3 out of 5
Label: Lo Recordings
Produced by: Various
Reading about Mr. Flowers, it seems that the key I might’ve been missing is my geographic location: I would probably have been aware of Pops’ chart-topping cheeky takes on classics had I been living across seas, namely their cover of Wonderwall. And ‘cheeky’ is probably the wrong descriptor, as the group’s output has likely shifted them over to the second category described: There’s likely more skill to putting together the retro vibe of Freebase than I realize.
The original version of which starts us off, besides the production fidelity, could absolutely be an easy-listening single from the 60s, with its bright horns or group ‘dah dah’ chants and flourishes of keys and (sparkles). To me it’s not particularly engaging, but I can see the appeal to people with deeper musical appreciations than mine, a la Richard James.
Or it’s a gas. Or it’s a work for hire. Who knows.
The remixes are all pretty good, smartly approaching the source from various electro angles, but James’ take is almost the most restrained, which ends up being indicative of a pattern: No one really goes nuts here; they all seem rather restrained by the original. Which makes for an interesting but not too memorable listen.
James lays down somewhat of a typical IDM clatter over things, Richard D. James album era, but once he lets that spin for a bit he opens up, getting pretty trippy on the tracks back third. But it cuts short before building beyond that. Like Vibert actually gives us the more effective variant of this, leaning into the kitsch and manipulating it in funky ways.
The Mellowtrons deliver something very fitting of their name, very Stereolab, though – see my overriding observation – it builds its groove and then not much more.
Slang and Funki Porcini have, to me, the best variations on the theme, the former stepping between grime and funk and the latter chopping and screwing the beats but keeping it danceable. In both cases the source is detuned to heavily altered elements, thus letting the acts more effectively marry it with their own styles.
De Chico rounds things out with a chill out version, perhaps the flattest rendition out of the bunch but an appreciable conclusion to balance things.