Monday, 25 April 2016

U - Under the God

As the walls came tumbling down
So, the secrets that we shared
I believed you by the palace gates
Now the savage days are here

The first single from David Bowie's hard-rock album Tin Machine, for which he had formed the band of the same name, was recorded in the fall of 1989 at Mountain Studios, Montreux and Compass Point Studios in Nassau; its B-side was "Sacrifice Yourself".  Unusually, the single was released after the record had been issued.

Reeves Gabrels' frenetic guitar riff gives the listener an immediate sense that the song is a radical departure from Bowie's late 1980s material.  Unsatisfied with his creative performance since the success of Let's Dance in 1983, Bowie said: "For me, that band was absolutely necessary.  It accomplished what it was supposed to do, which was bring me back to my absolute roots and set me back on the right course of what I do best."

Although "Under the God" was considered a commercial flop in both the UK and North America, it still reached fourth position in the U.S. Billboard Alternative Songs and position 51 on the UK Singles Chart for 1989.  The song has been described as an unabashed example of Bowie's stinging social commentary - which for much of his early career had been blunted by censors - as well as a rebuke to people who use rock and roll songs out of context as anthems for their causes.  (In fact, this song itself was reportedly used as a hate anthem by a German skinhead gang.)

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