Mixing

The Montreux sessions lasted just two weeks, after which David Bowie sent the musicians home to rest before the Australasian leg of the Isolar II tour began in November.

While Bowie was on the road, Tony Visconti produced Thin Lizzy’s 1979 hit album Black Rose: A Rock Legend, which was recorded in Paris and London.

Bowie had intended to complete Lodger in London, but instead work resumed in March 1979 at the Record Plant’s Studio D in New York City. The location was far from ideal, and Visconti remained dissatisfied with the results.

David and I weren’t too pleased with the mixing. Studio D at Record Plant was only meant for overdubs and tracking a trio at most. There was hardly any outboard gear, save for a couple of limiters. For some reason, probably due to David’s commitments, it meant we had little time for the mixing. This was before the days of studio equipment hire. Even if we could, we would have needed a lot of outboard gear to get it done in humble Studio D. All the other rooms were booked, New York City’s studios were having a heyday, we couldn’t get in anywhere else.
Tony Visconti, April 2017
A New Career In A New Town book

Although the New York sessions were mainly for mixing the album, some new recordings were made, including a series of jams with Visconti on bass guitar, Adrian Belew on drums, and Bowie on guitar. Belew also overdubbed more guitar onto the Lodger recordings, and Visconti redid the bass guitar on ‘Boys Keep Swinging’.

Kiss was in one of the bigger rooms at the Hit Factory and one day Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley came in to pay homage to David. Honestly, they were unrecognizable without their makeup but we took their word that they were Kiss. They humbly told David that if it hadn’t been for his pioneering music, clothes and stage presentations during the Ziggy period, then they wouldn’t be Kiss. With an icy gaze David gave them a conservative thanks; he circumvented their request to play them our new music. He made it obvious that he wanted to get on with work and they made a hasty retreat. As soon as they left David said, ‘Well, it’s about fucking time they admitted it!’
Tony Visconti
Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy

Another visitor to the studio was Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, whom Bowie considered a friendly rival.

Jagger spent an evening with David and me, jamming and singing old rock and roll songs to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. I impressed Jagger by knowing the right chords to Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’. We shared a bunch of Italian stuffed artichokes my mother had sent over to fatten David up – she was worried about his health. Now Jagger managed to criticize everything we played from Lodger. David looked over to me for support and I had to chime in with, ‘We like it that way’, and David would add, ‘I wouldn’t dream of changing it.’ What could’ve been a fun evening was spoiled because Jagger seemed to have some other agenda. Finally Jagger, in a frustrated tone, said, ‘Okay, I’m leaving. I’m going to Joni Mitchell’s session and see if I can sabotage that.’
Tony Visconti
Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy

During another mixing session two groupies asked if they could be allowed inside the studio.

We were up for a laugh so we told them to wait for a few minutes. With a white grease pencil we drew four white lines on the black Formica panel of the recording console and put a newspaper over the lines. When the girls came in we took an instant dislike to them, but we were still eager to play our little trick on them. When we offered them a couple of ‘lines’ they were extremely enthusiastic. We carefully lifted the newspaper and gave the first girl a rolled-up dollar bill. She lowered her head to the lines, took a deep snort and couldn’t believe nothing went up her nose. She complained that she’d been overdoing cocaine recently but enthusiastically continued her attempts at getting a pencil line up her nose. We finally had to call it off because she just didn’t get it. After we explained the joke they left quickly.
Tony Visconti
Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy

While in New York, Bowie recorded and performed with John Cale and Blondie’s keyboard player Jimmy Destri. He socialised with Talking Heads’ David Byrne, and accompanied Cale to Roxy Music’s 29 March show at the New York Palladium.

He often visited nightspots including CBGBs, the Mudd Club and Hurrah, and was photographed with the Ramones at an aftershow party held at the Mudd Club on 9 March.

I think Tony and I would both agree that we didn’t take enough care mixing. This had a lot to do with my being distracted by personal events and I think Tony lost heart a little as it never came together as easily as Low and “Heroes” had. I’d still maintain, though, that there are a number of really important ideas on Lodger.
David Bowie
Uncut, April 2001