4 out of 5 stars
It took 30 years but The Cure’s founder/frontman Robert Smith finally finds closure on Wish (1992).
He is quoted as being unhappy with the first mastering of what turned out to be the band’s biggest-selling title because of a substandard bass mix along with other sonic issues. In lieu of releasing anything new (The Cure’s last album of fresh material was back in 2008), he revisits Wish to rejigger it using current technology; all in time for its 30th anniversary.
That provides this new three-CD deluxe/expanded edition with all the credibility needed. Anyone who already purchased it might want to do so again and those who missed the initial release can jump on now to experience one of The Cure’s finest works the way Smith intended.
Since other essential Cure albums have already gotten the upgraded treatment over a decade ago, it’s unclear what took so long for Wish to receive the same attention. Regardless, this is a significant overhaul that not only improves the original’s sound but adds 24 previously unreleased items (demos/live performances) for the ultimate incarnation of Wish.
As the follow-up to the critical and commercial success of the generally gloomy but bold Disintegration (1989), this seems brighter and more cheery. Certainly the hit “Friday I’m in Love” is peppier than anything in the previous collection. But other tracks such as the vibrant, even funky “Wendy Time” and the buoyant “High” breathe life and add color to the pasty-faced post-punk The Cure often radiated on such early ’80s albums as Pornography and Seventeen Seconds.
Those relatively upbeat titles balance the melancholy ones that Cure followers have come to expect. Smith considers the lovely, touching “Trust,” one of the best things we’ve ever done. At nearly eight minutes, “From the Edge of the Green Sea,” the album’s longest cut, is a somewhat hidden highlight in the band’s catalog. The appropriately titled closing “End,” also here in a crackling 1992 live version, is prime Cure as Smith laments and moans Please stop loving me over typically shadowy guitar/drums backup.
Discs two and three are packed (each runs over an hour) with early versions, many of them instrumental and/or remixes. These are generally for hardcore fans. While a few interesting nuggets appear (four from the band’s Lost Wishes EP make their digital debut leading off platter three) and the presentation is surprisingly crisp for demos, only the most dedicated will return to them often, or even at all.
This is a vault-clearing project, as anything touting itself as “deluxe” implies. And since Wish remains The Cure’s most popular effort, unearthing nascent forms of some songs is expected. An extensive interview with Smith in the booklet provides a detailed historical perspective on how the project unfolded back in 1992. Still, the real bonus is hearing the initial dozen tunes with enhanced audio, making this required listening for anyone even tangentially interested in the band.
Now, where is that new album?
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