Written by: David Bowie
Producers: David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, Mark Plati
Is It Any Wonder?
David Bowie: vocals
Reeves Gabrels: guitar
Mark Plati: keyboards, programming
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar, vocals
Mike Garson: piano
Zachary Alford: drums
‘Fun’ began life as a live version of David Bowie’s 1975 hit ‘Fame’, recording during the Earthling Tour in 1997.
The live performance was initially named ‘Is It Any Wonder’, itself a line from ‘Fame’, one of two songs Bowie recorded with John Lennon for the Young Americans album.
Bowie’s Earthling Tour took place from June-November 1997, and the backing track of ‘Is It Any Wonder’ 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 ‘Fun’ (Clownboy Mix), which was included on a BowieNet CD-ROM that year. It was, along with four other Saber remixes of the track, included on two promo Virgin Records CDs. A ‘Live Version’ from Bowie’s Amsterdam show on 10 June 1997 was also made available to BowieNet subscribers.
‘Fun’ (Dillinja mix) was included on the second disc of remixes that came with initial copies liveandwell.com, given away to BowieNet members in September 2000. When the album was given a wider commercial release in 2020, it was without the remixes.
‘Fun’ (Clownboy Mix) was re-released in 2020 on the non-streaming (CD/vinyl) versions of the Is It Any Wonder? EP, 22 years after its original release.
The physical formats of IS IT ANY WONDER? on 12” vinyl and CD will feature ‘Fun’ (CLOWNBOY MIX) replacing ’THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD’ (CHANGESNOWBOWIE version), leaving the CHANGESNOWBOWIE version exclusive to the CHANGESNOWBOWIE LP and CD to be released on Record Store Day, 18th April.
‘Fun’ (CLOWNBOY MIX) originated as a modern revamp of the Bowie classic ‘Fame’, performed under the name ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ during David’s ‘club set’ on the Earthling tour.
The basic backing and sequencer tracks were worked at the Factory in Dublin docklands during pre-tour rehearsals in early 1997. A live version of ‘Fame,’ recorded at the Amsterdam Paradiso on 10th June, 1997, was further worked on by Mark Plati and Reeves Gabrels at Looking Glass Studios in New York and mixed at Sony Music Studios in New York in February 1998. At one point the live version of ‘FUN’, as it was now being called, was considered for inclusion on the BowieNet exclusive Liveandwell.com album and appeared on early reference masters. Referenced in interviews by Reeves as ‘Funhouse’, the song further developed lyrically and musically and, by the time Danny Saber created the Clownboy mix in May 1998, it was a completely new piece of work written by David and Reeves and featuring no elements of ‘Fame’. The Clownboy mix has previously only appeared on a BowieNet subscriber exclusive CD-ROM in 1998 and on Virgin Records in-house CDR’s along with four other Clownboy mix variants.
The Clownboy 1 remix, retitled ‘Fun’ (BowieNet Mix), was included on Re:Call 5, a compilation of his non-album singles, single versions, remixes and b-sides included in the 2021 box set Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001).