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Mixed feelings !!!!
on 2 July 2002
5 of the songs (which is almost HALF of the album kids!) have the subtitle of "Extended Mix" in brackets next to the songs title: Lullaby, Fascination Street, Lovesong, Pictures Of You (which fair enough is a dub version) and Hot Hot Hot. All of these, excepting Pictures Of You, do exactly what it says on the tin - they are just extended versions of the songs.
This sort of works with Lullaby (or you could always listen to the original and press the repeat button...), doesn't work at all for Lovesong (it's too "straight" a song to warrant long instrumental passages and simply has no excitement in this format), and Hot Hot Hot is also a bit lifeless unless you really do want to hear individual guitar lines playing for a minute at a time.
Pictures Of You is an interesting one as it's a full on Jamaican-dub version, while maintaining the guitars of the original. It's interesting because it's different, but ultimately a bit daft if you think about it for too long !!
Fascination Street is the one extended version that really works well. This is a testament really to how good the original version is. The original is so good that's it's always a shame when it ends, so what better a thing to do than have a really long version of it ! The majority of Cure fans (myself included) look on this extended mix to be superior and now consider it to be the definitive version, much the same as how many Star Wars fans think the Special Editions are better than the originals (I don't !).
OK then, now for the REAL remixes:
Close To Me was once a fast paced almost dance track, now it's a lazy, spaced out under a tree, mellow groove. This comes courtesy of Happy Monday's producer Paul Oakenfold and retains the feel of said band, very much in the style of Step On.
The Walk is a bit of a lie as again it isn't a remix as such. The band had lost the original master tapes for this song (and A Forest) so they ended up re-recording both. This is a good thing as the original version is sounding a bit dated these days (it was released 7 days after New Order's Blue Monday which is frightening given that the "bass" sequencer parts are virtually identical on both songs). I would have preferred to have seen an identical re-recording of this song, rather than another extended version (note to The Cure: not all remixes have to be extended versions long). As it is, this song is guilty of the same thing as most of the others. Some of the instrumental sections find you switching off your brain until the vocals come back in.
A Forest (the other re-recording) is really the highlight of this album. This is only slightly longer than the original (which is brilliant but terribly dated in sound), but that's only because of the long fade-out, so it more or less follows the original in structure at least. The original starts off with a simple four note intro keyboard intro and that's how this version starts. There is a difference though. Where the original had just one note held down at a time, this version has the same notes, but they are stabbed at rather than held down. This is extremely dancey and very brilliant. You really have to compare the two to appreciate the difference. Other than that there isn't a great deal of difference other than it's a nice meaty update of what was already a great song.
The Caterpillar is a song that should never have been remixed. It's a purely accoustic folk ditty, so to hear all of these crap electronic sounds over the top of it is purely evil. It is truly awful (oh that rubbish drum machine...grrr) and alongside the following song, Inbetween Days, is the joint lowest moment on the whole album.
The above comments apply for Inbetween Days, although it does have one interesting note which may be of historical interest to Madonna or All Saints fans. It's remixed by William Orbit (who essentially wrote Madonna's Frozen and All Saints Pure Shores and Black Coffee) and you can hear those songs in the beeping and blooping of this song, although essentially it is utter rubbish.
The last song is Never Enough, which is the obligatory new song that every compilation album simply "must" have these days.
Never Enough is pretty much The Cure's take on Jimi Hendrix, especially Purple Haze, and it must be said that the joint guitar work of vocalist Robert Smith and guitarist Porl Thompson really is outstanding (the band were a 4-piece when they recorded this, despite the presence of newcomer and 2nd guitarist Perry Bamonte in the video for the single). A lot of it sounds like a jam and completely unplanned, which makes it's appearance on a remix album all the stranger. But like I said, there was most likely a marketing concept behind this.
I do recommend this album for purchase, despite the couple of well dodgy mixes, but I would suggest that you put it at the bottom of your Cure wishlist and buy all of their proper studio albums first.