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It Started With A Mix

The Cure: Selecting The Best For One Side Of A C90
John Doran , October 27th, 2008 15:09

To celebrate the release of their 13th album, permanently teenage Cure fan John Doran recommends a primer to get you in the mood for crimping and back combing, culled solely from album tracks.

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The Cure

The Cure

From: Crawley, West Sussex, UK
Genres: Alternative, gothic, post punk
Years active: 1976 - date
Key members: Robert Smith (vocals/guitar/keyboards), Simon Gallup (bass), Lol Tolhurst (drums/keyboards), Porl Thompson (guitars), Jason Cooper (drums), Perry Bamonte (guitar/bass), Boris Williams (drums)
Associated acts: The Creatures, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Glove, Mogwai, 65 Days of Static, Interpol, Muse, Depeche Mode
Albums: Three Imaginary Boys (1979); Seventeen Seconds (1980); Faith (1981); Pornography (1982); The Top (1984); The Head On The Door (1985); Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987); Disintegration (1989); Wish (1992); Wild Mood Swings (1996); Bloodflowers (2000); The Cure (2004); 4:13 Dream (2008)

Side A

1. 'One Hundred Years'

“It doesn’t matter if we all die” begins Pornography, The Cure’s gothic piece de resistance - a laudably existential opening salvo on this acid fuelled, sensuous and senseless gape into the void. A queasy, lurching guitar line snakes over hissing and processed post punk disco hi hats as the never-ending LSD conveyor belt keeps on trundling atrocities into view. There may be a fine line between idiocy and genius with this kind of angst ridden caper but Smith’s body horror and churning brain make this non-more compelling. “A sound like a tiger, thrashing in the water”? That’s living alright.

2. ‘Fire In Cairo’

The Cure really are hilarious. They don’t care what you don’t think. Especially if you’re a punk rocker. Always famed for their amazingly long (or punishingly self-indulgent if you’re not a fan) sets, they laugh at the notions of brevity the scene that spawned them expected. They used to do versions of ‘A Forest’ that would last longer than some CRASS gigs. At recent gigs they’ve even played all of Three Imaginary Boys as their second encore! Ha ha ha! Take that old punk rockers! Is it past your bed time? This is my favourite out of that Mohican-sporting dash of songs.

3. ‘A Strange Day’

The closest you get to a moment of relief on Pornography is still a mournful look down the barrel of a gun. Smith’s acid-fried jabber becomes the calm delivery of the seer who already knows it’s too late. The music strangely puts me in mind of Coleridge’s Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner.

4. ‘Push’

Is this the greatest single The Cure never released? Is Head On The Door alternative rock’s very own Thriller, with every song a stone cold classic? How much should Simon Gallup be held culpable, every time you see a piece of an iceberg breaking off and falling into the sea on the news? Some questions to ponder while listening to this stadium sized, just on the right side of being U2 rocker.

5. ‘A Night Like This’

When I was a teenager I watched the very images off a VHS copy of Staring At The Sea, the ace video collection of promos (mainly directed by Tim Pope) and this track was the incongruity, seemingly tacked on to the end. With its high-production values matching the air-brushed 80s AOR sound, with sax solo and everything, the song was obviously lined up to be a single in America. Anyway this track, which never surfaced as a single in the end, still speaks of unrequited love like a John Hughes film made audio.

6. ‘M’

The proto-Nirvana, melancholy strum of ‘M’ was dedicated to Mary Poole, Smith’s teenage sweetheart who he eventually married in 1988. The lyrics are hardly the most romantic: “You'll fall in love with somebody else again tonight / Take a step / You move in time / But it's always back... / The reasons are clear / Your face is drawn / And ready for the next attack.” If she was hoping for something a bit more conventionally romantic from ‘Love Song’, another song dedicated to her in 1989, she was to be disappointed again . . .

7. ‘The Kiss’

After the breakthrough of Head On The Door label bosses at Fiction must have voided in their knickers when they heard the opening salvo from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, a tar black, churning ketamine lurch of proto-post rock guitars with a clearly distressed Smith yelling: “Get your fucking voice / Out of my head / I never wanted this / I never wanted any of this / I wish you were dead.” And presumably they were then extra relieved to hear ‘Hot Hot Hot!!!’, ‘Catch’, ‘Why Can’t I Be You?’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’.

8. ’10.15 Saturday Night’

Originally the B-side to ‘Killing An Arab’, this track with its onomatopoeic “drip, drip, drip” played on the closed hi-hat, eschews all overblown angst of the A-side in favour of a much more interesting and suburban,(sitting in the) kitchen sink drama over whether she will or won’t phone the protagonist. And it also ends on a bass coda that probably everyone of a certain age could still play if it they put their mind to it.

