Recording: Can You Hear Me by Lulu

An overdub session for Lulu’s version of ‘Can You Hear Me’ was recorded on 17 April 1974.

The session took place at RCA Studios in New York. It included the recording of string parts scored by Mick Ronson.

Much of Lulu’s version of the song had been taped in London on 25 March 1974, days before Bowie left the UK for good.

Lulu’s got this terrific voice, and it’s been misdirected all this time, all these years. People laugh now, but they won’t in two years time, you see! I produced a single with her — ‘Can You Hear Me’ — and that’s more the way she’s going. She’s got a real soul voice, she can get the feel of Aretha, but it’s been so misdirected.
David Bowie
Sounds, 4 May 1974

‘Can You Hear Me’ began life under the working title ‘Take It In Right’. Bowie recorded a demo version at Olympic on 1 January 1974 during the Diamond Dogs sessions. Bowie later re-recorded the song for Young Americans.

Not for a minute did I think ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ was the greatest thing. I just thought, ‘Do what Bowie tells you,’ but that song ‘Can You Hear Me’, that was more my thing. It was a very soulful track.
The Herald, April 2015

Despite the considerable attention it was given at the time, Lulu’s version of ‘Can You Hear Me’ was shelved and remains unreleased, and the mooted album never materialised.

He was having terrible problems with his record company at the time, and the record stayed unreleased. It’s probably in a vault somewhere.
David Bowie: A Life, Dylan Jones

The New York session was perhaps most notable for being Bowie’s first encounter with session guitarist Carlos Alomar, who subsequently became one of his key collaborators throughout the rest of the 1970s and beyond.

Last updated: 17 May 2023
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