poison to the mind


the incompleat… #1

You know my favourite thing about the current trend for elaborate remaster programs for a band's entire catalogue, coupling every album with a discful of b-sides, singles, remixes, demos and phone messages from the drummer's mum? It's that in so many cases, I'd never bothered to 'upgrade' from vinyl or tapes, so I don't feel like I'm getting rooked. A victory for poverty and laziness!

Though there are still enough gaps left in the archival decisions to let the gleeful purchaser have a faint taste of disappointment left. The Cure's b-sides box-set had the odd head-scratcher, and became spottier and spottier as it went along, but the promise was that everything it left behind would be picked up by the bonus discs on the album reissues to follow. But then Three Imaginary Boys turns up, the best part of a year on, and - sure - has non-LP single "Boys Don't Cry" on the bonus disc, but then - huh? - omits debut single "Killing An Arab." Even though "Arab"'s b-side, "10:15 Saturday Night", got to be on both the B-side comp and the debut album. And it's on the first singles compilation, too!

So one begins to fear how wonky things might go on future issues. Will the "pop trilogy" of early-80s singles be stuck on the next album's bonus disc, orphaned like "Arab" for some mega-redundant future collection, or appear in their best-known form in a remastered version of the Japanese Whispers compilation, despite the fact that all the bsides that filled out that album were flogged two years before on the box set...

And, to draw somewhat closer to the nub of today's post, what of 1990 remix anthology Mixed Up? At the time a mixture of earlier 12" versions, new reworkings of recent and older tracks, and on a couple of occasions, dance mixes of new recordings of early singles (because the masters had been lost). This time around, it could be an opportunity to become an uber-archive of Cure remixes over the years - or just a two-disc version, with the second shiny bit of plastic skimpily collecting auxiliary mixes from the original project: the vinyl version went one longer than the CD, and a single was released with three more new mixes ...but! one of these has been on a singles comp since, and another was included on Join The Dots, the Bs-box, ostensibly rendering it off-limits, so perhaps Mixed will be skipped, as with the live albums?

In which case... WHITHER "PRIMARY (RED MIX)"? This splendid reworking of the 1981 original by On-U Sound affiliate David Harrow is one of the best tracks to result from the entire project, and yet it has languished, unknown and unloved, on the b-side of an out-of-print 12" for the last fifteen years. Will the increasingly-unpredictable Robert Smith, lately sacking members and re-recording '70s tracks for internet corporations, rescue it or continue to overlook it? Tune in to a release schedule sometime next year for clues, I guess, and in the meantime make the most of this recording from my copy:

The Cure - Primary (red mix) [from Close To Me (Closest Mix) 12", 1990]

the official store attached to the Cure's website is pretty appallingly shitless, carrying only one of the four remasters, ignoring the box set, and including among the sparse products it does deign to carry, a dodge US compilation never heartily approved by Smiff. You can get the CD version of Mixed Up from there, though.

More on this theme tomorrow - I seem to have blethered on, and you probably need a rest.

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