The Cure

The Cure are an English rock band that released eight albums and eighteen singles between 1978 and 1989 on Fiction Records. They emerged in the British post-punk movement and cultivated a goth-rock sound and image during the early 1980s. Their popular hits include “Boys Don’t Cry,” “A Forest,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Love Cats,” “In Between Days,” “Just Like Heaven,” and the 1989 Billboard No. 2 hit “Love Song.”

They formed in 1976 as Easy Cure when guitarist–singer Robert Smith teamed with school friends Lol Tolhurst (drums), Michael Dempsey (bass), and Porl Thompson (guitar). In 1978, Thompson quit and they shortened their name to The Cure. They signed with the newly formed Polydor-subsidiary Fiction and released their debut single “Killing An Arab.”

In 1979, The Cure released their debut album Three Imaginary Boys, which contains the early setlist favorites “Accuracy,” “Grinding Halt,” “Subway Song,” “Fire In Cairo,” and “10:15 Saturday Night.” Weeks later, they dropped the non-album single “Boys Don’t Cry,” which gained popularity after its later reissue. Their sound at this stage consists of staccato guitar, contrapuntal bass, and air-tight drum beats. After their fall ’79 third single “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” Dempsey cleared for bassist Simon Gallup.

The Cure embraced ethereal sounds on their 1980 second album Seventeen Seconds, recorded as a four-piece with temporary keyboardist Matthieu Hartley. Its bass-driven single “A Forest” became their first UK chart hit. They honed this style with their 1981 album Faith and its single “Primary,” recorded as a trio of Smith, Tolhurst, and Gallup. This lineup held through the standalone single “Charlotte Sometimes” and 1982 fourth album Pornography, the culmination of their dark phase with “The Hanging Garden.” Gallup departed for two years.

In late 1982, The Cure took a whimsical turn on “Let’s Go to Bed,” a dance-club hit recorded as a duo of Smith and Tolhurst, who abandoned drums for keyboards. Their 1983 singles embrace synthpop (“The Walk”) and jazz-pop (“The Lovecats”). Fiction compiled these singles on the mini-album Japanese Whispers. Meanwhile, Smith doubled as guitarist in Siouxsie & the Banshees and recorded the album Blue Sunshine, a collaborative effort with Banshees bassist Steve Severin under the band moniker The Glove.

In 1984, a makeshift Cure lineup made The Top, which includes the hit “The Caterpillar.” On the subsequent tour, The Cure stabilized as a five-piece with Smith, Tolhurst, drummer Boris Williams, and returning members Simon Gallup and Porl Thompson. This lineup recorded three studio albums, starting with their 1985 transatlantic breakthrough The Head on the Door, a collection of art-pop with the hits “In Between Days” and “Close to Me,” both bolstered with quirky music videos by director Tim Pope.

The Cure achieved Platinum status with their 1987 double-album Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, which spawned the hits “Just Like Heaven,” “Hot Hot Hot!!!” and “Why Can’t I Be You?” In 1989, they re-embraced goth-rock on Disintegration, a global Top 10 album with the hits “Fascination Street” and “Love Song,” an ode to Smith’s longtime companion Mary Poole.

In the 1990s, The Cure reemerged with the albums Wish and Wild Mood Swings and the hits “Friday I’m in Love” and “Mint Car.” Their sporadic latter-day output continued in the 2000s with Bloodflowers (the third in a trilogy with Pornography and Disintegration), The Cure, and 4:13 Dream.

