Tin Machine II

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Tin Machine II
The European album cover, showing 4 greek Koroi statues and the name of the band
The unedited European album cover
Studio album by Tin Machine
Released 2 September 1991 (1991-09-02)
Recorded Sydney October 1989 (1989-10) – December 1989 (1989-12); Los Angeles, March 1991 (1991-03)
Genre Rock, hard rock
Length 49:07
Label Victory Music
Producer Tin Machine, Tim Palmer, Hugh Padgham
Tin Machine chronology
Tin Machine
(1989)
Tin Machine II
(1991)
Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby
(1992)
David Bowie chronology
Sound + Vision
(1989)
Tin Machine II
(1991)
Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby
(1992)
Tin Machine II US Album Cover
The US album cover, with the Kouroi's penises airbrushed out

Tin Machine II is an album by Tin Machine, originally released by Victory Music in 1991.

Recording[edit]

The band reconvened following their 1989 tour, recording most of the album[1] before taking a rest while David Bowie conducted his solo Sound+Vision Tour and filmed The Linguini Incident.

In describing this album, Reeves Gabrels said "this album is as aggressive as the first one, but the songs are more melodic. Last time, we were screaming at the world. This time, I think, they're all love songs in a strange kind of way."[2] Reeves joked that his playing style was something his friends called "modal chromaticism, which is 'any note you want as long as you end on a right note.'"[3]

Gabrels later stated that at the time he was deeply into Nine Inch Nails' album Pretty Hate Machine and was looking for an industrial edge to his own guitar work for the album. Ultimately (after recording track after track of guitar noise), he found a "shard of guitar noise" that he liked and used it on the album track "Shopping for Girls,"[4] a song about child prostitution in Thailand.[3] Bowie said of the track:

That song actually came out of an investigative magazine article that Reeves' wife wrote on child prostitution around the world. And one of the places she went to was Thailand. Reeves had the rather unsavory job of hiring the children and then getting them out of the brothels to Sara, who could then interview them. We were just talking about those experiences one night. And I've also been in Thailand and witnessed the same kind of thing. The actual approach of how to write the song was quite devastating. 'Cause it was so easy to slip into sensationalism. I tried all kinds of ways of approaching it . . . the moral point of view . . .and I just ended up doing it straight narrative. That seems to make it stronger than any other approach.[5]

"If There Is Something" (a Roxy Music cover) was originally recorded during the sessions for the first Tin Machine album but didn't come out satisfactorily, so it was shelved until this album.[5]

The track "Goodbye Mr. Ed" was started as a jam the band used to tune up one day. Tony Hunt recalled "We all came back from lunch and David had written a whole sheet of lyrics for it, and then he put the vocal on later with the melody." Bowie described the meaning of the song this way:

[The song] is very much juxtaposing lines which really shouldn't fit, free-association around the idea of 'bye-bye, '50s America.' New York once belonged to the Manahattos - a tribe that used to have that bit of land before it became Manhattan. That was the first real, solid image I had ... I thought, 'That's what this song's about.'[3]

The group signed to Victory Music[6] and added three further tracks in Los Angeles, with Hugh Padgham (producer of Bowie's 1984 album Tonight) overseeing the song "One Shot". The album was issued in September 1991. Hunt Sales took lead vocals on two tracks: "Stateside" and "Sorry."[7]

The song "Betty Wrong" featured in the film "The Crossing" (1990).

Album cover censorship[edit]

For the American release of the album, the cover was airbrushed to remove the genitalia of the Kouroi statues.[5] "Even Canada has the original cover," Bowie said, "Only in America..."[8] Bowie floated the idea of allowing American album-buyers to send away to the record company for the genitalia that were struck from their version of the cover, but the label balked. He said "then [the fans] could paste them back on. But the label freaked out at the idea. Sending genitals through the mail is a serious offense."[5]

Release and reviews[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[9]
Blender 1/5 stars[10]
Entertainment Weekly C[11]
Los Angeles Times Positive[12]
Q 3/5 stars[13]

