The title track to Prince‘s 1981 album, “Controversy” was the artist hitting back at various speculations surrounding him at the time. The track talks about race, sexuality, religion and even includes an entire prayer in the middle of it which, ironically and amusingly, caused some controversy. And although the lyrics and the themes are worthy of note here, most importantly it’s just a really good song with a cool, funky beat and one of the catchiest hooks on the album.
Our Song Of The Day for today is “Funk Fujiyama”, a funky Japanese tune released in 1989 by Kome Kome Club, one of the only bands in Japan who tackled soul and funk with great success back in the day. The song is quite simply tons of fun and it’s impossible not to love it right away with its bouncy rhythm and those energetic vocals plus the band itself is a riot when playing live. Gamers might remember the track from Youtuber JewWario‘s “You Can Play This” reviews.
One of the very best tracks to come out of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club‘s 2010 album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo was “Long Way Down”, a slower track with a bittersweet vibe which builds beautifully. It’s dark and potentially a little depressing but there’s also a dash of hope in there which makes the song upbeat enough that, in the end, it comes off as surprisingly inspiring. Brilliant track.
Formed in 1988, Tin Machine was a rock band fronted by David Bowie with Reeves Gabrels on guitar, Tony Sales on bass and Hunt Sales on drums. The project was a way for Bowie to get back to basics with a more raw sound and put his jamming sessions with Gabrels to good use.
The band released their debut, self-titled album in ’89 along with four singles. They would make one other album after that before Bowie returned to his solo work.
How did this debut fare?
The opening track, “Heaven’s In Here”, boasts a very bluesy rhythm and riff throughout and it builds to some excellent guitar solos. It’s refreshing to hear Bowie giving so much freedom to a band and serving as simply the frontman, for once. Hard not to move your feet to this one. The title song “Tin Machine” is a faster-paced punk track that’s a hell of a lot of fun. It was the third single to be released from the album.
“Prisoner Of Love” is next and it’s a slightly darker track that’s also slightly more glam and, by extension, more Bowie. It’s a beautiful song with a catchy hook, great lyrics and first class work from the entire band who already prove themselves to be pretty damn awesome. “Crack City”, like “Heaven’s In Here”, really feels like a 70’s song. It’s very much a track built for live performances with its loud chorus and its buckets of swagger and energy. Expect more fab solos from Gabrels and a bit of a soul vibe throughout as well.
“I Can’t Read” follows and this one feels much more playful yet experimental, almost improvisational even. The screeching guitars are all over the place as the rest of the band figures out the track little by little. It’s not the catchiest of the lot but it still carries that demo-esque raw energy the project promised plus Bowie seems to play a kind of desperate character here, which is entertaining.
You simply can’t go wrong with “Under The God”: it’s the first single to be released from the album and it’s a cracker. Written by Bowie, this is a rocky, punky track worthy of Iggy & The Stooges. With its best-screamed chorus and its bluesy hook, it’s easily one of the best tracks from the band, and that’s saying a lot. Next is “Amazing”, a more chilled-out song with a timeless quality to it. It taps into a vintage rock sensibility which makes it feel like a cover of an old, classic track despite being original. Pretty amazing, indeed.
Speaking of covers, next we have “Working Class Hero”, a cover of one of John Lennon‘s most well-known tracks and one of Bowie’s favourites from the artist. The band does a good job at doing something different with it, not simply imitating the original. This version’s much more dancy and upbeat. While it’s basically impossible to outdo Lennon’s own, this is given the Tin Machine treatment and it works well both as a cover of a classic and as a song from Bowie’s band.
“Bus Stop” opens with a punk riff and, in fact, it feels like a song you could have seen the likes of The Clash come up with. A Joe Strummer cover of this one would have been cool to hear. Gotta love how short and sweet this song is, makes it just perfect. A country version of the track also exists but it doesn’t beat the one described above. Up next is “Pretty Thing” and it’s an erratically-rhythmed rock song with loads of energy and Bowie breaking up the constant beat with his vocals much like John Lennon does in “Cold Turkey”. It’s yet another terrific, fast-paced song which must have kicked ass live.
“Video Crime” is a slower, bluesier track with hip-hop-style vocals and, while it’s a good song with some superb guitar work, you could see a punk version of this one giving it a welcome extra layer of attitude, though you might then miss out on some of Gabrels’ best solos from this album. “Run” has more of a Stranglers vibe to it with the darker toned riffs and moodier vocals. Armed with a catchy chorus, genial solos, some clever breaks and fantastic vocal work from Bowie, this is easily one of Tin Machine’s finest.
“Sacrifice Yourself” is another live-friendly anthem with a faster rhythm and an ingenious mix of hard rock, soul and blues. It’s a short one but it makes for two extremely entertaining minutes. Final track “Baby Can Dance” feels very much like a Bowie effort and, indeed, he wrote this one which bears his trademark unexpected key changes and experimental vocal work. It’s a good choice to end the album on as it leaves us on a high note with its memorable chorus and epic scale. It’s the kind of big finish Bowie usually avoids but he has a ball with it here.
What can I say about Tin Machine’s debut album except…
If Bowie’s core plan for this band project was to get back to basics and deliver an incredibly fun rock album which would showcase his collaborators’ talents then his plan certainly worked out. But Tin Machine feels more than just an enjoyable side project, it’s an experiment that, as a whole, doesn’t feel so much experimental as it does fundamental. It’s a homage to different styles of rock n’ roll from a group of guys who can deliver original work which still feels timeless and classic to this day.
Tin Machine gets a very high 4 Ziggies out of 5 from us and we recommend it as a must for any Bowie or rock fan.
The first single to be released from David Bowie-led rock band Tin Machine‘s self-titled debut album, “Under The God” was a fast-paced bluesy/punky track with loads of attitude both in the lyrics and the music. It’s one of the best songs on the album and its video was directed by Julien Temple. Quite simply a kickass tune.
Song titles don’t come much better than Rocket From The Crypt‘s “Dick On A Dog”, from their 1998 album RFTC. Though the latter was not their most popular album and, in fact, it led to the band putting out less and less records, it had some good songs in it including this track which may sound silly but is also a genuinely good rock tune with plenty of attitude. It’s playful enough to be a lot of fun and catchy enough to make you wanna sing the words “it’s like a dick on a dog!” as loud as you possibly can.
The first single to be released from The B-52’s 1983 album Whammy!, “Legal Tender” was a hit for the band with Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson sharing vocals on it. The New Wave synth-led track was as fun as you’d expect from those guys and so was the colourful video. It’s, quite simply, irresistible.