Members: Robert Smith (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Michael Dempsey (bass, vocals, 1976-79), Marc Ceccagno (guitar, 1976), Lol Tolhurst (drums, keyboards, 1976-89), Martin Creasy (vocals, 1976), Gary X (vocals, 1977), Peter O’Toole (vocals, 1977), Porl Thompson (guitar, keyboards, saxophone, 1977-78, 1983-93, 2005-10), Simon Gallup (bass, 1980-82, 1985-present), Matthieu Hartley (keyboards, 1979-80), Andy Anderson (drums, 1983-84), Phil Thornalley (bass, 1983-84), Boris Williams (drums, 1984-94), Roger O’Donnell (keyboards, 1987-90, 1995-2005)


Formation

The Cure trace to an unrecorded Crawley five-piece called Obelisk, formed by Notre Dame Middle School classmates Robert Smith (guitar), Michael Dempsey (bass), and Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst (drums). In April 1973, the band did one performance to mark the end of the 1972–73 school year. In 1976, the three reconvened in Malice with guitarist Porl Thompson. After a series of short-term vocalists, Smith became their singer. Malice played three shows that December with a set comprised largely of covers by David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, and Alex Harvey.

In early 1977, the band changed its name to Easy Cure after a song written by Tolhurst. That May, they were one of two young bands (along with Japan) to win a contract with the German label Ariola-Hansa. In October, the newly punk-inspired Easy Cure entered London’s SAV Studios and cut five demos: “I Just Need Myself,” “See The Children,” “I Want to Be Old,” “Pillbox Tales,” and “Meathook.” Displeased with the band’s direction, Ariola insisted they record a cover song. The band refused and their contract was annulled.

Easy Cure toured though the first quarter of 1978 and double-billed select dates with Horley punks Lockjaw, which included bassist Simon Gallup. In April, Thompson exited because his riff-laden style clashed with Smith’s newfound preference for lean, minimal guitar sounds. To mark the change, they dropped “Easy” from the nameplate.

In May 1978, The Cure entered Chestnut Studios for a demo session financed by Gallup’s brother, Ric. The trio cut four tracks: “Fire In Cairo,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “10:15 Saturday Night,” and “It’s Not You.” The tape found its way to Polydor A&R Chris Parry, who’d recently secured deals for The Jam and Siouxsie and the Banshees. He signed The Cure to his newly formed Fiction Records label and became their manager and producer.


“Killing An Arab”

On December 21, 1978, The Cure released their debut single, “Killing An Arab.” The song was inspired by the 1942 Albert Camus novel The Stranger in which a character known as “Arab” is shot by the book’s protagonist, Meursault. The single initially appeared on Small Wonder in a run of 15,000 copies. In February 1979, it reappeared on Fiction. Both pressings feature “10:15 Saturday Night” on the b-side.

A. “Killing an Arab” (2:22)


1979

On March 4, 1979, The Cure headlined over Mancunian post-punk stalwarts Joy Division at London’s famed Marquee Club.


Three Imaginary Boys

The Cure released their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, on May 11, 1979, on Fiction. It opens with the pre-released b-side “10:15 Saturday Night” and contains ten additional group-written originals, including “Accuracy,” “Grinding Halt,” and revised versions of the longstanding setlist numbers “Fire in Cairo” and “Meat Hook.” Side Two opens with a cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Foxy Lady” and closes with the instrumental postlude “The Weedy Burton.”

1. “10:15 Saturday Night” (3:42)
2. “Accuracy” (2:17)
3. “Grinding Halt” (2:49)
4. “Another Day” (3:44)
5. “Object” (3:03)
6. “Subway Song” (2:00) Robert Smith plays harmonica.

1. “Foxy Lady” (2:29) Michael Dempsey sings lead.
2. “Meat Hook” (2:17)
3. “So What” (2:37)
4. “Fire in Cairo” (3:23)
5. “It’s Not You” (2:49)
6. “Three Imaginary Boys” (3:17)
7. “The Weedy Burton” (1:04)

Sessions took place in the winter of 1978–79 at London’s Morgan Studios with producer Chris Parry and engineer Mike Hedges, a soundman on recent albums by Barbara Thompson, Gary Moore, and Heatwave. Three Imaginary Boys is the first album release on Fiction Records and the only longplayer of 1979, which saw multiple shortplayers by The Cure and fellow signees The Passions and Purple Hearts.

