Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tin Machine

Tin Machine (1989)

Studs: Baby Can Dance, Amazing
Duds: Video Crime, Crack City


Tin Machine II (1991)

Studs: You Belong in Rock N’ Roll, If There is Something
Duds: Schtateside, Sorry


VERDICT: I’m not a Tin Machine fan. Let’s be loud and clear about that right now, and apologies in advance to those who do enjoy it on the level it was intended. Within my layers of cynicism and bitterness I don’t even consider this outfit to be components of the real Bowie catalogue. They are not David Bowie albums (much to the dismay of Reeves Gabrels) and considering we were smashed about the head at the time: this is a band effort/a collaborative affair/I’m with the boys, or as Bowie’s accompanying surly personality declared “Fuck you I’m in Tin Machine”, it is enough of a Bowie album(s) to at least mention in this albeit abridged Discography roundup. So, for all it’s faults Tin Machine was a much needed artistic enema in 1989 as Bowie’s rock-star career had come to a shuddering halt after Never Let Me Down and the ridiculous Spinal Tap-sized laughing stock that was the Glass Spider fiasco. To call it mostly awful is a trifle harsh (there are some decent rocking moments), although it has not aged well. Just listen to the first track off their first album and you’ll see what I mean. This track encapsulates just about everything Tin Machine were about in it’s 6 gruelling minutes. What starts out as quite an interesting track disintegrates into a loud, pointless “rock out” with some of the most embarrassingly awful lead guitar you’re ever likely to hear. The drums, like Hunt Sales’ personality, are horribly loud and obnoxious and when listening to this (the first album particularly) I can’t help but think here are four suited-up gents getting all rather rowdy in the basement before going back upstairs to their sandstone mansions, sipping their kool-aid and watering pot plants. Bowie had wrested back control by the somewhat more polished second (and final) album, but they were trying so hard to prove the point the band was democratic they even included a couple of unlistenable Hunt Sales tunes on the second side. For a career that was built on violently changing direction, Tin Machine was no different. Bowie needed to get this out of his system and to clear his mind (and his record company) before another stab at a commercial albeit artier sound.

NEXT: “Putting on the Black Tie (Again)…”

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