Tin Machine: The Final Gig 30 Years On

I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this but Bowie came to me in a dream a few days ago and said I must! I’m under orders…

30 years ago this month, on 17 February 1992, Tin Machine played their last ever gig at the NHK Hall in Tokyo. It was the final date of the ‘It’s My Life’ tour.

It had been a period of ups and downs – ups in late October 1991 when Bowie proposed to Iman Abdulmajid in Paris, downs due to the drug problems of one band member (with the initials HS).

Some people never ‘forgave’ Bowie for TM but for many others the band represented his ’80s rehabilitation. I was fascinated from the get-go and for my money it spawned a fair share of classic David (sometimes co-written with Reeves Gabrels) songs: ‘I Can’t Read’, ‘Under The God’, ‘Amazing’, ‘Baby Universal’, ‘You Belong In Rock’n’Roll’, ‘Amlapura’, ‘Shopping For Girls’, ‘Goodbye Mr Ed’.

And it’s doubtful we would have got that brilliant Buddha Of Suburbia/1. Outside/Earthling triptych without TM.

Bowie agreed: ‘Once I had done Tin Machine, nobody could see me any more which was the best thing that ever happened, because I was back using all the artistic pieces that I needed to survive and imbuing myself with the passion that I had in the late seventies.’

True to his word, the band lasted three albums, though Bowie hinted it may have gone on longer had drug problems not reared their ugly heads. But it’s still hard to get hold of the last two records (Tin Machine II, Oy Vey Baby).

Here’s the second, penultimate night at the NHK on 6 February 1992. The sound quality is superb, though the audio cuts out completely around 45 minutes in and doesn’t return.

Gabrels sounds great, Bowie (sporting a ‘Rock Against Racism’ T-shirt) does too and there are some nice bits of ‘amateurism’ including several fudged song openings (Bowie’s guitar tech has very kindly turned down the volume of his 12-string before the start of the gig!). Some of this material was used for the final album Oy Vey Baby.

The Movers And Shakers Of 1980s Music: Their Real Names Revealed

Captain Sensible, AKA…

During the punk era, musicians often chose stage names so that the dole office wouldn’t identify them from album covers or gigs when they came in to sign on.

One wonders how much of an issue that was for Gordon Sumner, Paul Hewson and David Evans, AKA Sting, Bono and The Edge, but you never know.

But as the 1980s wore on and the post-punk era became the hip-hop era, a whole new generation of rappers, DJs, producers and musicians felt the need to create pseudonyms.

But what did their mums call them? Here, for your dubious pleasure, are some of the most intriguing real names. It’s fair to assume that most probably don’t like being reminded of these, for various reasons. YOU go taunting Ice-T with his real name (Tracy Marrow). But, on the other hand, kudos to The Cure’s Robert Smith for NOT using a pseudonym…

Terminator X (Public Enemy DJ): Norman Rogers

Melle Mel (Furious Five rapper): Melvin Glover

Cheryl Baker (Bucks Fizz vocalist): Rita Crudgington

Grandmaster Flash (superstar DJ): Joseph Saddler

Kidd Creole (Furious Five rapper): Nathaniel Glover

KRS-One: Lawrence Parker

Siouxsie Sioux: Susan Ballion

Sebastian Bach (Skid Row singer): Sebastian Bierk

Marilyn (‘Calling Your Name’ star): Peter Robinson

Don Was (Was Not Was co-founder/superstar producer): Don Fagenson

Falco (‘Rock Me Amadeus’ one-hit wonder): Johann Holzel

Steve Severin (Siouxsie and the Banshees bassist): John Bailey

Budgie (Siouxsie drummer): Peter Clarke

Flavor Flav (Public Enemy rapper): William Drayton

LL Cool J: James Smith

Tone Loc: Anthony Smith

Bonnie Tyler: Gaynor Hopkins

Yngwie Malmsteen: Lars Lannerback

Young MC: Marvin Young

Ice Cube: O’Shea Jackson Sr.

Shakin’ Stevens: Michael Barratt

Donna Summer: LaDonna Gaines

Captain Sensible: Raymond Burns

Rat Scabies (Damned drummer): Christopher Millar

Vanilla Ice: Matthew Van Winkle

MC Hammer: Stanley Burrell

DJ Kool Herc (hip-hop pioneer): Clive Campbell

Duke Bootee (hip-hop pioneer): Edward Fletcher

Afrika Bambaataa: Lance Taylor

Nikki Sixx (Motley Crue bassist): Franklin Ferrana

Skip McDonald (On-U Records/Sugar Hill guitarist): Bernard Alexander

Billy Idol: William Broad

Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones bassist/solo artist): William Perks

Fish (Marillion singer): Derek Dick

Fee Waybill (The Tubes vocalist): John Waldo

Billy Ocean: Leslie Charles

Posdnuous (De La Soul rapper): Kelvin Mercer

Maseo (De La Soul rapper): Vincent Mason Jr.

Chris De Burgh: Christopher Davidson

Kool Moe Dee: Mohandas Dewese

Youth (Killing Joke bassist/superstar producer): Martin Glover

Geordie (Killing Joke guitarist): Kevin Walker

Eddie Gomez: Mezgo/Power Play 35 Years On

Even amidst this digital revolution, there are still classic jazz and fusion albums which just resolutely refuse to appear on streaming platforms, due to copyright problems, label problems or whatever.

Eddie Gomez’s excellent late-1980s albums Mezgo (later rereleased as Discovery) and Power Play are cases in point, recorded for the Japanese arm of the Epic label and currently residing in the ‘where are they now’ file (glad I held onto my cassette copies).

Bassist/composer Gomez is probably best known for his stellar sideman work with pianists Bill Evans and Chick Corea, as well as being a co-founder of jazz/fusion supergroup Steps Ahead, but his solo work sometimes goes unheralded.

Perhaps most relevantly, given Bill Milkowski’s major new biography, both albums feature some of saxophonist Michael Brecker’s best-ever recorded work. And they are crucial items in drummer Steve Gadd’s discography too.

1986’s Mezgo is mainly a trio album, Gomez on bass and keys, Gadd on drums/percussion and Brecker on saxes and EWI. It’s a stunning potpourri of styles, starting with the Weather Report vibe of ‘Me Too’, calling in at the fast bebop number ‘Puccini’s Walk’ (poorly covered by Corea not once but twice!) with some superb Gadd, and ending with a very moving version of Henry Purcell’s ‘Cello Sonata In G Minor (1st Movement)’.

Power Play, released the following year, had more concessions to commercialism, with some romantic ballads featuring syrupy alto sax from Dick Oatts and a few Latin-style groovers featuring Jeremy Steig on flute.

But the title track was a stunner, featuring double drums from Gadd and Al Foster. There was also a superb duet with guitarist Jim Hall, ‘Amethyst’, and an excellent fast bop track ‘West 110 St.’ featuring Foster and Brecker.

Shame you can’t hear Mezgo or Power Play (I can’t even find half-decent streams on YouTube). Beg, borrow or steal them if they ever appear in those proverbial ‘bargain bins’…