I Can’t Read – Tin Machine

1989 another summer. Sound of the funky drummer. DB had emerged from his own Glass Spider Silk Spinner caked in the sad clown make up of a decade where he’s been so invested in reinventing himself and pushing the boundaries of what constitutes a rock and roll show, he’d forgotten that rock and or roll were the primary ingredients.

32 years ago David Bowie gave the game away that he did (in fact) have access to a time machine. It’s right there in the band name Maaan. Hidden in plain sight. Not convinced? Buckle up Buttercup. We’re going inta’ Stella…

Who dare criticise the Thin White Duke? I’m your Huckleberry. Let’s Dance.

*Editorial insert from our ‘78 theology correspondent in the field* PostPunkMonk took me to task yesterday for a cheap Tin Machine dig when discussing which part of Bowie’s output fans (or detractors) consider the bald spot. He’s quite right. Tin Machine are not even close to bad. (Neither was Never Let Me Down in my opinion) in fact that’s the point of this post. This album kicks Arses. Multiple arses. Quite right!

These days there’s been an appraisal of all of Zavid’s stuff. These days The Buddha of Suburbia is considered ambient soundtrack gold… Stay on target! Listen to the first Tin Machine album and it’ll rock you to your core. Opening with the magnificent Heaven’s In Here and diving into the exclusive club of Band/Song/Album-Title that Motörhead, Maiden and Sabbath all belong to, it’s a great way to set the stall out. Under The God is a prophetic belter of a rock anthem. It’s almost pre-grunge it’s so post-punk. It’s absolutely ruddy brilliant and it could’ve been written about 2021Here it is though! I Can’t Read is where he really slips up.

“I can’t read and I can’t write down, I don’t know a book from countdown”

Obviously a lyric about sitting in front of the TV rather than reading books. Countdown is a U.K. TV show of some renown. It’s a genteel daytime TV quiz show designed to tickle the brain and make idle intelligentsia feel cosy. It’s also a hit with students. The mix of noggin’ teasers and mathematics has a subtle charm that tricks you into thinking you’re not wasting the day away. It’s been on TV every week since 1982, so while suspicious, it seems a little early to call out David as a flouncy flamin’ time traveler just yet.

“Money goes to money heaven, Bodies go to body hell, I just cough, catch the chase”

Hang on. After Countdown on every weekday is The Chase. It’s only been on air since 2009. That’s twenty years after the hard rock reboot of Tin Machine and considerably lower on the IQ scale than Countdown. It’s just general knowledge and multiple choices. The Doctor will see you now.

“Switch the channel watch the police car”

Police Interceptors really is a brain dead slack jawed reality show. Bodycam TV for TV dinners. Slop for the bootlickers. Shite. He couldn’t possibly be referring to COPS. He must mean the show that aired in 2008.

He’s zinging around the TV schedules and the world of celebrity now. Trapped in the I Love Lucy Theory of airwaves and aerials and signals from deep space. Organic Echos… (wrong Bowie?)

“When you see a famous smile, No matter where you run your mile, To be right in that photograph, Andy where’s my fifteen minutes”

The 60’s right there. He’s got previous with Andy Warhol (as in Holes) before. Way back when everything was Hunky Dory.

“I can’t read shit anymore, I just sit back and ignore, I just can’t get it right, can’t get it right, I can’t read shit I can’t read shit”

He’s on the internet. Clearly. Possibly reading yesterday’s SFTD post. Maybe. I’m telling you. He is tickling the backs of our radiators right now trying to reset the time line. Shouting at us through the book shelves. Alright alright alright. How else do you explain the disappearance of the Murder Hornets?

The song did make it into the regular DB timeline. In ‘97. David recorded a version that was used in the film The Ice Storm and it appeared on Is It Any Wonder? Is it snowing in space?

Of course, I know he’s gone. We all miss him. Something happened on the day he died. We all felt the shift of the Earths axis. Things ain’t been the same around here since. But tucked at the back of a freezer somewhere, there’s some space time Tupperware. Reappraise Tin Machine. Check out the scene you missed over there while the press had you looking the other way. It’s all preserved. For all time. On compact disc.

Still, I must be honest with you. It rankles a little when I see adverts and posters these days for Tim Minchin gigs. It doesn’t seem right that they would reform without him.

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5 thoughts on “I Can’t Read – Tin Machine

  1. You know, people can denounce certain aspects of David’s career, but the reason for doing so usually speaks to the very thing that made him great. Perhaps an album got too “out there” or experimental for their tastes, but David’s whole artistic career was built on that experimentation and regeneration. I recently watched the biopic “Stardust,” and it really shed good light on how he became what he became. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand a bit more about how his brain worked. No matter what, if you don’t have the artist who gave us stuff like Tin Machine and Glass Spider, you don’t get the rest of it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nailed it Paul. Nailed it. It’s the same for bands/artists who advance a genre and then change direction. The Metallica/Lou Reed collab for instance. I find it a painful listen but I respect the hell out of the artists involved and the venture. Just can’t listen to it

      Liked by 1 person

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