The Cure is one of those groups that seems to split
its own fans right down the middle. Do you like the
melancholy and gloomy side of Robert Smith’s creativity,
or are you one of the listeners who enjoys his more
accessible and pop-friendly work? Sometimes you can
certainly like both, but there are definitely those
fans who are deeply into albums like Pornography and Bloodflowers,
two major works by the band that can often be impenetrable
at times. As for this writer, I have to admit I’ve
always enjoyed the poppier side of the Cure. Not
that this collection of the band’s deep cuts won’t
include some of the darker shades Smith has offered
to his legions, but overall I’m one of those people
that enjoys the Cure more when it isn’t all about
the despair. Of course, I’m also 34 and don’t have
that young angst to wade through anymore. Still,
Robert Smith is older than that, and he can’t seem
to give up the ghost at all. Ah well, here are the
Cure’s deep cuts for your speculation. Note that
I’ve avoided the density of the Join the Dots box
set -- as that’s one massive Deep Cuts collection
in itself -- and have just mainly stuck to the original
albums, a couple singles and an EP.
"Plastic Passion" – Boys Don’t Cry
We’re working with the US debut album here, because frankly it’s better than Three Imaginary Boys. It was refitted with both A and B single sides and chopped out other stuff that dragged down the UK debut. "Plastic Passion" finds the Cure sounding positively New Wave unlike they ever had before or since. For that reason alone, you should enjoy this song. It also appears on the Join the Dots box set if you want to pay premium for it.
"Object" – Boys Don’t Cry
Okay, there’s one caveat here: this song only appears on the cassette version of Boys Don’t Cry for some odd reason. Otherwise, you’ll have to settle up for it on CD on Three Imaginary Boys. What a quandary. Still, the song finds Smith and Co. blasting out a bit of power pop while dealing with sexual plasticity. Hey, didn’t they do that on "Plastic Passion" as well?
"World War" – Boys Don’t Cry
This also only appears on the cassette. What the hell? This time, if you want it on CD, you’ll need to shell out for the deluxe two-disc version of Three Imaginary Boys. What needs to happen here is that a "deluxe" version of Boys Don’t Cry needs to be issued with all the songs that appeared on both its CD and cassette versions. Well, maybe not "So What."
"Fire in Cairo" – Boys Don’t Cry
Why Smith wasn’t enamored of these songs is beyond me. "F-I-R-E-I-N-C-A-I-R-O" is perhaps the catchiest chant ever laid down in a pop song. The music is lean and tight and finds Smith playing out some of the themes he began in "Killing an Arab."
"In Your House" – Seventeen Seconds
I haven’t heard this much phasing since Captain Beefheart’s Strictly Personal album. On their second album, the Cure got rid of a lot of the fun, fun, fun, but still maintained an accessibility that this semi-dark version flaunted. On this track, the slow beats and moody synths have already appeared and Robert Smith mopes about being in your house and stands out as that freak in the corner who just won’t shut up, have a drink and try to have a good time. Sheesh.
"M" – Seventeen Seconds
This is one last gasp at that whole New Wave style, and dare I say it, but it almost sounds Joe Jackson-ish. Just picture it being played on piano with no phasing and a sarcastic snarl in the voice and you’ll see what I mean. Hey Joe, maybe you should cover this tasty little nugget sometime.
"At Night" – Seventeen Seconds
Get ready for the fall into the pit of despair. "At Night" sports a sinister riff and those wide open spaces and long notes that the Cure are known for. It could be a piece with "In Your House," though slightly darker. Ah, but all that dark, dank goodness was about to rear its ugly head in full on the next album.
"All Cats Are Grey" – Faith
Unfortunately, the Faith album suffers from a lot of its songs sounding the same. Perhaps even Smith knew this, as this was the last album by the band to have its decided "sound" that envelops the first three discs. "All Cats Are Grey" is certainly dirge-like, but it’s also atmospheric in a way that many of the other songs on the album don’t share. Maybe it’s the echo on Robert’s voice, or maybe it’s just because that same old sounding guitar isn’t being worked out again here.
"Faith" – Faith
The title track is another tune with a bit of atmosphere, again the patented guitar sound isn’t being wrought through a bunch of the same rhythmic chords, and it’s just gloomy enough to not cause one to hide the razor blades. Robert sounds a bit desperate at the end, though.
"Primary" (Red Mix) – "Close
I’d like to give special mention to this version of "Primary" here. The song originally appeared on Faith, and this version is from the CD single for "Close to Me" that was released as part of the Mixed Up series of singles. In its remixed form, the song gets a lot of punch added to it, as well as an extended workout of that great chugging riff that propels it along. Definitely not a remix that sucks.
"A Short Term Effect" (Pornography)
Out with the old sound and in with the new. On Pornography, the Cure’s sound got a bit denser and Robert Smith’s muse got a whole lot darker. If I have to pick just one track from this album (one I’m otherwise not very enamored with), this one’s pretty tasty. The slowed-down vocal effects and backwards guitar work pretty well here, and the whole thing is not too overwrought.
"A Strange Day" – Pornography
This is the other tune from this album that I can get into. It’s almost like an update of the sound featured on Seventeen Seconds and Faith but with a bit better production and not all that phasing piled on top. Smith figured out he could be gloomy without resorting to that singular effect time and again. Hooray for sadness.
