’s backing band at the time ‘The Hype’ Having failed in earlier attempts in London he was at first reluctant to accept the job.

Ronson made his debut with Bowie on John Peel’s Radio 1 Sunday Show in February 1970. The hype played their first gig at the Roundhouse the same month with a line up that included Tony Visconti (Bowie’s producer) on bass. The band’s gimmick was to dress up in super hero costumes, Bowie was Rainbowman, Visconti was Hypeman and Ronson was Gangsterman.

This is often thought to be one of the catalysts that kick started glam rock and Marc Bolan is thought to have been at one of the Hypes earliest gigs getting ideas for his glam rock style.

After leaving Bowie and the Spiders from Mars he had a brief stint as part of Mott the Hoople and collaborated with Mott front man Ian Hunter as well as working on his own solo material. Mick and Ian Hunter worked together on and off for the next 20 years.

In 1993 he again worked with Bowie on his Black Tie White Noise album and produced Morrissey’s Your Arsenal album in 1992. Mick Ronson died from cancer in 1993 and had a third solo album Heaven and Hull released posthumously in 1994.

The Mick Ronson Memorial Stage now stands in the park where he once worked, Queens Gardens in his hometown of Hull. There is also a street named after him on Bilton Grange Estate, not far from where he lived.

The opening track on his second album is Billy Porter it didn’t sell in great quantities but is still brilliant. It’s a quirky song that you wouldn’t expect from guitar hero Ronson.