Tin Machine album coverWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: August – October 1988; February – April 1989
Producers: Tin Machine, Tim Palmer
Engineer: Justin Shirley-Smith

Released: 22 May 1989

Available on:
Tin Machine


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

‘Pretty Thing’ was one of the earliest songs written for Tin Machine’s debut album, a rock song about that most .

David and I had about five song ideas sketched out initially – ‘Heaven’s In Here’ and ‘Pretty Thing’ and a version of ‘Under The God’ that was called ‘Night Train’ at one point.
Reeves Gabrels
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

Although inevitably bringing to mind the 1960s beat group The Pretty Things and Bowie’s own ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’, Tin Machine’s song is one of their less inspired moments, a leaden rock-out with bluntly sexist lyrics. As an example of Tin Machine at their laddish worst, and how Bowie dumbed down his lyrics at the turn of the Nineties, it’s hard to beat.

There’s a couple of lyrics that leap out. Could you explain them? The line in the song Pretty Thing – “Tie you down, pretend you’re Madonna.”

Bowie: (Laughs) Hey, we were hanging out with Sean [Penn] and he told us a few things! You know what I mean? Nah. It’s a throwaway. I was just trying to think of a… it’s such a silly song anyway.

Do you think Madonna will respond?

Bowie: Respond? Oh… who cares? Really?

Q magazine, June 1989

Tin Machine performed ‘Pretty Thing’ during their two world tours.

Previous song: ‘Bus Stop’
Next song: ‘Video Crime’
Published: |