Polydor art director Bill Smith (noted for The Jam’s subway spray-paint logo) designed the Three Imaginary Boys cover, which features imagery by Polydor photographer Martyn Goddard and illustrators Connie Jude and David Dragon. The cover shows three household objects (lamp, fridge, vacuum) that represent the three band members. The back cover shows a collage of eleven images; each representing a proper group original. Examples include a hanging cold cut (“Meat Hook”), a chalk outline on the Underground (“Subway Song”), a snapshot of a passing female (“Object”), and a pyramid view of a city in mayhem (“Fire in Cairo”). The inner-sleeve has a tenement photo and credits scrawled with color-coded curves and lines. The front cover imagery reappears on the LP labels. Smith and Goddard also did joint work on 1978–79 cover visuals for Chris Rainbow, Sham 69, Trevor Rabin, and The Who.


“Boys Don’t Cry”

On June 15, 1979, The Cure released “Boys Don’t Cry,” backed with “Plastic Passion.”

A. “Boys Don’t Cry” (2:37)
B. “Plastic Passion” (2:15)

The backside of the pink–teal picture sleeve represents “Plastic Passion” with a mock advert for “Helga,” a 5′ 2″ sex doll who “Never says no!” and “will appreciate your advances by saying so.”

At the time of its release, “Boys Don’t Cry” dented the Australian Kent Music Report but drowned in the multitude of new music releases. Its popularity grew as a concert staple.

In 1986, the song gained newfound visibility through a remixed version, released as a tie-in with their compilation Standing On a Beach. A video depicting The Cure as children accompanied the re-released single, which contains re-recorded vocals. “Boys Don’t Cry (New Voice · New Mix)” reached No. 19 in Germany and No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart. The 12″ version contains two 1977-era Hansa demos: “Pillbox Tales” and “Do the Hansa.”


Siouxsie & The Banshees Tour

The Cure served as the opening act for Siouxsie & The Banshees on their tour behind Join Hands, their second album on Fiction’s parent label Polydor. Four dates into the tour, Banshees inner-tensions erupted in Aberdeen, where guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morrison walked out on the band before a September 7 show at Capitol Theater. Local act Scars opened the night, followed by The Cure, who played continuously as Siouxsie Sioux and Banshees bassist Steve Severin assessed the situation. After the headliner’s cancellation, Smith offered his services (and those of Lol Tolhurst) for the remaining dates.

The Banshees cancelled the next five dates as they auditioned new members. They hired ex-Slits drummer Budgie and accepted Smith’s offer. The tour reconvened on September 18 at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, and covered fifteen cities; concluding in London on October 15 at the Hammersmith Odeon. Each night, Smith played an opening set with The Cure and a headlining set as an auxiliary Banshee. source


“Jumping Someone Else’s Train”

On November 2, 1979, The Cure released “Jumping Someone Else’s Train,” a contrapuntal uptempo number backed with “I’m Cold,” a sludgy guitar-driven rocker with Siouxsie Sioux on backing vocals.

A. “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (2:58)

B. “I’m Cold” (2:45)

Chris Parry produced both sides in his last credit for three years as chief Cure soundman. Both songs are joint-writes between Robert Smith, Lol Tolhust and bassist Michael Dempsey, whose diverging music interests arose during these sessions. Since the Banshees tour, Smith wanted to pursue that band’s dark, drone-laden style. Dempsey favored the layered contrapuntal approach of XTC. Smith, in one of his first autocratic moves, coordinated Dempsey’s ouster with The Cure’s management.

Smith hired bassist Simon Gallup, a longtime associate from Easy Cure tour-mates Lockjaw. Robert also welcomed keyboardist Matthieu Hartley, a recent Gallup bandmate in the unsigned Magspies. The revised four-piece Cure embarked on the Future Pastimes Tour, a November–December UK round where they segued “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” into a bass-driven instrumental titled “Another Journey by Train.” On November 16, they headlined Eric’s Club in Liverpool, supported by The Passions and Fiction Records’ latest discovery The Associates, a Scottish duo comprised of singer Billy MacKenzie and multi-instrumentalist Alan Rankine.

