David Bowie (Tin Machine): “Tin Machine II” (1991)
Bowie’s second foray with Tin Machine finds the first album’s bombast tempered with a bit more melodicism this time
around. Hugh Padgam, Bowie’s producer on “Tonight”, steps in and gives the album his characteristic sheen, of which I’ll
admit I am a big fan, and so much prefer the sound of this album to the first. That said, it also serves to make the album
feel more like a hard-rocking take on “Tonight”-era Bowie than a product of Tin Machine the band.
Which, honestly, I don’t mind. Hunt Sales steps up to take lead vocals — and songwriting credit — on two songs, the blues-
y “Stateside” and the sorta-power ballad “Sorry”. And, honestly, as kinda-catchy as they are, they are serious lowpoints for
the album and would have been better left as B-sides. The album is best when Bowie and Gabrels are in charge, particularly
“Baby Universal”, the strongest track on the album, IMO.
All that aside, I’ve listenend to the album three or four times now and, as much as I basically enjoy it, few of the tracks
leave any lasting impression on me. I couldn’t hum you even a bar of songs like “Shopping for GIrls” or “One Shot.” Not
that they’re bad songs; they just seem to evaporate from my memory after each listen. (Which, unfortunately can’t be said
for the two Sales tunes.) The one cover on the album, Bryan Ferry’s “If There Is Something”, is also a bit of a slog for me
(as is Ferry’s original, so it could be I just don’t ike the song).
So, while Tin Machine began as a wonderful experiment, it seems to overstay its welcome before this second outing is even
done playing. Gabrels is really the big takeaway from this era of Bowie’s career, as is Bowie’s shaking off his mainstream
success and once again challenging himself to do something different. Tin Machine is a wonderful thing that needed to
happen, but I admit that, as much as I did enjoy this album, I’m not unhappy seeing Bowie move on to the next phase in