Sunday, January 20, 2013
David Bowie: "Tin Machine II"
But really if you think about an album that is still widely dismissed that deserves a far better fate, it's "Tin Machine II". Fans and critics were somewhat bemused by Bowie's abandonment of the bloated stadium-rock of the "Never Let Me Down" period for a stripped-down, no frills "i'm one of the band" rock approach on the first Tin Machine album. Fans gave it a chance and there was a decent promotional push, but none of the material was particularly commercial. It wasn't a bad album, and it was nice to see a fresh direction from Bowie, but it wasn't a knockout.
Given the relative failure of "Tin Machine", it's perhaps surprising a sequel ever saw the light of day. "Tin Machine II" is far better. Partly due to record company issues, the album really never had a chance. It was scoffed at and ignored by the press, and folks - many of whom probably never really bothered to listen to it - named it a disaster. It was largely ignored by the public and is current out of print and unavailable for purchase.
A true shame. Minus the 2 tracks sung by Hunt Sales, "Stateside" and "Sorry", this is a classic Bowie album. If it had been released under the name David Bowie and given another title, maybe it would have fared better. It opens with a killer trio of originals, all of which were singles: "Baby Universal", "One Shot" and the wonderfully off-kilter "You Belong in Rock n' Roll". Then a white hot cover of Roxy Music's "If There is Something". The rest of the album is mostly very strong as well, with Reeves Gabrels' guitar work interesting throughout. Some should-be Bowie classics here - like why isn't "Shopping for Girls" regarded alongside his best work? It's tremendous.
Give it another listen with a fresh ear. It stands up remarkably well 22 years later. Hopefully Bowie's return to the music scene will lead to a fresh look at his back catalog, and this criminally underrated gem will get another chance.