Producer Tony Visconti on Sound Opinions

Tony Visconti & Opinions on Jonas Brothers

Jim and Greg welcome producer Tony Visconti, the man behind the glam-rock sounds of T. Rex and David Bowie.

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The RIAA sues people with such frequency that Jim and Greg aren't always able to keep up. But, when one defendant, Tanya Andersen of Oregon, not only won her case, but forced the Recording Industry to pay up, Jim and Greg took notice. After being sued for copyright infringement, Anderson undertook the long battle of defending herself, followed by a countersuit against the RIAA. Now a year after being ordered to pay for her court bills, the RIAA has finally paid up, with interest.

Campaign ads have been making a lot of headlines recently, and as Jim notes, with those ads comes the inevitable music-related lawsuit. The musician this time around is Jackson Browne. The famously liberal singer/songwriter is suing both Republican candidate John McCain, as well as the Republican National Committee for copyright infringement. The song "Running On Empty" was featured in a campaign ad that mocks Barack Obama's energy conservation plans. Browne is not only seeking financial damages, but also an apology. Since Browne's political leanings are so well-documented, Jim and Greg are concerned about any politician that hasn't mastered the art of Google.

Next up Jim and Greg honor music producer Jerry Wexler, who died recently at the age of 91. Wexler helped put Atlantic Records on the map. While Atlantic colleague Ahmet Ertegun was the shiny face of the label, Wexler was the behind-the-scenes mover and shaker according to Greg. Jim adds that he was one of the last of a generation of“men with ears,”meaning that Wexler's ability to find and foster talent was an art in itself. Perhaps Wexler's greatest find was Aretha Franklin. He helped the singer really shine on tracks like "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)."

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Tony Visconti

While the performer gets all the glory, sometimes it's the producer who shares the guts. This week Jim and Greg hear from anonther of rock's great behind-the-scenes men, Tony Visconti. Visconti has worked with everyone from The Moody Blues to Alejandro Escovedo, but is primarily known for the albums he did with glam rockers T. Rex and David Bowie. Visconti relays how he was lucky enough to meet both men shortly after moving from Brooklyn to the U.K.; both were relatively young and undiscovered. Marc Bolan of T. Rex was still performing hippy folk songs as a member of Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Bowie was beginning song writing but had no direction. Visconti established long-term relationships with both Bowie and Bolan and helped them carve out their identities. You'll hear Visconti discuss the making of such landmark albums as Electric Warrior and Heroes.

reviewA Little Bit LongerA Little Bit Longer available on iTunes

Jonas Brothers A Little Bit Longer

Disney is cashing in big yet again with another group of stylish, singing kids. The Jonas Brothers' new album A Little Bit Longer sold over 500,000 albums in its first week. They're also the first group since N'SYNC to have two albums in the Billboard top ten list in the same week (the other album being their self-titled release). Greg is impressed by Disney's marketing machine, but now understands that all it takes to sell records is cute boys. He doesn't think the album is very good, calling it“mild-mannered”and“chaste.”Jim doesn‘t like it either, but isn’t sold on the chastity. He thinks that "BB Good" is seedier than it appears and is also aggravated by the group's bombastic, Broadway-inspired singing style. He gives it a Trash It. Greg doesn‘t buy into Jim’s theory about a darker Jonas Brothers subtext, but also gives the album a Trash It.

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Jim

“The Porpoise Song”The Monkees

While Jim doesn't dig the Jonas Brothers, he's certainly not anti-bubblegum pop. His favorite band in the genre is The Monkees, a group who was manufactured as an“American Beatles,”with their own TV show. Head, their self-made movie, presented a different image from the cute, harmless one their TV show portrayed. At the time they made the movie, the band members were experimenting with psychedelics and a little more musically inspired. The opener is "The Porpoise Song", a classic, albeit drug-inspired, bubblegum pop song, and it is Jim's latest Desert Island Jukebox pick.

Featured Songs

  1. Big Black, The Big Payback, Racer-X, Homestead, 1984
  2. Jackson Browne, Running on Empty, Running on Empty, Asylum, 1977
  3. Big Joe Turner, Shake, Rattle and Roll, , Atlantic, 1954
  4. Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You, I Never Loved a Man The Way I Loved You, Atlantic, 1967
  5. David Bowie, The Man Who Sold the World, The Man Who Sold the World, Mercury, 1970
  6. Georgie Fame, The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde, The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde, Epic, 1968
  7. Procol Harum, Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum, Regal Zonophone, 1967
  8. T. Rex, Strange Orchestras, My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows, Regal Zonophone, 1968
  9. T. Rex, Ride a White Swan, Bolan Boogie, Cube, 1972
  10. T. Rex, Bang a Gong (Get it On), Electric Warrior, Fly, 1971
  11. T. Rex, Cosmic Dancer, Electric Warrior, Fly, 1971
  12. The Moody Blues, Your Wildest Dreams, The Other Side of Life, Polydor, 1986 (0:20)
  13. Gentle Giant, Giant, Gentle Giant, Vertigo, 1970
  14. David Bowie, Space Oddity, Space Oddity, Mercury, 1972
  15. David Bowie, Heroes, Heroes, RCA, 1977
  16. Jonas Brothers, Burnin Up, A Little Bit Longer, Hollywood, 2008
  17. Jonas Brothers, BB Good, A Little Bit Longer, Hollywood, 2008
  18. The Monkees, The Porpoise Song, Head, Colgems, 1968
  19. The Notwist,“Pick Up the Phone”Neon Golden, City Slang, 2002
  20. Scarlett Johannson, I Don't Want to Grow Up, Anywhere I Lay My Head, Atco, 2008
  21. William Shatner, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, The Transformed Man, Decca, 1968
  22. William Shatner, Common People, Has Been, Shout! Factory, 2004

Footnotes

riaa.com RIAA arstechnica.com Tanya Andersen relentless in quest to nail the RIAA nytimes.com Portraying McCain as Out of Touch jacksonbrowne.com Jackson Browne johnmccain.com John McCain rollingstone.com Jerry Wexler dies atlanticrecords.com Atlantic Records tonyvisconti.com Tony Visconti allmusic.com T. Rex davidbowie.com David Bowie amazon.co.uk Tony Visconti's Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy last.fm Electric Warrior metrolyrics.com“BB Good”lyrics monkees.net The Monkees imdb.com Head on IMDB youtube.com“The Porpoise Song”music video