Dempsey surfaced in The Associates’ backing band for their 1981–82 albums Fourth Drawer Down and Sulk. He later backed The Lotus Eaters, a Liverpool duo that cut multiple singles and the 1984 album No Sense of Sin.


Cult Hero – “I’m a Cult Hero”

In November 1979, just after “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (FICS 5) hit shelves, Fiction Records issued “I’m a Cult Hero” (FICS 006), attributed to the mystery act Cult Hero. Smith devised the project with Gallup in the weeks before Dempsey’s ouster to test his musical compatibility with the Magspies bassist.

The man on the picture sleeve is Frank Bell, a Horley postman known locally for his t-shirt that read “I’m a Cult Hero,” hence the project’s name. He sings both sides.

A. “I’m a Cult Hero” (3:50)

B. “I Dig You” (3:27)

Chris Parry produced the Cult Hero single, which features onetime Malice–Easy Cure guitarist Porl Thompson and keyboards by Matthieu Hartley and an unsuspecting Michael Dempsey, plus Smith’s sisters Janet (additional keyboards) and Margaret, who sings backing vocals along with The Obtainers, an unsigned Horley punk trio. 

Fiction Records pressed 2000 copies of the Cult Hero single, which also appeared reverse-sided on Modulation Records (1980, Canada) and Stunn (1981, New Zealand).


1980

In February 1980, the compilation Boys Don’t Cry appeared on the stateside PVC label. It contains eight songs from Three Imaginary Boys: “10:15 Saturday Night,” “Accuracy,” “Object,” “Subway Song,” “Fire in Cairo,” “Another Day,” “Grinding Halt,” and “Three Imaginary Boys” — essentially the entire first side of The Cure’s UK debut album and two songs from Side Two, omitting “Foxy Lady,” “Meathook,” “It’s Not You,” “So What?” and the hidden postlude “The Weedy Burton.”

Boys Don’t Cry also gathers the three UK non-album sides of their first two singles (“Killing an Arab,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Plastic Passion”) and their third a-side “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” It omits the “Jumping” b-side “I’m Cold” but includes “World War,” an unearthed outtake from the October 1978 Three Imaginary Boys sessions.

Boys Don’t Cry uses a cover illustration that first appeared as part of the Three Imaginary Boys inner-sleeve collage. The image represents “Killing an Arab” (the beach), “Fire in Cairo” (the Egyptian pyramid), and the original Cure trio (three palm trees).

On April 4, 1980, Robert Smith partook in an all-star concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre in honor of Stranglers guitarist–singer Hugh Corwell, then incarcerated at Pentonville Prison for drug possession. Smith played guitar with the free Stranglers — bassist JJ Burnel, keyboardist Dave Greefield, and drummer Jet Black — on two songs from their 1977 debut album Rattus Norvegicus (“(Get a) Grip (On Yourself),” “Hanging Around”) with singer Hazel O’Connor. Proceeds from the event went to the drug rehabilitation organization named (to Smith’s irony) Cure. The Rainbow concert later appeared on the CD The Stranglers and Friends Live In Concert., which features Smith’s contributions and those of fellow participants, including singers Toyah Willcox, Peter Hammill, Richard Jobson (Skids), Nickie Tesco (The Members), and guitarists Robert Fripp and Steve Hillage.


Seventeen Seconds

The Cure released their second album, Seventeen Seconds, on April 18, 1980, on Fiction. It features the single “A Forest,” an eerie number driven by a four-note bass pattern. Robert Smith wrote the lyrics but split the music-writing credits with Lol Tolhurst and new members Simon Gallup and Matthieu Hartley, whose keyboards help facilitate the ethereal turn in the band’s music style.

