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

Released: 2 September 1991

Available on:
Tin Machine II


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

‘You Can’t Talk’ is the seventh song on Tin Machine II. Along with ‘One Shot’, it was one of two songs credited to all four band members.

Seemingly titled as a companion piece to the first album’s ‘I Can’t Read’, ‘You Can’t Talk’ is an experiment in musical forms which primarily falls down from a lack of a memorable melody.

David Bowie’s half-rapped delivery recalled the likes of ‘Blackout’ and ‘African Night Flight’, with an opening reference to ‘Beauty And The Beast’. Reeves Gabrels’ experimental guitar work, meanwhile, was a forerunner of the electronica that would be more fully explored on 1997’s Earthling.

Yet despite containing flashes of intrigue, and propelled by a tight rhythm section performance reminiscent of 1979’s ‘Look Back In Anger’, ‘You Can’t Talk’ remains one of Tin Machine II’s more throwaway songs.

‘You Can Talk’ was performed during the It’s My Life Tour in 1991/2. Five alternative versions of the song were leaked online in 2008, one of which contained a different lead vocal performance.

Previous song: ‘Betty Wrong’
Next song: ‘Stateside’
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