9. ‘From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea’

So The Cure went totally rubbish after Disintegration did they? Rubbish. While the ever so slightly aggravating ‘Friday, I’m In Love’ was penetrating the charts like an unexpected and unwanted rectal examination, on the whole Wish proved to be more of a reflective affair, with this the aqueous and stadium sized song making the centre piece.

10. ‘Carnage Visors’

Not strictly an album track as such, rather the soundtrack to the film of the same name made by Simon Gallup’s brother Ric that The Cure used to screen instead of a support act during The Picture Tour in 1981. But the lengthy soundtrack first became available on the B-side of the cassette version of mope-fest Faith and is an appropriate instrumental for us to fill up the rest of the remaining space on the first side of the cassette.

Side B

  1. Clock DVA - ‘Four Hours’
    2. Siouxsie and the Banshees - ‘Spellbound’
    3. Sisters of Mercy - ‘Body Electric’
    4. Bauhaus - ‘Rose Garden Funeral of Sores’
    5. Alien Sex Fiend - ‘Ignore The Machine’
    6. The Birthday Party - ‘Sonny’s Burning’
    7. Magazine - ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’
    8. Warsaw - ‘Leaders Of Men’
    9. Tubeway Army - ‘Down In The Park’
    10. Marc Riley and the Creepers - ‘Baby’s On Fire’
    11. Killing Joke - ‘Psycche’
    12. The Cocteau Twins - ‘The Spangle Maker’

Read our review of 4:13 Dream here.

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Alex Burrows
Oct 28, 2008 8:08am

You want to swap out A Night Like This for The Upstairs Room - a gem from their otherwise dull as fuck Japanese Whispers/The Top era, but otherwise it's all gold. How about Splintered In Her Head from the Unavailable B-Sides? Completely agree about Push. Just bought a new iPod and used that for testing it after the first synch. I'm concerned about it getting over-exposed by its use on Dragon's Den, mind.

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Hugh Platt
Oct 28, 2008 9:33am

'Ignore The Machine'? That's just wrong.

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Young Gunner
Nov 5, 2008 11:14am

Where's The Figurehead? Or In Your House? And nothing at all from Faith? Or Lament?

How about A Blues In Drag by The Glove? Or even some of Nocturne the live album by the Banshees (with Smith on guitar). OK, I won't go on.

Surely a full C90 of songs by The Cure isn't too difficult to put together...?!

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John Doran
Nov 5, 2008 12:38pm

In reply to Young Gunner:

It's not hard. It's the format of the feature. We do a mix tape with one side as an introduction to the band (along a theme) and the other side with music that would sit well alongside it.

You can't surely be saying that you'd choose 'The Figurehead' over 'Strange Day' or 'One Hundred Years'? In retrospect, I should have included 'Anniversary' to include a recent tune.

Yeah, there's nothing from 'Faith' because that is an album that begs to be listened to in entirety if ever there was one.

I think my mix is pretty good, all things considered.

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Young Gunner
Nov 7, 2008 10:36am

OK I get it. Overall it's a pretty good selection. But if Carnage Visors was left off then there would be room for some of my suggestions... And The Figurehead is a much better track than Carnage Visors - which will probably just serve to make most newcomers fast forward to side 2! (I have no idea what 'Anniversary' is though).

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May 21, 2012 3:44pm

In reply to John Doran:

The Figurehead definitely deserves a spot.

After A Hundred Years, it's the best song on the album.

"Like an old painted doll in the throes of dance..."


I happened to be taking acid 20 years ago when I was first getting into this album, and it's never left me...

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Aug 1, 2012 5:23pm

I enjoyed the comment about watching the spots of your VHS of Staring at the Sea. Same here. It was probably a bit sick how much I studied that thing. I bought a terrible, ill-fitting, over sized ugly light green suit based on the grey thing Smith is wearing in A Night Like This. In fact my whole wardrobe came from this video collection. Man that depresses me to think back to those years. "I'll empty you ... as empty as a boy can be." hmmm

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Luke Burford
Aug 24, 2012 8:50pm

Carnage Visors is a great choice, the sound and atmosphere of Faith, whilst as mentioned in the comments not singling out one of album tracks to be heard out of the context of a proper album (they don't make them like that any more etc)

I *still* think they went off a cliff after Disintegration though, a couple of tracks on Wish notwithstanding.

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