Is It Any Wonder? (2020) cover artworkRecorded: 1995-1997
Producers: David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, Mark Plati

Released: January-February 2020 (streaming); 20 March 2020 (CD/vinyl)

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals
Reeves Gabrels: vocals, guitar, synthesizer
Gail Ann Dorsey: vocals, bass guitar
Carlos Alomar: guitar
Mike Garson: piano, keyboards
Mark Plati: keyboards, programming
Zachary Alford: drums
Brian Eno: vocals, synthesizer
Peter Schwartz: synthesizer

Tracklisting

  • ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (ChangesNowBowie version) (streaming only)
  • ‘Baby Universal ’97’
  • ‘Fun’ (Clownboy Mix) (CD/vinyl only)
  • ‘Stay ’97’
  • ‘I Can’t Read ’97’
  • ‘Nuts’
  • ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (Live Eno Mix)

Is It Any Wonder? is a six-track EP by David Bowie, recorded between 1995 and 1997 and released in 2020, first on streaming services, and later as a limited edition compact disc and vinyl edition.

The EP contains reworkings of several Bowie songs, the oldest being Brian Eno’s 1995 remix of an Outside Tour re-recording of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’, which was originally released on the ‘Strangers When We Meet’ single.

There were also radically-different versions of Bowie’s 1975 hit ‘Fame’ – as ‘Fun’ (Clownboy Mix) – and the following year’s ‘Stay’, along with the Earthling outtake ‘Nuts’, and same-era re-recordings of the Tin Machine songs ‘I Can’t Read’ and ‘Baby Universal’.

The title

The title Is It Any Wonder? was taken from Bowie’s 1975 single ‘Fame’, recorded with John Lennon for the Young Americans album.

The song was revamped during Bowie’s Earthling Tour, which took place from June-November 1997. The backing track was recorded during rehearsals in Dublin in early 1997. The new recording was originally considered for inclusion on the BowieNet release liveandwell.com.

Bowie and Reeves Gabrels then rewrote the song completely, and it was renamed ‘Fun’ (Gabrels occasionally referred to it as ‘Funhouse’ during interviews). In May 1998 Danny Saber created the Clownboy Mix, which was included on a BowieNet CD-ROM that year, and on an in-house Virgin Records CD, before being released officially 22 years later on Is It Any Wonder?

The release

The Is It Any Wonder? EP was announced, along with the ChangesNowBowie album, on 8 January 2020, on what would have been Bowie’s 73rd birthday.

Also on that date, a previously-unreleased version of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was made available on streaming platforms. This was one of the ChangesNowBowie recordings, and was billed as the first of six unreleased and rare tracks to be released online over six consecutive weeks under the title Is It Any Wonder?.

‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was followed by five further tracks: ‘I Can’t Read ’97’ (17 January), ‘Stay ’97’ (24 January), ‘Baby Universal ’97’ (31 January), ‘Nuts’ (6 February), and ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ (Live Eno Mix) (14 February).

Somewhat confusingly, the ChangesNowBowie version of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was left off the CD and vinyl edition of Is It Any Wonder?, where it was replaced with ‘Fun’ (Clownboy Mix), a reworking of Fame from 1997-98.

On 14 February 2020, the day the Live Eno Mix of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ was unveiled, limited vinyl and compact disc editions of Is It Any Wonder? were made available to order online, exclusive to Bowie’s website, and the labels Warner and Rhino Entertainment.

The physical editions were sold alongside Is It Any Wonder?-branded t-shirts, hoodies, baseball caps, water bottles, magnets, and stickers. The vinyl version was limited to 6,000 copies, and the CD to 4,000.