Seventeen Seconds is their first of three early-eighties albums that placed The Cure in the vanguard of goth-rock along with contemporaries Siouxsie & The Banshees, Joy Division, and Bauhaus.

1. “A Reflection” (2:12)
2. “Play for Today” (3:40)
3. “Secrets” (3:20)
4. “In Your House” (4:07)
5. “Three” (2:36)

6. “The Final Sound” (0:52)
7. “A Forest” (5:55)
8. “M” (3:04)
9. “At Night” (5:54)
10. “Seventeen Seconds” (4:00)

Smith composed the bulk of Seventeen Seconds on a Hammond organ (with in-built tape recorder) at his parents’ house. Select numbers (“Play for Today,” “M”) first appeared in the autumn 1979 Cure setlist in embryonic form. They recorded and mixed the album in seven days (working 16–17 hours daily) on a £2,000–£3,000 budget. “The Final Sound,” which functions as Side Two’s prelude, was intended as a full song but the tape ran out mid-sessions and the band lacked money for a second take.

Sessions occurred in the winter of 1979–1980 at London’s Morgan Studios with Three Imaginary Boys engineer Mike Hedges, who overtakes production duties on Seventeen Seconds from Chris Parry, who serves as his assistant. The engineer, Mike Dutton, also worked on 1980 Fiction releases by The Passions (Michael & Miranda) and The Associates debut The Affectionate Punch, which features backing vocals by Robert Smith on the title track. Dutton worked earlier on the 1977 EMI International release Aerie Faerie Nonsense by symphonic rockers The Enid and (with assistant engineer Andrew Warwick) Gary Moore’s 1978 solo album Back On the Streets. Warwick also engineered hard-rock albums by Strife (Back to Thunder) and the 1980 debut by Tygers of Pan Tang.

Bill Smith, in his fourth and final Cure visual credit, designed the Seventeen Seconds cover, which shows a blurred, foggy woodlands setting photographed by Andrew Douglas, whose photography also appears on The Affectionate Punch and 1980 albums by The Jam (Sound Affects), New Musik (From A to B), and the US version of the debut album by The Psychedelic Furs. Smith also has design credits on Duke, the 1980 tenth studio album by Genesis.

“A Forest” appeared three weeks before Seventeen Seconds as the album’s lone single; backed with “Another Journey by Train,” a bass-driven instrumental that served as a live postlude to “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.”

B. “Another Journey by Train” (3:04)

The Cure filmed their first music video to “A Forest.” It extends on the barren woodlands imagery of the album cover and single sleeve with panned upshots trees in a bleak winter setting. They intercut tree scenes with footage of the band on a blue- and green-lit soundstage, where the camera zooms on the stoic expressions of Smith and Tolhurst.

“A Forest” marked The Cure’s debut on the UK Singles Chart, where the single reached No. 31. They mimed the song on the April 24 broadcast of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which also featured current hits by Bad Manners (“Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu”), Blondie (“Call Me”), Cockney Rejects (“The Greatest Cockney Rip-Off”), Dexys Midnight Runners (“Geno”), David Essex (“Silver Dream Machine”), Elvis Costello (“Hi Fidelity”), Paul McCartney (“Coming Up”), Rodney Franklin (“The Groove”), Sad Cafe (“My Oh My”), and Sky (“Toccata”).

The Cure also made a video for the album track “Play for Today,” in which the black-clad group mimes on black and white instruments against a white backdrop — a common theme in 1979–80 videos, as seen in early clips by Simple Minds (“Chelsea Girl”) and U2 (“I Will Follow”).

Seventeen Seconds reached No. 9 in New Zealand, No. 15 in the Netherlands, and No. 20 on the UK Albums Chart. Just as the album hit the European market, The Cure did their first tour of the US (where Seventeen Seconds was only available as an import) to promote Boys Don’t Cry. From April 24–May 11, they toured Seventeen Seconds in the UK, followed by May 14–June 14 shows on the Continent. After an additional round of Scottish and Dutch dates, The Cure toured Australia throughout August. By the end of the tour, Hartley (who favored complex keyboard lines) left The Cure over differences with Smith on song arrangements.


