Over the last few weeks, the upcoming digital EP of David Bowie rarities Is It Any Wonder? has been unveiled one song at a time. Today brings the fourth piece of the six-track effort, as a never-before-heard recording dubbed “Baby Universal ’97” has come online.
The original “Baby Universal”, co-written by Reeves Gabrels, originally appeared on Tin Machine’s final studio LP, 1991’s Tin Machine II. The band even performed it during their final Saturday Night Live appearance. Enamored with the track, Bowie re-recorded it for 1997’s Earthling, intending to sequence it between “I’m Afraid of Americans” and “Law (Earthlings on Fire)”. At the time, he said, “I thought ‘Baby Universal’ was a really good song and I don’t think it got heard. I didn’t really want that to happen to it, so I put it on this album… I think this version is very good.”
However, the updated rendition was eventually cut from the final version of the album. Now, we finally get to hear what Bowie’s solo take sounds like with the release of “Baby Universal ’97”. It’s a slightly cleaner mix, with Bowie’s voice pushed more forward over the ’80s industrial new wave sound of the guitars. Take a listen below, followed by Tin Machine’s original recording.
“Baby Universal ’97” follows previously unheard versions of “I Can’t Read”, “The Man Who Sold the World”, and “Stay”. All four tracks will be collected on the Is It Any Wonder? EP alongside two more songs expected in the coming weeks. Following that, the tracks will also appear on ChangesNowBowie will be released on Record Store Day, April 18th.