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As I continue to upload my music collection to the cloud (both to ditch albums I no longer listen to, and to save space), I am listening to albums I haven't listened to in the longest time. There was never any doubt I was going to keep this album, as I am a big Cure fan, but wondered if I would enjoy this album now as much as I did when I first bought it 1990. I have especially fond memories of this album as it was one of about 5 I took with me working on campsites in France for 4 months, so I listened to it a lot!
Released in 1990 on Fiction Records, 'Mixed Up' was something of a departure for The Cure, as it was a compilation album of re-mixes and extended versions of previously released material, and was a bit of a departure from its goth-rock bread and butter. Robert Smith actually said that after the 'doom and gloom' of the previous years 'Disintegration' album, they wanted something a bit lighter. As some master tapes were missing from previous albums, some songs for 'Mixed Up' had to be completely re-recorded, and for others Robert Smith had to re-record his lyrics.
Although remix albums these days are relatively common (its a nice, lazy way to bring in some more money) they were less so then; This album was also in no way a cheap cash-in, as songs are re-worked, re-recorded and given a new 'dance-floor' flavour. I remember at the time a lot of Cure purists disliked it, and didn't buy it, because it was such a departure, but then, I don't think they were the target audience. It was an attempt, for me, to try and get The Cure some exposure in the dance music market. Less radio-friendly, more 'doing what we want'. I bought it, and enjoyed it a lot at the time.
Does it still stand up? Lets see..
1. "Lullaby (Extended Mix)" 7:43
2. "Close to Me (Closer Mix)" 5:44
3. "Fascination Street (Extended Mix)" 8:47
4. "The Walk (Everything Mix)" 5:27
5. "Lovesong (Extended Mix)" 6:19
6. "A Forest (Tree Mix)" 6:55
7. "Pictures of You (Extended Dub Mix) 6:41
8. "Hot Hot Hot!!! (Extended Mix)" 7:01
9. "The Caterpillar (Flicker Mix)" 5:40
10. "In Between Days (Shiver Mix)" 6:22
11. "Never Enough (Big Mix)" 6.07
with 11 tracks, and 74 minutes of music, you are certainly getting a lot of bang for your buck, as they say.
The album starts with 2 of the strongest tracks, 'Lullaby' and 'Close To Me', which have two of the best riffs/ melodies of all The Cure songs, and the extra running time suits the songs well. Lullaby is just an extended cut, with an extra 3 minutes, but this gives the song a nice new dimension. Top producer Paul Oakenfold (then Happy Mondays producer) did the remix on 'Close To You', throwing in a bit of hip-hop and jazz horns, making this possibly my favourite version.
'Fascination Street' is a nearly 9 minutes long extended cut, with 4 minutes of instrumental at the beginning, but is excellent; Cure fans regard this as THE best version out there. 'The Walk' was one of the re-recorded tracks, and is one of the few on the album where the extended running time seems a little indulgent; sometimes a 3 1/2 min track is just that!(the main song 'hook' doesn't appear for 2 1/2 mins)
'Lovesong' is one of my favourite Cure tracks, and here we just get a perfectly fine extended version; no need to mess with a classic! Next up, 'A Forest', which has been given a genuine new lease of life by being re-recorded, and some of the bits Robert Smith wasn't quite happy with first time around have been tinkered with. Sounds quite similar to the original, but with added oomph!(still love that guitar riff)
'Pictures Of You' has been radically re-mixed, becoming a fusion of guitar rock and jamaican dub, and it works well. This song has proven to be really adaptable down the years (my favourite version is an acoustic one) and this is as good as any. Great lyrics too. 'Hot Hot Hot' is another extended track, coming in at 7 minutes, again perfectly fine. Not one of my personal favourites though.
'The Caterpillar' is a bit of an oddity, and a strange choice to be re-mixed. The original is a very 'bare' song, designed really just for an acoustic sound and to layer it with electronic production just seemed odd. Worst remix on the album for me, by a long way. 'In Between Days' was remixed by producer William Orbit, and is another one I don't really care for. The song gets lost in the over-production, and this mix does sound quite dated. The original is far superior.
The album closes out with a new song, 'Never Enough' a good old fashioned Cure rock track, perhaps thrown in to get some doubters to buy. It is a great track, great guitar riff, and something of a contrast to the rest of the more dance-influenced tracks. I love it, though, great stuff.
'Mixed Up' was reasonably successful (went Gold in the U.K, Platinum in the U.S) but not enough that they ever revisited the idea. I was surprised just how much I still like this album. With the exception of a couple of tracks, this is still a very good listen, which is a tribute to the songwriting of Robert Smith and the adaptability of The Cure's songs. A little less guitar, more keyboards, more electonica give The Cure a sound that is just different enough to be interesting.
On balance, I would still say I prefer the original versions of most of these, and the original albums above this one, but it's one that is definitely worth a listen.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Close To Me
3 Fascination Street
4 The Walk
5 Love Song
6 A Forest
7 Pictures Of You
8 Hot Hot Hot!!!
9 The Caterpillar
10 In Between Days
11 Never Enough