The Cure: Selecting The Best For One Side Of A C90

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.

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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