Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Tin Machine II!


Greetings, Glancers! Last time out I quite enjoyed Bowie’s Tin Machine debut – a band which promoted a much heavier sound than most of what Bowie had released until that point. Lets hope this is more of the same, or an improvement. Now that I know a little more about the band after going in bare-back last time, I have been looking forward to getting to grips with this one. Lets do this.

Baby Universal‘ baby baby baby, ssshhhwung baby baby. Big drums. More babies. Bowie. It’s not quite as heavy as the previous album but definitely in the traditional rock vein, with a slight industrial slant, particularly in the guitar sustain. The drums are particularly frantic. The vocals are trad. Bowie. Good opening track, not great, not bad.

One Shot‘ sounds very much like the opening of a later My Vitriol track. Softer, yet mainstream melodies and structure like the first track. This one evokes 80s images in my head. The guitar solo breaches mainstream barriers. Like the opener, I feel that this would appeal to a wider audience than much of Bowie’s solo stuff thanks to the easy melodies, but they’re not exactly hits with huge hooks. An extended drum and guitar climax bonanza.

You Belong In Rock And Roll‘ has an ominous throbbing bass and beat before the drums kick in and make it sound like a power ballad. There’s still a sinister undercurrent in the tone. Bowie goes low with his verse vocals to heighten the atmosphere. The chorus raises the vocals moderately and offers some interesting dissonant instrumentation.

If There Was Something‘ is a Roxy Music cover. I don’t think I know the original, but then I was never a fan of them. It moves at a fair lick and has some more scorching guitar twiddling, but it isn’t the heaviest or most adventurous. It’s fun if a little inconsequential, but I don’t mind it.

Amlapura‘ continues the ‘not quite hard rock’ approach, with an acoustic intro backed by distant electric soloing. The verse guitars remind me of Zep’s Tangerine. The structure and vocals leave a dreamy trail. The song gets a little heavier, a little dreamier after the first chorus. It gets a little too repetitive towards the end but it’s short enough that we can overlook this.

Betty Wrong‘ feels 80s again, thanks to that bass and sax. It has a touch of that 80s atmosphere I’m always going on about. The riffs and melodies don’t seem to match, giving a nice disconnected twist. The chorus is pure pop, in a good way. It’s another brief track. It’s been a while since I listened to the first album but I remember it being much heavier than everything here. Nice closing solo to fade out.

You Can’t Talk‘ starts out with some scratchy shredding and rumbling drums before Bowie begins rapping or something. This is much more experimental and is quite amusing. It doesn’t work but it certainly isn’t crap. Much of it is enjoyable and interesting.

Stateside‘ sounds like a bad 80s shower scene, with someone (male or female) perving on someone (male or female). Or maybe an advert for chocolate. Is that Bowie singing? Doesn’t sound like it. No, he’s on backing duty here. It’s a bit slow and droopy. Of course the lyrics mirror this, seems satirical. And of course they then throw in a face-melter. Of course the weakest song so far would be the longest.

Shopping For Girls‘ merges acoustic with electric lead lines – a little bit of Iron Maiden plagiarism going on?  There’s the 80s atmosphere again. Melodies okay, a little dull but singable.

A Big Hurt‘ brings the metal. A crunching, high volume opening bombast followed by thrash style chugging and a Nirvana esque fuzz rhythms attack. Like many Bowie tracks it feels at first listen like it’s all over the place, but a quick clearing of the mind and focus finds consistency and form.

Sorry‘ opens with a promising ascending series of chords and unearthly sensual brass. Bowie does a great job with the vocals and the whole thing is highly charged with feeling.

Goodbye Mr Ed‘ is a name I feel I’ve heard before. It’s the closing track as I understand the next song is an instrumental hidden track. There’s a sense of positive energy in this one, but it’s quite tame rock musically.

Hammerhead‘ is a bit of fast paced jamming, drums and guitars and sex all shredding wildly together – feels like it could have been an intro to something.

I’d need to listen to both Tin Machine albums again to be sure, but my first thoughts are that this is a step down. It’s still good and there are a few songs I’d like to delve into deeper, but it also doesn’t feel as aggressive. Maybe there was a backlash to the first album and they decided to tone it down? I don’t see Bowie giving in to such pressures. Still, it’s an okay album which I understand may be divisive, though this time around I would say it’s not heavy enough to appeal to the metal or industrial crowd and too heavy or chaotic for traditional Bowie fans.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: You Belong In Rock N Roll. Amlapura. Betty Wrong. Sorry.

Nightman Listens To Tin Machine/David Bowie!

Tin Machine (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Don’t worry, this isn’t a new series, it’s merely a continuation of the Bowie marathon. I didn’t realise or fully appreciate that Tin Machine was a separate entity from Bowie – I thought it was just another persona like Ziggy or The Thin White Duke or Mathilda Twinklegrunt or whatever. So Tin Machine was more like a side-project – they only made two albums, in between Bowie’s last solo 80s release and first 90s solo release. I may as well cover them. I’ve no idea what sound they have – did he give in and go 80s metal? The name sounds industrial so maybe it’s a mixture of guitars and electronica. It’s Bowie, so who the hell knows. Well, you probably know – I’m about to find out.

