by Paul Stump / Uncut
BLACK TIE, WHITE NOISE EMI
Lavish two-CD repackaging for Bowie’s 1993 return-to-form
An album supposedly atoning for Tin Machine, Bowie even signed up Let’s Dance producer Nile Rodgers as an avatar of renewal (although some critics baulked at the explicit address of this album to new bride Iman).
Maybe it’s the excitingly extravagant garnish of remixes and singles, but this feels like a confident and estimable piece of work. Tin Machine was Bowie’s musical midlife crisis and attempted rock’n’rebirth, fooling nobody and appalling everybody. Black Tie finds him on safer ground, earnestly tinkering at the camp interface of contemporary rock and soul. Sadly, it also heralds Bowie’s retreat into a hyper-sleek musical exoskeleton of studio perfection. Allowing tricky technical nods to contemporaneity, it also winnows out soul and substance. Bowie pussyfoots around a tune like “I Feel Free” instead of yanking it into his own here and now; only namesake Lester Bowie’s trumpet forces him to take control of the title track and “Jump They Say”.