Tin Machine Live – Oy Vey, Baby album coverRecorded: 20 November 1991 – 11 February 1992
Producers: Reeves Gabrels, Max Bisgrove, Tom Dubé, Dave Bianco, David Bowie

Released: 2 July 1992

David Bowie: vocals, guitar, saxophone
Reeves Gabrels: guitar, vocals
Tony Sales: bass guitar, vocals
Hunt Sales: drums, vocals
Eric Schermerhorn: guitar, vocals

Tracklisting:

  • ‘If There Is Something’
  • ‘Amazing’
  • ‘I Can’t Read’
  • ‘Stateside’
  • ‘Under The God’
  • ‘Goodbye Mr Ed’
  • ‘Heaven’s In Here’
  • ‘You Belong In Rock N’ Roll’

Tin Machine’s final album was a collection of eight live songs, recorded in five different venues in America and Japan during the band’s 1991-92 It’s My Life tour.

The album’s earliest recording was ‘I Can’t Read’, taped at Boston’s Orpheym Theatre on 20 November 1991. ‘Stateside’ and ‘Heaven’s In Here’ were performances from New York’s Academy in November, and ‘Amazing’ and ‘You Belong In Rock N’ Roll’ were recorded at the Riviera in Chicago on 7 December.

The three remaining songs were from the following February, during Tin Machine’s Japanese tour. ‘If There Is Something’ and ‘Goodbye Mr. Ed’ were recorded at the NHK Hall in Tokyo on 17 February 1992, and ‘Under The God’ was from the Kouseinenkin Kaikan in Sapporo earlier in the month.

I love Tin Machine! I’m a huge fan. I really rate a lot of that work. At least 50 per cent of what we did was good. It was exciting stuff and some of it, in its way, was reasonably innovative. There wasn’t much around that sounded like it at the time. There was something in the air that I just felt, This is what the world is like right now. It felt like that. But there were such volatile personalities in that band, you never knew from night to night how it would go. There was nothing you could depend on. Somebody would be out of their minds, not be able to play – or even turn up in some cases. But when we were ‘on’ it was incredible.

And audiences loved that band. Outside is a really popular album with my lot, they love it, but I’m telling you, the audiences for Tin Machine had the greatest nights. When it was bad it sucked a big one, but that’s what that band was all about. It was a terrific experience and really made me feel good, because now I felt I could make decisions about what I wanted to do over the coming years. There was nowhere to hide with that band. We had everything against us – and it was good!

David Bowie
The Word, October 2003

The title Oy Vey, Baby was Tin Machine drummer Hunt Sales’s idea, and was a reference to U2’s 1991 album Achtung Baby.

Fortunately the world never really got to hear us at our worst. But then again, I think they probably never got to hear us at our best, either. The albums are almost an appendage to the whole thing. We were really a live experience. There is an album we put out called Oy Vay, Baby [sic] – which is Hunt Sales’ title, I might add – the whole Soupy Sales link.
David Bowie
Modern Drummer, July 1997

Plans for a second live collection, tentatively titled Use Your Wallet in reference to Guns N’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion, were shelved after Oy Vey, Baby failed to chart.

David used it [the title Oy Vey, Baby] as a play on the fact that there are no original ideas. In fact, we were seriously considering putting out a double live album, and calling the second set Use Your Wallet!
Reeves Gabrels
Record Collector, November 1999

The release

Oy Vey, Baby was released by London Records on 2 July 1992. It received poor critical reviews, and became Bowie’s first album since his 1967 to fail to chart in the United Kingdom.

It was released alongside a live video. Oy Vey, Baby: Tin Machine Live At The Docks was recorded in Hamburg, Germany, on 24 October 1991. It featured 16 songs over 88 minutes, and was distributed in the UK by PolyGram Video Ltd.

The muted response to Oy Vey, Baby convinced Bowie to disband Tin Machine and focus instead on his solo work. His single ‘Real Cool World’ was issued less than a month after the Tin Machine album, and his album Black Tie White Noise was already being worked on.