The Cure – Mixed Up (Deluxe Edition) – Shaken AND Stirred (review)

The Cure – Mixed Up and Torn Down (Deluxe Edition (Rhino)

In the Aftermath of Their Biggest Success, the Cure Turn to Remixes

In October of 1989, The Cure found themselves sitting at #2 on the Billboard Pop Charts in the US with their hit, “Lovesong.” Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Janet Jackson and New Kids on the Block sure made for strange bedfellows, and no one is prepared for that kind of runaway success, even if the band had already been together for over ten years at that point. Rather than trying to immediately followup this success, leader Robert Smith came up with a novel idea: remix some of the band’s catalog. Thus, the original, 1990 album Mixed Up was born.

The original album has now been expanded to a deluxe, three-disc set. Disc one is the original Mixed Up record, newly remastered. Disc two, Remixes 1982-1990, features eleven, classic 12-inch remixes, many making their debut on CD. Finally, Disc three, Torn Down: Mixed Up Extras 2018, features 16 brand-new remixes of Cure classics, all done by Smith within the last year.

What began as a way to stall between albums ended up being a stroke of genius. Mixed Up takes ten Cure tracks and quite often, guts them and completely retools them for the dancefloor, essentially predicting the House and Techno crazes. Some tracks are subtle changes, emphasizing the beat more, as in “Lullaby,” and “Lovesong,” fresh off their hit album, Disintegration. Other times, it’s almost impossible to recognize the original song. A couple of early singles, “The Walk,” and “A Forest,” get vast facelifts, speeding the tempo up and adding Techno beats.

“Close to Me” slows the original rhythm down and adds some bump and grind percussion. “Fascination Street” gets a workover, stripping away the track, upping the bass and adding harp. Some tracks aren’t improvements – the new version of “Pictures of You” slows down the tempo, adds a shuffle beat and kind of kills the mood, while the revamped “Hot Hot Hot” de-emphasizes the funk that was on the original, making it kind of hollow, while “Inbetween Days” takes a great pop song and destroys it with pointless dance beats.

The lone new song, “Never Enough,” is a decent dance rocker that hit #1 on the Modern Rock charts in 1990.

Disc two features classic 12 inch remixes, many of which are making their debut on CD. The original dance mix of “Close to Me” features some interesting horn parts, while the extended “Why Can’t I Be You” still holds up well. “Three Imaginary Boys,” an album cut from 1979, is transformed from a rather primitive pounder into a slinky, electronic number, same goes for “A Strange Day,” which features some interesting percussion. Not everything works – the “Just Like Heaven” remix seems to just lay there.

Disc three features brand-new remixes, but honestly it’s hard to keep your focus here with so much music. The b-side, “Just One Kiss,” is vastly improved into an eerie dance track, while “A Night Like This” goes from a fairly standard rocker to a funky cut with a sax solo, while “Like Cockatoos,”an album track from Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, gets deconstructed. “Never Enough,” the song that spawned the original Mixed Up project is presented in a much more raw form.

The Cure’s Mixed Up album would prove to be ahead of the curve as the alternative music scene veered more and more toward dance over the next decade. This new set offers fans a chance to hear a bevy of Cure songs in a different light. —Tony Peters