Heaven’s In Here: Okay, an actual phat riff. It’s a little bluesy, it actual has a tin sound, the vocals feel like a 50s vocal group, then it goes a little Caribbean. That’s all before the verse starts. That driving riff and bass strives to keep it grounded as Blues rock. Bowie’s vocals are mostly toned down, not going overboard with highs or operatics. The riff’s good, but maybe not good enough to sustain the song for six minutes. There’s other stuff going on so it doesn’t get overly repetitive. Some shouts come towards the end, some funky distorted guitar play and a fantastic closing solo, some great smacking drums as the whole thing collapses, not much in the way of melody.

Tin Machine: Very metal, a crashing intro. This gives way to a fast paced song which reminds me of the original Thinking About You by Radiohead. The vocals are very Ian Curtis. I know I’ll get heat for this, but Bowie’s vocals just don’t lend themselves to heavy music – rock, metal. Too smooth and overwrought. This is quite fun, but I’d have preferred a bit of a growl in the vocals.

Prisoner Of Love: A more traditional chord intro with a nice vibe. Good guitar line, much more melodic. The vocals suit this sound more closely. The extended chorus is half good, half okay, but the verses are great. I like the underlying guitar work with repeats and wavers and loops under the surface.

Crack City: I am Iron Man? I was only joking, and then the chord sequence comes in and I’m not so sure. There’s surely some ripping off here, right? That and Wild Thing. Assholes with buttholes for their brains? Is he making fun of metal here? Or just the drugs involved. A more aggressive edge to the vocals, again it doesn’t quite work, but he’s really going for it here.

I Can’t Read: More tin drums and distortion and a simple yet potent riff. The riff breaks out and gets better. Cool dark atmosphere, and another much more suited to Bowie’s voice. I think the anti-melodic approach works well here – it’s purposefully robotic. Then the chorus is like an anti-anthem with pop sweetness. Very good. Nice screams and another collapse at the end, though we don’t need the sex noises.

Under The God: Feels like a straightforwards rock song. Then the riff comes in and it’s a little samey to ones which have come already, but it doesn’t last. Great lyrics from what I can pick up, good chorus, good backing vocals, good everything. It there’s any complaint, it probably could have been condensed to a punchier 3 minutes.

Amazing: A little bit of Led Zep now? It as a full sound, light staccato guitar bursts and surging solo lines. It’s very sweet, and another good one.

Working Class Hero: We know this one of course, but it’s a bombastic and different intro. Most covers of this I’ve heard stay close to the original. This is a little more funky. The original is far from a favourite of mine so most covers don’t do it for me.

Bus Stop: Another fast rocking intro. Feels quite punk, though softer. Not a fan of the accent. I would have guessed this was another cover of a punk song I haven’t heard – I don’t think it is.

Pretty Thing: A strange voice floats in, quickly joined by fast biting chords in the vein of more punk bands. It’s fast, not quite chaotic, the pauses keep it fresh. It changes pace and tone midway through, become more of a loose, freestyle instrumental.

Video Crime: It’s cool how modern this sounds for something made in 89. If anything, it’s Bowie’s vocals which date it purely because when I think of Bowie, I think 70s/80s. The guitars could be from any decade since the 80s. This song is a little too slow and start/stop, but the refrains are catchy. Great drums throughout.

Run: A moderately more pop sound for the intro, but yet again one with an atmospheric tone. I love that dual riff and Bowie’s vocals suit the verse melodies to a T. The chorus pays off too. The second half doesn’t have the same immediate impact but it does get more rocking towards the end.

Sacrifice Yourself: Stretching guitars, thumping drums, and an old-fashioned rock beat brought up to date with the surrounding chaos. This one is fun, more shouted vocals, but maybe a little too streamlined and simple. Short too.

Baby Can Dance: A long intro with plenty of guitar distortion and howls and assorted beats. A catchy refrain holds it together. The lyrics seem silly. A long middle section with lots of clashing noise. An okay song to close the album, not the best.

It turns out this one wasn’t well received upon release. I can only assume critics and fanboys were more used to the fawning intellect and electro and glam rather than the harsher, more punk-based songs, more in your face display here. That’s their loss. This has been one of my favourite Bowie listens thus far, the heavier songs and more metal approach suiting my traditional tastes. Plus there was hardly a piano or horn in sight, something which usually brings Bowie’s songs down for me. The album as a whole I can see myself listening to again given that I thoroughly enjoyed many of the songs – that usually means the ones I didn’t like as much will increase in my estimation.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Tin Machine!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Prisoner Of Love. Crack City. I Can’t Read. Under The God. Amazing. Run.