First Impressions 3: Tin Machine II

Tin Machine (1991)

[First impressions of albums bought in my September 2021 spree]

This was not the US cover
I've always had a bit of soft spot for Tin Machine, ever since I saw their live promo film in the cinema as a supporting feature to some film and really liked it (although the girl I was with was deeply unimpressed). At the time, it was a very deliberate break with Bowie's tradition and of course I bought that first album straight away. So I suppose it tells you everything you need to know about the extent of my alleged soft spot that I didn't buy Tin Machine II until (ahem) thirty years later. Was it worth the wait?

Well, I'd hate to leave my single reader in suspense, so let me say straight away: no. It's never going to be one of my favourite albums; it's not even one going to be one of my favourite albums of 1991.

Still, it's not a total loss. It's got the same feeling as too many of Bowie's later albums, of trying a bit too hard to get something new, pulling seemingly disparate elements together without quite making them gel, and forgetting the tunes, but there's plenty of interesting moments. I could do with fewer of Reeves Gabrels' "far out" (i.e. tuneless) solos, but the rhythm section is rock solid and it's all very cleanly produced. I do find the juxtaposition of straight-ahead rock and Bowie's unique, very mannered phrasing a little jarring, but it's interesting to note that when Hunt Sales sings (e.g. on "Stateside"), it fits the style of music better but instantly becomes more generic

Any standout tracks on first listen? "Amlapura" strikes me the most, more for being a decent Bowie track instead of a Bowie-playing-at-rock track. "Sorry" works well as an overall performance, with the various parts coming together well. I'm sure other tracks will emerge when (if?) I listen to the album more, as there's plenty of interesting moments. Absolutely non-essential but nice to have all the same.

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