The Twisted Bell

Heaven's Open

Date: Tue Oct 08 11:15:45 1996
Subject: Lyrics

Hmm. It appears that Mike's lyrical awfulness may be even less obvious to non-native-English-speakers than I had thought...

I've been asked to provide more examples of Mike's awful lyrics, and I certainly would like to rise to that challenge, though I think I've repressed most of them!

HO is, of course, a particularly rich source. From memory (and so please excuse an incorrect word here or there):

'Here I hang on that hook, line and sinker/Don't take the skin off my fingers'

(Ugh. Thank you for planting that particularly attractive image in my mind. And stop pronouncing 'deficient' in such a strange way just to get it to rhyme.)

'Mona Lisa, you can stop searchin'/Don't you know we're not Virgin'

(And just what has the Mona Lisa got to do with a tirade against Virgin Records, is what I'd like to know. And why are we 'not Virgin'? If 'we're on the Make Make', surely then we are supposed to be Virgin, or is the whole song directed at somebody else? Or are we supposed to be not virgin as in the actual meaning of the word, in which case it's a joke, ohhh, I get it... well it's a pretty poor bloody joke Mike, make no mistake!)


Date: Tue Dec 10 11:04:37 1996
Subject: Re: MFTB

Pedro wrote:

Hey! I like Music From the Balcony! It's fun, diverse, has great quality production. Plus it's got all those double meanings in it. I like it a lot.

Somehow I knew that would bring them out of the woodwork... Don't worry Pedro, you're not alone. Quite a few people here have defended MFTB.

But I'm not one of them! >:)

Yes, MFTB has great quality production, I'll grant you that; but so have a lot of albums these days - it doesn't follow that the music is therefore good. Yes, it's reasonably diverse, but it's not diverse enough - it's only got a few themes done in a kind of alternating cut-and-paste, not nearly as cleverly-done as Mike's best instrumentals. Double meanings? Maybe, but they're not particularly subtle either. Fun? Each to his or her own, I guess.

My favourite bits of MFTB: the bit that sounds like a breaking thunderstorm in the tropics (particularly good on headphones); the first introduction of the end theme on the piano.

My unfavourite bits: every single time the crazy noisy jazz section bursts in and interrupts the flow of the music. Even if the quiet bits are robot music, they at least have an integrity of their own - until they're rudely interrupted.

MFTB: Mike's Foolish Tune-Blending.


Date: Mon Dec 16 09:52:01 1996
Subject: Re: HO

Bruce wrote

Now those are the first kind words I've read about HO. I had written it off, based on the bad press it gets here, but now I'm gonna have to give it a try.

Some while ago a few of us were saying nice things about the title track. Ever since I first heard it it's been my favourite Mike vocal song, bar none. A couple of the other songs aren't bad either. It's just MFTB that makes me reach for the off-button (though 'Gimme Back' has me reaching for fast-forward).

I was thinking on the weekend, is there any Mike album that I wish didn't exist? And I'd have to say no. Every single one has redeeming features, even if it's only one or two tracks (and of course, many of them are one non-stop redeeming feature!).


Date: Tue Sep 09 10:28:56 1997
Subject: All that jazz

I'd probably better wade into this MFTB/jazz thread, seeing that I sparked it off with a flippant off-the-cuff comment (isn't it great how you can do that on this list?). I was, of course, not being wholly serious, BUT there was a serious side to the comment - i.e., there IS a MFTB/jazz connection, whether you like it or not. It's not that MFTB is jazz - all you jazz experts have said it isn't. It is, as Gareth said, that Mike was attempting to incorporate jazz elements into his music. This is not a matter of debate: it's on the record, in an interview he conducted in the early 1990s, that at this time the only Mike was listening to was a jazz station on London radio. And, as happens with Mike quite regularly (visits clubs in Ibiza -> releases interminable techno remixes) those influences rubbed off onto the music. He went out and hired Courtney Pine, as Gareth said - and MFTB is his 'most jazzy' piece - i.e., it rates a 1.15 on a scale of 1 (H.R. Pufnstuf) to 10 (Miles Davis).

But it's not jazz. Neither is 'Moonshine' bluegrass, as we have heard from a bluegrass expert here in the past; neither is Voyager much like traditional Celtic music; neither is 'Taurus III' flamenco; neither is the end of 'Ommadawn pt 1' African; neither is 'The Wind Chimes' gamelan; neither is any of Mike's instrumental music what you'd call 'rock'n'roll'. That's the whole point! Mike is Mike! He's not any of that other stuff! And no matter how hard he tries, his music always ends up sounding more like Mike than whatever it is he's been influenced by (possible exception: Voyager). However, it often reminds us of a whole range of other musical styles, while melding them all together into something unique. That's one of the many good things about his music. Yes?

Jeez, and I don't even like MFTB in the first place. I don't care what musical style it is. 'Crapulent', I would guess.


Date: Thu Sep 25 10:39:53 1997
Subject: Heaven's Open: The Trailer

Paul and Jeff wrote:

>Don't you think it's odd that he
>would use his name in the form that usually is reserved for only his
>closest friends and family, and use it for something he wanted to
>distance himself from?

Now that is an interesting point, Paul. I always assumed it was a "distancing" gesture also...but yeah, he is called Michael by his'd think that would make this album all the more personal...hmmm

[Voiceover in deep American tones:]

He was a musician - looking for revenge. His friends knew him as Michael, but the world knew him as Mike: Mike Oldfield.

[Music: first bars of TB. Cut to shot of dark alleyway with shadowy figure (Mike) looming at the far end. Camera gradually closes in on his face behind the following:]

For eighteen years he had been biding his time, recording album after album of brilliant, gifted music. For eighteen years he had seen that music ignored and derided by the very record company founded on its proceeds... a record company run by... this man.

[Cut to red-filtered close-up of a grinning Richard Branson. Music switches to quick blast of end of 'Bones'. Camera pulls back to reveal that Branson is standing next to Margaret Thatcher.]

[Cut back to Mike, in studio, throwing all his guitars into a big pile and hauling out his oldest, crappiest synth. Music: finale of 'doo doo' section of 'The Lake'.]

Now, Michael Oldfield has had enough. Branson has taken his best - now he's getting his worst. And for the first time, Michael is using... his own name.

[Shot of snarling Mike smashing the keyboard around the room, while Tom Newman stands to the side holding out a microphone. Music: 'Gimme Back'.]

HEAVEN'S OPEN: this time, it's personal.

[Credits shot, under a blast of the finale of 'MFTB'.]

Oldfield Music presents
A Michael Oldfield/Thomas Newman Production
Michael Oldfield - Thomas Newman - Courtney Pine
Lyrics and Music by Michael Oldfield
Based on an Original Theme from an Old Hand-Held Videogame
Directed by Michael Oldfield and Thomas Newman
Executive Producer Richard Branson
A Virgin Records Release (P) + (C) Virgin Records 1991
Rated R-18: Contains abusive language and antisocial behaviour

The Twisted Bell

©2001 Rory Ewins