"Bananafisbones" – The Top
What can you say about this album? It’s pretty weird, and pretty different from everything else "the Cure" did, probably because it was Smith playing the majority of the parts here. He referred to the disc as "psychedelic" and maybe it was, in some ‘80s fashion, but more often than not it just sounds jumbled. On this song, Smith does his funky best while freaking out on some arsenic-laced acid trip.
"Bird Mad Girl" – The Top
Maybe Robert wanted to be Duran Duran on this song. Maybe he was just getting a bit fried with all those goodies he was ingesting at the time. It’s certainly better than any of the "dance" songs that David Bowie was crapping out at the time. Yes, you too can do the mashed potato to the Cure!
"Dressing Up" – The Top
Wheeee…Fat Bob goes off the deepest end here and just kind of lounges about in all the kookiness. There’s a sparkling sound to this track, and that pan flute or whatever the hell it is reminds me more of someone blowing on empty Coke bottles, furthering that notion of the sparkling, glass-like sound. Just let me have my own weird fantasies about these tunes, dammit.
"The Blood" – The Head on the Door
I remember as a teen watching some wacky evangelical show on TV one night discussing satanic rock albums. This one landed in their pile of musical evil. Don’t ask why, you know why. All for that "I am paralyzed by the blood of Christ" line. Gee, and I always took that as a kind of pro-Jesus statement. Call me crazy. No, just call me normal, unlike those idiots who look for the "satanic" in everything.
"Six Different Ways" – The Head
on the Door
In a way, this album is like the Cure’s version of Revolver. Each song is a perfect little pop tune with its own identity and sound, and is easily likable. The songs get in, do their job, and then get out. This one features some whimsical shit out of left field with bouncy piano, Smith doing his patented "do-do-do" and plenty of exotic instrumentation. What’s not to enjoy?
"Push" – The Head on the Door
This song makes it sound like the Cure have arrived, baby. Dig those cascading sheets of guitar at the opening, the big cinematical feel of the production, and the perfect riffs and melodies that all coalesce into something fine. Was Smith having a good time? If so, why didn’t he do this more often?
"Screw" – The Head on the Door
More people should use fuzz and/or distorted bass in their songs. That instrument is featured here doing the funky riff and Robert mopes in a joyous fashion about some person reacting to his nonsense. Too bad he’d take that shit to heart and get all sad again on us.
"Hey You!!!" – Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss
Go ahead and hate me, but this is one of those double albums that to my ears has too much shit on it. Here was the beginning of the Cure experimenting with those interminable songs that go nowhere wedged alongside some really tasty pop treats. This song finds Robert all excited and freaking out amongst some hot sax and horn lines. High school marching band Cure!
"The Perfect Girl" – Kiss Me Kiss
Me Kiss Me
Should have been a single and wasn’t. And that’s all that needs to be said.
"Untitled" – Disintegration
This is the only tune I’m picking from this album. The singles are groovy from Disintegration, but slogging through the other stuff, except for this track, always made me feel like I ran a 100 mile marathon after it was over. Just too much meandering and goofing about when some good music could have been made. "Untitled" pretty much tightens up the dreariness and gets the job done even as it mopes about the floor. Poor broken-hearted Robert. Get the hell over it already.
"Hot Hot Hot!!!" (Extended Mix), "Inbetween
Days" (Shiver Mix), "Never Enough" (Big Mix)
– Mixed Up
I always liked this album, despite other fans’ hatred of it, and here are the three reasons why. Each of these tunes gets a makeover that makes it funky without falling into remix overkill. Not all of the album is great, but it’s not bad at all as far as these sorts of things go.
"Harold and Joe," "Let’s Go to Bed"
(Milk Mix) – "Never
Enough" CD single
"Harold and Joe" could possibly be the greatest Cure B-side ever, while "Let’s Go to Bed" seems to be another Mixed Up session that just didn’t fit on the official album. The former is also available on the Join the Dots box set.
Bypassing Wish completely (file your complaints elsewhere), we arrive at…
"Club America" – Wild Mood Swings
Yeah, this album’s a mess. It’s hard to listen to all the way through and there’s a lot to digest. But this song is a nice little rave up, sort of echoing the hard rock grooviness of "Never Enough." Smith just wants to have some fun. Let him do it, people. He doesn’t get out enough.
"Where the Birds Always Sing" – Bloodflowers
Another album I could mostly do without is saved by this fine song. Nice acoustic guitars, the patented Cure electric guitar lines dotting the background and Robert Smith declaring "the world is neither fair nor unfair." So why all the sullenness, Bob? You’d think it wouldn’t be so bad after all this time.
"Before Three" – The Cure
It’s the only song from this otherwise bland album that I don’t want to skip. Ah, Robert, maybe you should seriously think about calling it a day. But you’ve got that other album on the way, so is it going to be a gigantic surprise, or more of the same?
"Boys Don’t Cry" – The Peel Sessions
I wanted to end this Deep Cuts on an up note, so do yourselves a favor and enjoy the entire four-song EP that this track was taken from. They’re all fine semi-live cuts of Boys Don’t Cry tracks. You know, the best album the Cure ever released?