Less successful than the band's debut album, Tin Machine II peaked at No. 23 in the UK and No. 126 in the USA. It received generally poor reviews on release,[10][13] although it achieved success on the Modern Rock chart in the USA, where "Baby Universal" reached No. 21, and "One Shot" became an even bigger hit, reaching No. 3. Q magazine, in a review that famously stated on the cover the question "Are Tin Machine Crap?" felt that this album didn't "quite match up to their wonderfully overwrought but sadly under bought debut," while praising such individual tracks such as "If There Was Something," "You Belong in Rock 'n' Roll" and "Shopping for Girls."[13] There were positive reviews, with one reviewer finding the album "a return to raw form" and called it "the best music Bowie's released since 1980s Scary Monsters",[7] while another found the album "well-conceived and well-executed", only lamenting that it had perhaps been released before radio listeners were ready to hear it.[9] Yet another critic praised Gabrels' guitar work as "two parts Robert Fripp, one part Eddie Van Halen and one part speeding ambulance" in a review that also praised the album.[14] In 2010, Uncut magazine placed the album on their list of 50 Great Lost Albums (their list of great albums not currently available for purchase), calling the album "extraordinary".[15]

In the years after the album's release, some critics have suggested that the album was "unjustly" harshly reviewed at the time of its release.[16][17]

The band supported the album with a seven-month tour called the "It's My Life Tour."

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels except where noted.

  1. "Baby Universal" – 3:18
  2. "One Shot" – 5:11
  3. "You Belong in Rock n' Roll" – 4:07
  4. "If There Is Something" (Bryan Ferry) – 4:45
  5. "Amlapura" – 3:46
  6. "Betty Wrong" – 3:48
  7. "You Can't Talk" – 3:09
  8. "Stateside" (Bowie, Hunt Sales) – 5:38
  9. "Shopping for Girls" – 3:44
  10. "A Big Hurt" (Bowie) – 3:40
  11. "Sorry" (H. Sales) – 3:29
  12. "Goodbye Mr. Ed" (Bowie, H. Sales, Tony Sales) – 3:24
  13. "Hammerhead" (hidden track) (Bowie, H. Sales) – 0:57

"Hammerhead", a short instrumental, is an unlisted track and an edit from the longer vocal version that was issued as the B-side for the single release of "You Belong in Rock 'n' Roll".

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1991 Norway's album Charts 14
1991 UK album charts 23[18]
1991 US Billboard 200 126[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Du Noyer, Paul (April 1990), David Bowie (Interview), Q magazine: 60–70 
  2. ^ Rock 'n Roll notes, Rolling Stone magazine, 1991 
  3. ^ a b c Resnicoff, Matt (September 1991), Tin Machine's Progression of Perversions, Musician magazine (155): 46–52, 94–95 
  4. ^ "Changes 2.1" by Joe Gore, Guitar Player magazine, June 1997, pp 45-58
  5. ^ a b c d di Perna, Alan (1991), Ballad of the Tin Men, Creem 2 (1): 50–59 
  6. ^ Varga, George (1–7 January 1992), David Bowie Music Interview, The Star Entertainment Weekly (Lynnwood, WA) 2 (5): 2,10 
  7. ^ a b Appleford, Steve (1991), Tin Machine II Review, Creem magazine 2 (1): 59 
  8. ^ "Beaming Bowie excited about current direction of his life, music" by Patrick MacDonald, The Seattle Times, 20 December 1991
  9. ^ a b http://www.allmusic.com/album/r20239
  10. ^ a b http://www.blender.com/guide/back-catalogue/53982/tin-machine-ii.html
  11. ^ Tin Machine II Review, retrieved 8 January 2013 
  12. ^ Pareles, Jon (1 September 2013), RECORDINGS VIEW; David Bowie Makes News With Noise, Los Angeles Times, retrieved 29 October 2013 
  13. ^ a b c "Tin Machine II Album Review" by Adrian Deevoy, Q Magazine, October 1991, page 105
  14. ^ "Bowie's newest album rocks" by John Pareles for the New York Times, Journal American, 1991
  15. ^ Uncut's 50 Greatest Lost Albums, NME, retrieved 8 January 2013 
  16. ^ Sprague, David (February 1997), After a decade of missteps, David Bowie reinvents himself again ... and this time he's on target, Pulse! magazine (156): 34–37, 72–73 
  17. ^ Pond, Steve (March 1997), Beyond Bowie, Live magazine: 38–41, 93 
  18. ^ Official Charts: Tin Machine, retrieved 23 May 2013 
  19. ^ Billboard Artists: Tin Machine, retrieved 24 May 2013