1981


Faith

The Cure released their third album, Faith, on April 17, 1981, on Fiction. It features “Primary,” a churning number driven by one of Simon Gallup’s signature basslines. Robert Smith wrote all the lyrics and split the music-writing credits with Gallup and Lol Tolhurst.

The album’s UK Fiction cassette version places Faith entirely on one side and devotes the other side to “Carnage Visors,” a lengthy instrumental soundscape (27:51) recorded as the soundtrack to a namesake film by Simon’s brother Ric Gallup.

1. “The Holy Hour” (4:25)
2. “Primary” (3:35)
3. “Other Voices” (4:28)
4. “All Cats Are Grey” (5:28) features Smith on keyboards and piano; no guitar. Tolhurst co-wrote the lyrics.

1. “The Funeral Party” (4:14)
2. “Doubt” (3:11)
3. “The Drowning Man” (4:50)
4. “Faith” (6:43)

Work commenced on September 27, 1980, at Morgan Studios, where The Cure conceived most of Faith as sessions advanced. Seventeen Seconds producer Mike Hedges continued his role in tandem with Fourth Drawer Down by The Associates. He co-engineered Faith with Samson soundman Graham Carmichael and freelancer David Kemp, who also worked on 1980–81 albums by Aviator (Turbulence), Billy Ocean, Delegation, Fingerprintz, Leo Sayer (Living In a Fantasy), and Uriah Heep.

On select tracks (“All Cats Are Grey,” “The Drowning Man”), Smith drew lyrical ideas from the Gormenghast series: a 1946–59 trilogy of gothic fantasy novels by British author Mervyn Peake (1911–1968), whose writing also influenced the early work of Split Enz, whose original sound and likeness (1975–77 era) foreshadow mid-eighties Cure.

Smith plays six-string bass guitar on Faith in addition to keyboards and guitar. Sessions wrapped in March 1981, weeks before their April–October Picture Tour: a worldwide blitz through Europe, North America, and Oceania. In lieu of an opening act, each night began with a screening of Ric Gallup’s short film Carnage Visors (an antonym for “rose-coloured spectacles”), which set doll animation to The Cure’s instrumental soundscape.

Cure friend Porl Thompson designed the cover to Faith, which presents a foggy, veiled view of Bolton Priory, a 12th-century gothic church in Yorkshire Dales National Park.

“Primary” appeared four weeks ahead of Faith as the lone single backed with the exclusive instrumental “Descent.”

B. “Descent” (3:05)

Fiction also issued the single on 12″ with a longer edit of “Primary” (5:56). The song’s video intercuts band footage with misty scenes of children at play in vintage goth attire (top hats, ruffled shirts). The Cure appear in a dark studio space where the camera zooms on each member. Smith’s trademark look (teased hair, eyeliner) emerges in this clip.

The Cure mimed “Primary” on the April 16, 1981, broadcast of TotP, which also featured numbers by The Beat (“Drowning”), Department S (“Is Vic There?”), Ennio Morricone (“Chi Mai”), Girlschool (“Hit & Run”), The Jacksons (“Can You Feel It?”), Spandau Ballet (“Musclebound”), Sugar Minott (“Good Thing Going (We’ve Got a Good Thing Going)”), and Whitesnake (“Don’t Break My Heart Again”).

Faith reached No. 9 in the Netherlands and No. 14 on the UK Albums Chart. In New Zealand, where The Cure played eight 1981 shows during their second visit to the country (July 31–August 6), Faith went all the way to No. 1 and held the top spot for three weeks.

In the US, Faith appeared in September 1981 as the second record of …Happily Ever After, a double-album combination of the second and third UK studio albums. This marked the first domestic stateside availability of Seventeen Seconds (first record) seventeen months after its initial release.


