David Bowie / I Can’t Read ’97

Another previously unreleased track issued for ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ EP

The second instalment of David Bowie‘s previously announced Is It Any Wonder? streaming EP is a previously unreleased version of ‘I Can’t Read’.

The song is the second of six previously unreleased tracks that are being made available over a six week period. As many of you will know, ‘I Can’t Read’ was originally a Tin Machine album track from that band’s 1989 eponymous debut. It was written by David and Tin Machine guitarist, Reeves Gabrels.

Bowie later re-recorded it, with the new interpretation nearly ending up on 1997’s Earthling, only to be pulled late in the day (and replaced by ‘The Last Thing You Should Do’).

That version was then tweaked/amended to be used in Ang Lee’s 1997 film The Ice Storm and was issued as a single (only on CD, interestingly enough) in December that same year. The unheard Is It Any Wonder? version is actually the original re-recording that almost ended up on Earthling and is differentiated from the Ice Storm version by the ’97’ suffix.

‘I Can’t Read 97’ has been sync’d to the original Tim Pope video for ‘I Can’t Read’ and the musicians on the track are Gail Ann Dorsey on bass and vocals, Mike Garson on piano, and Reeves Gabrels on guitar and vocals. It’s produced by Bowie, Gabrels and Mark Plati.

Listen to/watch ‘I Can’t Read 97’ below!

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Just found the CD in my letter box: definitely worth the steep price (€18.95 including P&P for 29 minutes of music!) if only to own “Baby Universal ’97” and “Nuts” (both new to me) and the very “90s Bowie” version of “The Man Who Sold The World (Live Eno Mix)”. Nice gatefold paper sleeve too.


Just pre- ordered the “is it any wonder?” cd single From the official bowie site. £12.75 including postage is a bit steep but the email from the bowie site claims Limited to 10k copies, 6k on vinyl and 4k on cd. Hope this is worldwide!

Saar Freedman

heads up- Physical (12″ vinyl and CD) now available via the rhino store, supposedly a web store exclusive


The cd single goes for much less on ebay. Personally i wouldn’t pay more than around £6 for a copy.


Interesting find by christian (see reply below). Video and streaming versions are indeed different with the video version having the original Tin Machine lyrics. These lyrics were also used in the acoustic versions played live in 1996 (bridge benefit) and 1997 (radio Atlanta).

There is also a video on youtube (4:54 in length) which seems to come from the actual Ice Storm movie which has the old lyrics and not the altered lyrics of the 1997 single and 2020 streaming version. A mystery ! Paul or anyone, any ideas?

Graham Herbert

Bowie one word a genius


So if I have the original CD Single, has this now gone up in value ? What’s on the new CD single ? The Original CD has :
1. I Can’t Read (Short Version) – 4.31
2. I Can’t Read (Long Version) – 5.27
3. This Is Not America – 3.45


Ok, so streaming only…. It’s all a bit misleading, how a released CD Single for a popular film is deemed an “unreleased track”.


What was the first track released?


I thought “The Man Who Sold The World (ChangesNowBowie Version)” would be on the CD/LP version only….

Steven Roberts

I do wish the label would take a more considered approach to Bowie’s legacy, rather than ensuring a constant stream of random ‘product’.

Who for example wouldn’t be up for Tull style releases of Bowie’s albums – properly curated, boat loads of extras, live stuff, 5.1, essay…and not costing the earth?

OK, probably asking too much on that *last* one – but the others?


Anyone looking for further evidence of Parlophone’s lack of quality control can perhaps stop here.
The version released on streaming services is totally different to the version on the officially released video.
The video version includes the original Tin Machine lyrics, while the streaming version has the revised Ice Storm lyric.

I’m happy with the error because it means we have both, but I do wonder if this is intentional or not.

Brian Smith

The best song he wrote in Tin Machine.

Mr Smyth

OK but not a patch of the angry raw Tin Machine version.