Heading to New Hampshire to see college pals and their spouses tomorrow naturally turns a man’s thoughts to the music of his college years — and so it strikes me that everything that was new then is around twenty years old now. Take the first Tin Machine album, for example, with the song “Under the God” on it, which turns twenty next year.
(The video for “Under the God” is really just one excerpt from the amazing and rarely-seen twenty-minute-or-so multi-song video for the whole album, in which they perform all the songs on one sound stage as if in one go but do radical restagings of the set between numbers, in a split second between songs — and that live performance I linked a few words before that was the first time the world beheld Tin Machine, on live TV during an awards show, like some glorious, unexpected monster hauling itself into view where an effete elf kingdom had once existed.)
I still think of the two-album lifespan of Tin Machine as “late Bowie” — but now it’s only about halfway through his career, just as Star Trek: The Next Generation’s start in 1987 now marks the halfway point in the forty-three-year history of the Star Trek franchise.
So I think the one great song Bowie did in what I can now call the second half of his career — performed with Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels but without the sons of Soupy Sales, who were the bassist and drummer of Tin Machine — was “Dead Man Walking,” so good it inspired me to buy the Live from 6A album of performances from Conan O’Brien, and, no matter how unhip it may sound to say this, that is probably one of my favorite CDs.
What seems harder to believe than Tin Machine (and the self-titled track from that self-titled first album, a powerful, macho, too-early-to-be-grunge number I like to think of as “The Theme from Tin Machine”) being twenty, though, is stuff that feels decidedly later than that — like my The Smoking Popes Get Fired CD by the Smoking Popes — being at least a whopping fifteen years old. How did that happen? That means in just a few years, given twenty-year pop cycles, it’ll be time for the kitschy retro-grunge/90s-alt-rock “revival,” as if the growling has actually subsided for five minutes since 1992 and given me any time in which to grow nostalgic.
For the revival, though, I suggest imitating Smoking Popes and Sebadoh and Harvey Danger. Oddly enough, one band that already sort of fits the bill is that Christian rock band mewithoutYou that Daniel Radosh likes.