1011 Woodland

The Fixx

CMC International Records, 1999


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Back in the '80s, The Fixx were considered one of the top New Wave artists of their time. Tracks like "One Thing Leads To Another," "Saved By Zero" and "Are We Ourselves?" are still heard on the radio from time to time today. But something happened later in the '80s: the public's ever-fickle tastes changed, and Cy Curnin and crew were left on the side of the musical highway.

Despite this, The Fixx have always maintained a decent level of interest, enough to bring forth their reunion disc Elemental last year. (We reviewed it thanks to Jeff Dinkins; I still owe Jeff a disc in return.) Now, Curnin and company look back on their career by moving their old favorites into the new millenium with 1011 Woodland.

In one sense, I questioned why the band didn't just record a full live album to accomplish the same means, but I guess that's what the album React was for. In another sense, I wondered how they could revive interest in some of these songs by recording new versions of them. But even for the diehard fan who probably knows the lyrics to each song, this disc is a nice treasure trove - even if it is less rock and more contemporary sounding.

The band - vocalist Curnin, guitarist Jamie West-Oram, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, bassist Chris Tait and drummer Adam Woods - seems to recognize that they are treading on holy ground by daring to remake tracks like "Saved By Zero" and "One Thing Leads To Another," but they also realize that music changes with the passage of time, and they were eager to share these new snapshots with their fans.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Now, I don't claim to be a whiz-kid when it comes to The Fixx; I have a few of their albums in the Pierce Memorial Archives, but I'm not well-schooled in them. So, 1011 Woodland is like taking in a big gulp of fresh air to me; the diehard fans might occasionally feel otherwise.

The Fixx draw heavily on the first three albums of their career, which also matches the height of their popularity. Tracks like "Cameras In Paris," "Stand Or Fall" and "Red Skies" (all originally on Shuttered Room) sound like new life was poured into them, and the more gentle musical touch - not as keyboard heavy - seems to make all the difference. It doesn't work as well on tracks like "Saved By Zero" and "One Thing Leads To Another" (both off Reach The Beach), but neither track is horribly changed. (I do wonder, though, why The Fixx ignored some of their better-known songs from Phantoms, like "Are We Ourselves?", "Sunshine In The Shade" and "Less Cities, More Moving People". I mean, they had the room, with the second disc clocking in at just over 35 minutes.)

But there is enough variety on 1011 Woodland to keep even the diehard fans' ears tuned in for each twist and turn. They even made me interested in listening to Ink again, though the last time I listened to it while I was in college radio, I hated it. (The versions of "One Jungle" and "Still Around" are quite good.) Only Walkabout seems to get the short end of the stick, having only one song - "Secret Separation" - culled from it. Elemental, their last release, even gets one song on this disc.

1011 Woodland is really not meant to be a greatest hits package; there are enough of those on the marketplace to saturate that need. Nor is it meant to be a live album, another hole plugged by React and a session from the King Biscuit Flower Hour. Instead, it is meant to be the portrait of a band looking back over the course of 20 years and seeing what contributions they have made to the musical scenery. What 1011 Woodland suggests is that they made more of a mark on the land than most music fans would admit to these days.

While Elemental was a decent effort, 1011 Woodland is definitely the album that has rekindled my interest in this British band. Chances are, if you give this two-disc set a shot, you'll experience the same awakening.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.