On Valentine’s day David Bowie’s “I Can’t Read ’97” has been unveiled. The acoustic rendition will appear on the upcoming Is It Any Wonder? EP.
In a groundbreaking performance in Bristol, Bowie rolled through some of the songs that would cement Ziggy as his most prominent persona. Songs such as ‘Queen Bitch’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Moonage Daydream’ and more were all given a glimmering glam rock debut in the South West. But Bowie had another treat up his expertly decorated sleeve, he surprised fans with his Beatles cover.
Following five weeks of unreleased and rare David Bowie tracks from the Earthling era, the singer’s “The Man Who Sold the World (Live Eno Mix)” completes the six-track Is It Any Wonder? EP.
“The Man Who Sold the World (Live Eno Mix)” predates the EP’s other offerings by two years, as the track — a darker trip-hop take on the famed 1970 song — was recorded in October 1995 and released as a single alongside Outside’s “Strangers When We Meet.”
It follows last week’s release of a previously unreleased version of “The Man Who Sold the World” from the six-song set. The rest of the EP’s songs will arrive one at a time on a weekly basis through the next month.(Rolling Stone)
I Can’t Read, which was originally written by Bowie and Reeves Gabrels for their 1989 debut album as Tin Machine. Bowie recorded a solo version of the track in 1997 for the great Ang Lee film The Ice Storm. It turns out that was actually the second attempt at doing the track on his own, though. It was also recorded during the sessions for Earthling and was included on a mastered version of the album, but scrapped in favor of “The Last Thing You Should Do.” Per a press release, the version of “I Can’t Read” being released today was Bowie’s preferred solo version.
Is It Any Wonder? is one of two new Bowie releases in the works. The other, ChangesNowBowie, arrives on Record Store Day, April 18th, as a limited edition LP and CD.
Tony Visconti managed to touch on nearly every era and album he and Bowie collaborated on, but his viewpoint was never bogged down in production or engineering detail. Rather, he painted a detailed portrait of Bowie as if the audience was hanging out with him, too. Here Visconti recalls Bowie.
David is such a treasure to so many people. His music is timeless and I, personally, never grow tired of listening to him. His recordings bear listening over and over again because he was always so nuanced. You always hear new things.
Label to Bowie: “Please Write ‘Young Americans 2’
Bowie took one of his signature left-turns by decamping to Philadelphia with a bunch of soul musicians, including an 18-year-old Luther Vandross, to write and record Young Americans. Once he’d gotten that sound out of his system with Americans and its accompanying Philly/Soul Dogs tour, he was done. “He just cast it aside. He wasn’t interested in the style of ‘Fame,’” remembered Visconti from this period. He would not be tied down to a style. RCA wanted him to do ‘Young Americans 2.’ That was exactly what they said.” By then, the mercurial Bowie had fled to L.A. under to dabble in esotericism and cocaine and record Station to Station— a record Bowie later claimed he had no recollection of making.
Mick Jagger Played Mind Games, Jokingly Sabotaged Lodger in the Mixing Process
The sessions for 1979s underappreciated Lodger were beset by problems both logistical and creative, with Visconti remembering the sessions being “Stuffy and hot…
I’ve got so many pictures of Brian Eno topless.” Mick Jagger dropped by the studio while the two were mixing Lodger, and proceeded to pick it apart at every turn. “Mick continued to put it down — ‘Oh, that drum, oh, that fill isn’t any good.’” When asked by Visconti to quit jabbing at their work, Jagger’s reply was genius: “Well, okay, I guess I’ll go down the road and sabotage Joni Mitchell’s album.”
I was completely shocked when I got his phone call. David decided to make a new album. We saw each other a few times in between Reality and The Next Day. Just a year or two earlier we had lunch in New York’s Soho and talked about our family life for a bit. Then he announced that he hadn’t written a song in years and it didn’t matter one bit. I thought, well, he could actually retire early, he’s done nearly everything.
I was working in London with the Kaiser Chiefs and my mobile phone rang and David was on the other end. He said he wanted to make another record and asked how soon I could get back. I also had to keep it a secret, a new situation in our relationship that extended to Blackstar – complete secrecy about a new Bowie album in the making. After that call, I could barely contain myself. I was back in New York in a rehearsal studio two weeks later with Gerry Leonard on guitar, Sterling Campbell on drums, David on keyboards and me on bass. We were working out arrangements for new songs, actually written beforehand, for the next album. I couldn’t have been happier.
David Tried to Put a Lid on Visconti’s Personal Anecdotes to the Press
Near the end of his life, it was increasingly important to Bowie to keep personal details about himself or the recording process under wraps, insisting that everything the public should know about him was in the songs. “I was one of the few people who, when articles came up, he would say, ‘Tony, you do this, but keep it to the music.’” Visconti would occasionally let go of trifling details, like the fact that they watched a “funny video from England while having lunch,” but Bowie would blow up at even those inconsequential details being leaked. “That is private,” he’d say tensely, about anything slipping from his well-curated wall between his temporal life and his famous public sphere of space oddities and character reinventions.