Tin Machine – Tin Machine (1989): Review

tin machine

Produced by Tin Machine and Tim Palmer
Label – EMI

Why, oh why ? David Bowie was one of the most gifted and outstanding artists to have appeared in the album charts over six decades. With groundbreaking masterpieces like “Hunky Dory” and “Ziggy Stardust” amongst his recording resume, fans must have wondered what result his new re-incarnation as leader of heavy duty art rock band Tin Machine would produce. Employing the services of guitarist Reeves Gabrels who had appeared on his “Lodger” album in 1979, and bass and drums provided by Tony and Hunt Sales, who had played on a couple of Iggy Pop albums from the mid 70s, one would have assumed that as a member of a full time band, Bowie would have begun to move away from the creative trough he had slipped into, judged by the decreasing level of quality of his 80s albums.

The result of the collaboration is unfortunately mainly dire. With sweeping banks of guitar feedback, and furiously loud, muddy rhythms, the tunes (if there are any) take back stage. It’s a cacophony of ancient riffs,with instrumentation turned up to eleven and then fed through the old valve amps trapped in refrigerators. It is cumbersome and disjointed, and save a couple of songs (“Heavens In Here”, “Prisoner Of Love”, and “Under The God”) is totally tuneless. Apparently some die hard’s bought “Tin Machine 2”. I haven’t heard it. Even Bowie conceded that the album might be “not accessible” to fans. “I guess it’s not as obviously melodic as one would think it would probably be [for a Bowie album].”

A very sorry swamp of a record.


“Heaven’s in Here” (David Bowie) – 6:01
“Tin Machine” (Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, Hunt Sales, Tony Sales) – 3:34
“Prisoner of Love” (Bowie, Gabrels, H. Sales, T. Sales) – 4:50
“Crack City” (Bowie) – 4:36
“I Can’t Read” (Bowie, Gabrels) – 4:54
“Under the God” (Bowie) – 4:06
“Amazing” (Bowie, Gabrels) – 3:06
“Working Class Hero” (John Lennon) – 4:38
“Bus Stop” (Bowie, Gabrels) – 1:41
“Pretty Thing” (Bowie) – 4:39
“Video Crime” (Bowie, H. Sales, T. Sales) – 3:52
“Baby Can Dance” (Bowie) – 4:57

4 responses to “Tin Machine – Tin Machine (1989): Review

    • ha, my thoughts indeed. Never “got” why Paul Weller dissolved the best band in the UK at the time and started this tepid collaboration with a bloke from a really bad “mock mod” band. They did a few good singles, but were heavily overrated due to Weller’s idolised status.

  1. This fantastic album combines branca-esque no-wave with noise art-rock ala Mission of Burma and filled with wild vocal energy from Bowie.
    I loved this one out of the box!
    I totally dislike the Bowie-era the blogger favors.
    Bowie in Berlin with Eno heavily influenced post-punk and stand as his Pinnacle of achievement. I don’t care for the glam rock stuff.
    Back to Tin Machine. This record came out a few years before grunge and Loveless. Bowie saw the future–again.

    • We agree to disagree, and of course opinion is subjective, but I’ll stick with my view that Bowie hardly put a foot wrong during the 70s, and “Hunky Dory” will always be in my top ten albums of all time.

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