Black Tie White Noise album coverRecorded: June-September 1992
Producers: David Bowie, Nile Rodgers

Released: 5 April 1993

David Bowie: vocals, guitar, saxophone, dog alto
Nile Rodgers: guitar
Mick Ronson, Reeves Gabrels, Wild T Springer: guitar
Barry Campbell, John Regan: bass guitar
Mike Garson: piano
Richard Hilton, Dave Richards, Philippe Saisse, Richard Tee: keyboards
Poogie Bell, Sterling Campbell: drums
Gerado Velez: percussion
Michael Reisman: harp, tubular bells
Lester Bowie: trumpet
Al B Sure!, Fonzi Thorton, Tawatha Agee, Curtis King, Jr, Dennis Collins, Brenda White-King, Maryl Epps, Frank Simms, George Simms, David Spinner, Lamya Al-Mughiery, Connie Petruk: vocals

Tracklisting:

  • ‘The Wedding’
  • ‘You’ve Been Around’
  • ‘I Feel Free’
  • ‘Black Tie White Noise’
  • ‘Jump They Say’
  • ‘Nite Flights’
  • ‘Pallas Athena’
  • ‘Miracle Goodnight’
  • ‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’
  • ‘Looking For Lester’
  • ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’
  • ‘The Wedding Song’

Black Tie White Noise was David Bowie’s first solo release since the demise of Tin Machine. The album was written and recorded in the months after his marriage to Iman, and saw him reunite with Let’s Dance producer Nile Rodgers.

I personally think my work in the ’90s has been the best that I could possibly do. It’s proved to have a lot of life and it’s got some strong devotees. From Black Tie…, I think I’ve not put out a shoddy piece of work. I’m very proud of it all. Especially things like The Buddha Of Suburbia, which went – pffft – under the radar. Maybe Buddha was an indication that I’d be going back into more experimental stuff, like Outside, again.
David Bowie
Uncut, October 1999

Kicking off with the sound of church bells, and bookended by ‘The Wedding’ and ‘The Wedding Song’, fans might have been worried that Bowie had gone soft in his newly-married state. Their trepidation would have been misplaced, however. Coming after the raw rock ‘n’ roll excesses of Tin Machine, Black Tie White Noise was a return to commercial pop, and in ‘Jump They Say’ he achieved his first UK top 10 single since 1986’s ‘Absolute Beginners’.

So we got together again and he was marrying Iman – who was my friend too – to do Black Tie, White Noise. The working title was The Wedding Album. I was trying to turn it into a very, very, very commercial piece of work. He, on the other hand, was trying to make this artistic statement about this period in his life. That was a little bit uncomfortable, because we were butting heads, but I think we did a wonderful album.
Nile Rodgers
Rolling Stone, 12 January 2016

Black Tie White Noise contained four cover versions, the most since Pinups. ‘I Feel Free’ was a December 1966 hit for Cream, while ‘Nite Flights’ was the title track of the Walker Brothers’ final album in 1978.

‘Don’t Let Me Down & Down’ was written by Tarha, a Mauritanian princess and friend of Iman. The lyrics, originally in Arabic, were translated for Black Tie by French producer Martine Valmont. Better known was ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’, originally on Morrissey’s Mick Ronson-produced 1992 album Your Arsenal.