10 Best David Bowie Tin Machine Songs

Tin Machine Songs

Photo: Roger Woolman, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Our David Bowie Tin Machine songs list looks at a very short-lived band formed by David Bowie in 1988. Desiring to be just a part of a band instead of just the solo superstar legendary rock star that he was, David Bowie formed a band with Reed Gabriels on guitar, Tony Fox Sales on bass, and Hunt Sales on drums. The quartet of musicians would call their band Tin Machine. In a similar fashion to what Paul McCartney did in the mid-70s when he decided to change the name of his solo group from Paul McCartney and Wings to just “Wings,” David Bowie seemed to be just yearning to step into the background and enjoy the camaraderie of an equal partnership with three other musicians. Of course, David Bowie fans really didn’t care about the other musicians and the group. All the fans wanted was new David Bowie music, and if it was going to be released as a group called Tin Machine, then so be it.

Looking back at David Bowie’s career, it’s evident that he was an innovator on many levels. It’s been written many times about how David Bowie influenced music, fashion, lifestyles, video, etc. David Bowie constantly reinvented himself with his sharp show business skills and artistic depth that not many others could achieve. However, when it came to Tin Machine, we missed the boat on what was going on there. Initially, the band wasn’t widely accepted. Yet, looking back at their music, sound, and image, the group was ahead of their time. In many ways, they created a sound along with the great band Sonic Youth that would become so popular a few years later called grunge music.

It could be argued that even though Nirvana is credited with igniting the grunge scene that dominated music for a large part of the ’90s, that grunge sound was already being explored by the bands Tin Machine and Sonic Youth. David Bowie had once again created a new sound that many people had not yet accepted. In the late 1980s, hair, glam, and metal bands were still widely prevalent, and the sound of Guns N’ Roses was the most dominant force in music. All big, loud stadium rock and roll defined the 80s. Tin Machine was formed simply in the wrong decade.

Tin Machine only released two studio albums and two live records. The band’s first album, Tin Machine, was released on May 22nd, 1989. The band’s second studio album, Tin Machine II, was released two years later, on September 2, 1991. The band released a great live album entitled Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby Baby in July of 1992. Just a couple of years ago, in 2019, a new Tin Machine live recording was released entitled Tin Machine: Live at La Cigale, Paris, 25 June 1989. Our Best Tin Machine songs list presents ten of our favorite Tin Machine recordings taken from the band’s studio and live albums.

# 10 – Goodbye Mr. Ed

We open our Tin Machine songs list with the excellent cut “Goodby, Mr. Ed.” The song was released on the band’s second album, Tin Machine II. David Bowie, Hunt Sales, and Tony Fox Sales wrote the song. Listen to how the acoustic guitars are met by those screaming electric guitars at the beginning as the song morphs into an almost classic David Bowie 70s sound with a very nice modern feel. There are some excellent bass fills in this one. It is a great way to open this Tin Machine song list.

# 9 – Baby Can Dance

Continuing with our top 10 Tin Machine songs list we turn to the band’s debut album for the first time and present the great song Baby Can Dance. Imagine if a band like this existed in 2021 and put out music as great as these songs. They would rule the world. “Baby Can Dance” was the album’s closing song. David Bowie wrote the track.

# 8 – I Can’t Read

In the number eight spot on this Tin Machine songs list, we turn to the style of early grunge sounds in this kicking song, “I Can’t Read.” Tell me Kurt Cobain of Nirvana wasn’t listening to this song. The song “I Can’t Read” was written by David Bowie and Reeves Gabrels.

# 7 – Working Class Hero (John Lennon)

At this point on our list, we turn to the first of two great cover songs performed by Tin Machine. The band did a great version of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” and released it twice. The studio version appeared on their first album Tin Machine. The live version presented here was released on the band’s live album Tin Machine: Live at La Cigale, Paris, 25 June 1989, just released in August 2019. David Bowie covering John Lennon with this great band feels right.

# 6 – If  There Is Something (Bryan Ferry)

The second of two cover songs on this list belongs to Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, with the very cool song “If There Is Something.” The song opened up the band’s first live album release, Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby, which was issued in 1992. The band also recorded a studio version of the song, which appeared on the band’s second album Tin Machine II. It was the only cover song released on their sophomore effort.

# 5 – Heavens In Here

At the halfway point on our Tin Machine songs list, we turn to one of the band’s most popular songs, “Heaven’s In Here.” The song was released as the band’s debut single from the group’s first album, Tin Machine. This is the most classic rock-sounding song from the band, which is pretty interesting that they decided to release it as the lead single. The guitar work by Reeves Gabrels on this one is off-the-charts fantastic.  This is such a great song.

# 4 – Baby Universal

Man, does this one sound like vintage 1970s David Bowie Station To Station style? This is the song where critics were saying David Bowie is back. The band rocks hard along with David Bowie on this great track from the band’s second album, Tin Machine II. The song “Baby Universal” was released as the album’s opening track. The song was released as the second single from the album.

# 3 – Prisoner Of Love

The song “Prisoner Of Love” is one of the most profound songs on the band’s first album Tin Machine. The song was written by all four band members, including David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, Hunt Sales, and Tony Fox Sales. The song was released as the third single from the album. Reeves Gabrels’ cinematic guitar line resonates throughout the song, wrapping around the classic vocal of the great David Bowie like two Western Cowboys riding into battle.

# 2 – You Belong In Rock And Roll

As we begin to wind down our Tin Machine list we turn to the standout track from the band’s second album Tin Machine II. The song “You Belong in Rock n’ Roll” is such a brilliant song that was written by the entire band of David Bowie, Peter Gabrels, Hunt Sales and Tony Fox Sales. The song was the album’s first single and was actually released before the album even came out. It would become Tin Machine’s highest-charting single in the United Kingdom.

# 1 – Under The God

We close out our Tin Machine songs list with the band’s incredible piece of music entitled “Under The God.” After the release of the promotional single “Heavens in Here,” the song “Under The God” was released as the first single from the album Tin Machine . “Under the God,” would become the band’s biggest hit in the United States. It was a top 10 hit on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks and the US Billboard Alternative Rock Tracks Charts. As big as David Bowie’s always been in England, he’s been just as big in the United States. We miss David Bowie and will continue to write about his music and life as long as we own this rock and roll site. We hope you enjoyed this Tin Machine songs list and it inspires you to buy both fantastic albums.

Updated February 14, 2024

Professional Sources, research, experience, and citations

Charting information used in the analysis and research of the commercial success of these songs comes from Billboard Magazine Charts


The Story Of Classic Rock

Other sources for important factual information include the band’s website


Further analysis and original thoughts are provided by the writer Brian Kachejian’s experience as a professional musician and music collector for over 50 years and his experience as a New York State certified music and history educator and professional music journalist with the New York Press.

These articles are updated regularly.

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