As I’ve pointed out before (here and here) the estate of the late David Bowie is releasing two “new” albums this year. The first is a six track EP called Is It Any Wonder? and I mistakenly thought it would feature “new” versions of older songs made in rehearsal for David Bowie’s 50 Birthday Party Concert.
The first song on the EP is indeed from that rehearsal and is The Man Who Sold The World (check the links above in the first paragraph). The intention by Mr. Bowie’s estate is to release one new song from that EP every week until all six are released, then release the EP itself. Later in the year we’ll also see the release of ChangesNowBowie which, if I understand correctly (now anyway) will actually feature a bunch of rehearsal songs including The Man Who Sold The World.
The second song in the weekly releases is a reworking of Tin Machine’s I Can’t Read. Tin Machine, for those who aren’t aware, was a David Bowie side project that featured two full albums and at least one official live album release before Mr. Bowie returned to being a “solo” act.
Now, a third song from the EP has been released, a very ’90’s version of the song Stay, originally featured on David Bowie’s fabulous Station To Station album. Here’s the new, 1997 version of that song:
I have to say, and it pains me to do so because I’m such a big David Bowie fan, but so far these new releases aren’t doing all that much for me.
The Man Who Sold The World was a solid version of the song but, frankly, a decently done version but nothing all that much more. I Can’t Read, on the other hand was a much more reworked version of that song, but as I said in my original post (again, the links are in the first paragraph), I preferred the original Tin Machine version. Having said that, while there are several Tin Machine songs I love, this wasn’t one of them. It’s OK, mind you, but I don’t believe it was ever one of Mr. Bowie’s strongest compositions.
This version of Stay is… jeeze. I dunno. I mean, they took the skeleton of the original song, presented below…
…and added a whole bunch of other (for lack of a better term) stuff to it to, I suppose, fit in more with the then in vogue more grunge sound that was popular.
They didn’t kill the song, but I feel like a lot, perhaps even most of the flourishes, are unnecessary and detract rather than enhance the song.
In this case, unlike I Can’t Read, I’m a HUGE fan of the original song and album. I feel Station to Station is one of David Bowie’s absolute masterpieces and, sometimes, its hard to listen to a “new” version which tries to add more bells and whistles -so to speak- to something that one views as already damn near perfect.
So far, with three songs -half the EP- released, I sadly have to say I’m not loving these new/unreleased songs but, being a big David Bowie fan, will nonetheless check out the other three songs to come.
Maybe they’ll be better but at least so far this EP is sounding like a curiosity but nothing that’s blowing my socks off.