Tony Visconti is a living legend. For more than 50 years he’s been behind some of the most iconic albums of our time.
His career began with T Rex, and later on he’d record with everyone from The Dandy Warhols, to Iggy Pop, The Damned to Angelique Kidjo. But his most enduring relationship was with David Bowie. They met in the late 60’s, both of them finding their way through music and the sounds, and people, they wanted to be. Visconti would produce Bowie’s most loved work of the 70’s; Young Americans, The Berlin Trilogy, and then Scary Monsters before the two took a break. He’d come back into the fold to help craft Bowie’s last four records, including his final act Blackstar.
I had the chance to spend time with Tony in Hamburg, so of course I asked him to Take 5. From the moment we met, he was an open book. You’ll hear it in our chat too, there’s a humility and groundedness to all Tony says, and he brings you into a world that, even if you’re not musically literate, you feel you belong. From Bolan to Bowie and a lifetime in between, dive into the extraordinary mind of Tony Visconti.
T. Rex – ‘Ride A White Swan ‘
Esperanza Spalding – ‘Judas’
Angelique Kidjo, Carlos Santana & Josh Groban – ‘Pearls’
Kristeen Young & David Bowie – ‘Saviour’
David Bowie – ‘Heroes’
Waleed Aly is the smartest guy in the room. Whether hosting The Project, writing editorials for major newspapers, or completing his PhD, it feels there’s nothing he’s not good at, and the Australian public agrees; he won the Gold Logie in 2016. We’re used to seeing Waleed dissect and make sense of the news every day, but sometimes you get a glimpse into his musical heart and you can see that it beats so strong. When I finally got Waleed to Take 5 I gave him the theme “Songs We Should Talk About”, a play on the title of his wonderful segment from The Project. Unsurprisingly, Waleed put a lot of thought into his songs… He sent me three separate lists of five songs (not to be changed in any way, but all telling a different story). The one we went with gifted such a rich conversation. Waleed is someone who can completely dissect a song cerebrally but also show how his connection to it changes given the emotion, and the time he’s hearing it. This conversation is something else. From Lily Allen to Public Enemy to Pink Floyd, this will make you believe in the broad and beautiful power of song.
Lily Allen – ‘Smile’
Public Enemy – ‘911 Is a Joke’
Queen – ‘The March of the Black Queen’
Billy Joel – ‘Allentown’
Pink Floyd – ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’
Peter Hook is an architect of modern music. As bass player and founding member of Joy Division and New Order, his melodic high playing style changed the game. Hooky’s bands influenced countless other artists from all across the musical map. From the branches of post punk and electronic music, these two groups changed the game for all of us. Plenty of bands lifted from that blueprint too: Radiohead, Interpol, Arcade Fire, the list goes on. But what are the songs that are unknown pleasures for Peter Hook? The sparks of inspiration that led him in new direction, the music he swooned to as a fan? From The Sex Pistols to Sigue Sigue Sputnik, The Temptations to The Velvets, Hooky wound back through an extraordinary life. And shared a hell of a lot of stories. Wind back to the root of a huge family tree, with this wonderful conversation about discovering your place.
Sex Pistols – ‘Anarchy In The UK’
Lykke Li – ‘I Follow Rivers’
The Temptations – ‘Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)’
Sigue Sigue Sputnik – ‘Love Missile F1-11’
The Velvet Underground – ‘Venus In Furs’
Everything I have done, whether it has been terrible or wonderful, has made me the person I am.
In the early 00’s The Streets burst onto the scene. Original Pirate Material was like nothing else around. Combining garage beats with everyday stories from a geezer we could all relate to. Mike Skinner wanted to literally push things forward, taking the garage genre in a new direction and using his lyrics to talk about what was really going on inside the hearts and minds of people in the clubs. It struck a chord, and The Streets got a lot of attention. Over five albums Mike Skinner would tour Australia a whole lot, always playing festivals and always drawing a huge crowd. Then in 2011 he called it a day, releasing his final album and doing his final shows as The Streets. Music stayed in his life though. He threw himself into producing, directing, and most notably DJ-ing, behind the decks instead of out front on stage. Across his five songs choices we get a snapshot of a kid writing raps in his notebook in a hostel in Sydney. As well as the man today who is older, wiser, more grounded but with plenty of stories to tell. From Johnny Cash to Grim Sickers to Daft Punk, this is The Streets, Taking 5 with Zan Rowe and playing us his songs from then and now. Johnny Cash – ‘A Boy Named Sue’ Snoop Dogg – ‘Serial Killa (ft. The D.O.C., Tha Dogg Pound and RBX)’ Grim Sickers – ‘Open the Till (ft. Ghetts and Mike Skinner)’ Daniel Bedingfield – ‘Gotta Get Through This’ Daft Punk – ‘Human After All / Together / One More Time / Music Sounds Better With You’ (from Alive 2007)
Where do you begin with Mark Ronson? 7 Grammys, an Oscar, and so many hit records over 15 years of writing and producing music. He may not sing, but he’s topped the charts in every other way; crafting ‘Uptown Funk’, co-writing ‘Shallow’ with Lady Gaga, and collaborating with musicians from right across the genre map. Ever since that debut album back in 2003, I’ve been a fan. The way he scooped up hip-hop, soul, and funk into perfect pop packages grabbed my attention and kept it. Over the years Mark and I have crossed paths a few times but he’s never done a Take 5. And the opportunity to get inside the musical mind of Mark Ronson is something I’ve been hankering to do for a long time. From OutKast to The Smiths, King Princess to Kacey Musgraves to Prince, hear one of the world’s great producers explore how their songs define pop perfection for him. King Princess – ‘1950’ The Smiths – ‘Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’ Outkast – ‘Ms. Jackson’ Kacey Musgraves – ‘Slow Burn Prince – ‘Pop Life’
All these old songs are like your kids … They all get you to where you are at.
What can I bring to amplify this person’s superpower.
via Virginia Trioli