Wonderwall – Mike Flowers Pops

Wonderwall

Mike Flowers Pops

1995

London Records / Systematic Records

Ok, I know, I know.  This feels like a huge ripoff.  I’m totally cheating right now.  I’m reviewing an obscure E.P. with only three songs on it.  Honestly, it completely feels like I’m cheating.  But, I’ve got work to do for school, it’s two days before Thanksgiving, and, well, it’s going to get reviewed sooner or later.  It is in my record collection, and I have listened to it.  So, it is going to get reviewed no matter what.

Anyway, a little history.  “Wonderwall” by Oasis came out in 1995, and could easily be their most popular song.  This version also came out in 1995, and is definitely Mike Flowers Pops most popular song (despite an inclusion of “Call Me” into the soundtrack for Austin Powers).  When this second version came out, it was mistaken (and purposely rumored by BBC1) as the original song, a humorous anecdote that is completely false.  And, fourteen years later, after hearing about this lounge version for a while (as I’ve been a huge Oasis fan – although I’m not nearly obsessed with them as I used to be – I have heard and read about numerous versions of Oasis’ songs and other details about the band that no one would ever care about), I came across a used cd of the E.P. in a local Coconuts.  The price was a quarter.  Honestly.  Actually, probably ten percent less because I have a Backstage Pass card.  But still, I think you catch my point – which is, if you come across such a strange, obscure recording of a popular song for twenty-five cents, you buy it.

So, the E.P. starts with, of course, the infamous version of “Wonderwall.”  The opening is a cool, recreated vinyl crackle which gives way to the music of The Super Stereo Brass – Mike Flowers backup band.  It’s an uptempo swing, with Flowers playing guitar, and then singing.  And, you can’t help but laugh.  Not at the song, because it’s a really good version of the song.  But it makes you smile.  It really does.  The Sound Superb Singers (Flowers’ backup vocal group) provide very ’60’s sounding backup singing.  It’s essentially a lounge version, kind of like the more popular Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine.  But Flowers gets props for doing this first.  So, the melody hasn’t changed too much, but Flowers does alter the “And after all, you’re my wonderwall” line, making it choppier and happier.  And it’s followed by a really cheesy brass line, which makes the song so awesome.  The cd was totally worth the quarter just for this song.

The next song features one of the Sound Superb Singers, Juliet Morel.  “Son of God” is a duet with her and Flowers, again.  It starts with a slow, keyboard line.  One that makes me wish I could play keyboard that well.  Not that it sounds particularly hard, it’s just a nice, pretty line.  When the singing starts (Morel is the first to sing), a harpsichord is heard as well.  And I love harpsichord.  Morel’s voice is genuinely a beautiful voice, great quality.  But, ugh, I hate the style.  This song sounds more serious than “Wonderwall” was.  Flowers has a very good tonal quality to his voice, as well.  “Son of God” is a very cheesy song, and not in a good way.  They take it too serious.  Coming after “Wonderwall” it sounds very contrived.  It’s a nice song, decent music, the singers are very good, just, it’s boring.  Yeah.

“Theme From Memory Man” is an all-instrumental song, bringing back the comical aspect of Mike Flowers Pops.  I mean, drum machines, horribly cheesy keyboards, and just getting an orchestra to provide background and harmony to that really annoying melody?  It’s brilliant.  I’d say the song would be boring because it’s so repetitive with no noticeable changes, but that’d be a lie.  Truth is, if you’re already listening to the song, you’re going to be entertained until the end. 

Mike Flowers Pops (or The Mike Flowers Pops Orchestra, whatever you’d rather call them) are so overtly cheesy, you have to like them.  They, or Flowers, knows that they, or he, is so already so corny, that the music works.  Except for maybe “Son of God.”  But even that has some decent aspects to the song.  And even so, “Wonderwall” is so fun to listen to, the E.P. is worth it.  Also, and though it’s random, look at the Amazon page for this album (under the “Buy This Album” link below).  I think it’s awesome that under “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” is Radiohead’s In Rainbows.  Not that that pertains to anything, it just gives you more of an idea how seriously this band has been taken.  Which is what this E.P. is all about.  Not being taken seriously.

[Ed. Note:  I Still managed about 800 words for this album, which, I don’t really think you can consider “cheating.”  I’d be the worst “cheater” is I did anything like that in high school.  “No, teacher, I didn’t do the vocabulary assignment.  But I did look up all the words in the dictionary, and wrote down not only their definitions, but also used them in sentences.  I just didn’t feel like spelling them five times each.”  Yeah, I think 800 words for three songs is pretty damn good.]

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