Tag Archives: Is It Any Wonder? (2020)

David Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World (Eno “Live” Mix) (2020 Remaster)

We come to Valentine’s Day, a Friday, and supposedly the last of the songs that will be featured on the upcoming David Bowie EP Is It Any Wonder?, due to be released on the 20th.

I say “supposedly” because looking around here and there, it appears there will be one more song added to this EP, Fun (Clownboy Mix) and I have no clue what that one is but when you search around the Is It Any Wonder? information, it is listed as a seventh track. Perhaps a “hidden” track to be featured on the album itself and not part of the one-song-a-week release schedule?

I dunno.

Anyway, the “new” song released this week, alas, isn’t really new. That is, if you’ve been a devout David Bowie fan (or a maniac like me) and have picked up his stuff pretty religiously as it was being released. The 6th song in this song-a-week release schedule is The Man Who Sold The World (Eno “Live” Mix) (2020 Remaster).

A bit of history, at least as best as I can remember: When Nirvana did their cover of The Man Who Sold The World on MTV, it was a BIG hit. David Bowie found himself getting love for a song that was in his very distant past, and he would start using it more frequently in his shows. Why not? People loved it and wanted to hear him sing it!

At around that time he did the magnificent album 1. Outside, which I’ve said many times before I consider David Bowie’s best later-year album. However, the album wasn’t met with much love from critics or many fans. They thought it was too much, too dense. Hard to get into.

Whatever.

As it turned out, the years were kind to the album and many now look at it as a damn good work.

One of the album’s better songs was Strangers When We Meet, a reworking of the same song which was released on Bowie’s Buddha of Suburbia, the album that came just before 1. Outside and was one of David Bowie’s least known (and I suppose selling) albums. So it made sense to Mr. Bowie, I suppose, to take that song and rework it and add it to 1. Outside in the hopes of people giving it another chance.

Here is the 1. Outside version of Strangers When We Meet:

What the hell does all that have to do with our last (or is it second to last?) Is It Any Wonder? song?

Following the release of 1. Outside, Mr. Bowie would release a “single” version of Strangers When We Meet on CD and it included not only that song, but a reworking of The Man Who Sold The World, which is pretty significantly different in many ways from the original version (and in some ways very similar), the original Buddha of Suburbia version of Strangers When We Meet, and the 1. Outside outtake Get Real.

Strangers When We Meet

I believe that reworked version of The Man Who Sold The World, until now, was only available on that EP CD. Welp, its been remastered and is now part of the Is It Any Wonder? EP and here it is…

I have to say, I like the song quite a bit versus some of the other remade songs which are present on the Is It Any Wonder? EP.

But…

I don’t think its quite as good as the original version.

Then again, the original version is so ingrained in my mind its hard to consider an alternate version, at least for me!

Still, overall I nonetheless like this version of The Man Who Sold The World and am glad we’re now getting it as part of the Is It Any Wonder? EP.

Having said that, what do I think of the EP overall?

I dunno. I still haven’t heard that last song so maybe I should withhold judgment.

If I were to focus on these six songs, though, my feelings are this EP is only “ok” at best. There’s some good stuff here but the remakes of older songs, particularly I Can’t Read, Stay, and Baby Universal, I felt were pretty much all weaker than the original version, with Baby Universal the only one of the lot that approached the positive feelings I have of the original and which engenders similar feelings in me to this version of The Man Who Sold The World.

I’ll likely get the EP when it does come out, so there’s that, but I do feel like there must be other stuff in the vaults worth bringing to light, especially during the 1970’s (ie his Ziggy Stardust, Plastic Soul, and Berlin years).

Perhaps this is the first of many such EPs to come!

David Bowie: Stay ’97

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:

Hmmmm….

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.

Too bad.