Tin Machine II album coverWritten by: David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels
Recorded: September – November 1989; April, September – October 1990; March 1991
Producers: Tin Machine, Tim Palmer

Released: 19 August 1991

Available on:
Tin Machine II



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

‘Amlapura’ is the fifth song on the second Tin Machine album. It was performed live during the band’s It’s My Life Tour.

It was named after a city on the east coast of Bali, Indonesia. The name derives from amla meaning fruit, and pura meaning place.

There are so many good songs on Tin Machine II. To me, it was a step up, in many ways, from the first Tin Machine album. A song like ‘Amlapura’ is so beautiful.
Tim Palmer
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

Bali had a special significance for Bowie. At the end of 1983, following the Serious Moonlight Tour, he visited Bali and Java, accompanied by his assistant Coco Schwab, and Iggy Pop and his partner Suchi Asano. Their experiences inspired the Tonight song ‘Tumble And Twirl’.

Bowie returned to Indonesia a number of times, and retained a fascination with Bali, although he never owned property there. His home on Mustique in the Caribbean was decorated in Balinese style, and his will requested that his ashes were scattered on Bali.

I direct that my executor shall arrange for my remains to be taken to the country of Bali and to be cremated there in accordance with the Buddhist rituals of Bali. If that is not practical, then I direct that my executors shall arrange for my remains to be cremated and my ashes scattered in Bali.
David Bowie’s will

Bowie visited Amlapura in July 1989, and put his memories into a song written with Reeves Gabrels. Tin Machine II has a wider sonic palette than its predecessor, and ‘Amlapura’ is the album’s most meditative, beatific moment.

One other thing I remember about the recording – and I find this story fascinating, because it shows the greatness of David Bowie as a vocalist – is when he sang ‘Amlapura’, one of my favourite tracks. He came in, had a listen and decided he would sing it again. Everybody wanted to know why he wanted to do it again, because it was so good and so well performed. But he said that he felt the vocal could be sadder. The way he went about doing that is he sang the vocal slightly flatter. And he sang it first time. To have that control is just something that I’ve never experienced before. To this day, I’ve never heard of anyone being able to do that. But he could do that, he was that good.
Tim Palmer
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

Bowie also recorded his vocals in Indonesian. ‘Amlapura’ (Indonesian version) was released on the 7″, 12″, and CD formats of the ‘You Belong In Rock N’ Roll’ single, and on the Japanese ‘Baby Universal’ CD single.

Previous song: ‘If There Is Something’
Next song: ‘Betty Wrong’
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