“Charlotte Sometimes”

On October 9, 1981, The Cure released the standalone single “Charlotte Sometimes,” backed with “Splintered in Her Head.” Both songs draw upon Charlotte Sometimes, a 1969 children’s novel by English fiction writer Penelope Farmer. (Her novel also inspired their 1984 song “The Empty World”).

A. “Charlotte Sometimes” (4:15) the opening lines (“All the faces, all the voices blur, change to one face, change to one voice”) derive from the first sentence in Farmer’s novel (“By bedtime all the faces, the voices, had blurred for Charlotte to one face, one voice”).

B. “Splintered In Her Head” (5:15) lifts its title from a line in Farmer’s novel.

Fiction issued a 12″ version of the single with an extended live version of “Faith” (10:33) from their August 1981 showcase at Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia. The “Charlotte Sometimes” picture sleeve shows a blurred, grainy gray scale image of Robert Smith’s then-girlfriend (and later wife) Mary Poole.

The Cure filmed a video for “Charlotte Sometimes” at Holloway Sanatorium, a then-derelict Franco-Gothic building that operated as an asylum between 1885 and 1980. A young girl portrays Charlotte (crimped long hair, school girl uniform), who wanders into the building (under red saturated sky) and marvels at the interior, oblivious to the stark presence of Cure members. Throughout the place, she sees apparitions of her likeness in various guises. The video employs multiple effects (slow motion, soft focus, highlight glow) common of the period.


1982


Pornography

The Cure released their fourth album, Pornography, on May 3, 1982, on Fiction. It features eight songs co-written and performed by the Faith-lineup trio (Robert Smith, Simon Gallup, Lol Tolhurst), including the single “The Hanging Garden.”

Drummer Tolhurst plays keyboards for the first time on “One Hundred Years.” He subsequently abandoned drums for the keyboard slot. Elsewhere, bassist Gallup splits keyboard duties with Smith, who plays cello on “Cold.”

Pornography is the third album in The Cure’s early eighties dark trilogy. Smith penned the lyrics and guided the tone during a period of deep depression. Early into the tour that accompanied this release, Gallup departed for two years.

1. “One Hundred Years” (6:40)
2. “A Short Term Effect” (4:22)
3. “The Hanging Garden” (4:33)
4. “Siamese Twins” (5:29)

5. “The Figurehead” (6:15)
6. “A Strange Day” (5:04)
7. “Cold” (4:26)
8. “Pornography” (6:27)

Sessions took place between January and April 1982 at London’s RAK Studios, where The Cure co-produced the album with engineer Phil Thornalley, a young industry songwriter, session bassist, and soundman who recently co-engineered the second Psychedelic Furs album Talk Talk Talk.

The Cure chose Thornalley after initial talks with veteran German Krautrock producer Connie Plank, who recently produced 1980–81 albums by Ultravox (Vienna, Rage in Eden) and Eurythmics (In the Garden). Plank’s booked 1982 schedule included albums by Killing Joke and the Neue Deutsche Welle acts Ideal, Rheingold, Stahlnetz, Zupfgeigenhansel, and Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (DAF).

Studio novice Mike Nocito engineered Pornography in succession with the 1982 WEA release Well Kept Secret, the tenth studio album by John Martyn.

Pornography is housed in a cover designed by Ben Kelly, a graphic artist on numerous titles on the Factory and Dindisc labels (A Certain Ratio, Joy Division, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Section 25) who also did 1982 sleeve designs for Graham Parker and The Boomtown Rats. The Pornography front, back, and inner-sleeve feature blurred, saturated images of The Cure by Michael Kostiff, whose photography also appears on the concurrent Siouxsie & The Banshees release A Kiss In the Dreamhouse.

Two months after Pornography hit the shelves, a remixed version of “The Hanging Garden” became the album’s only single, backed with a live rendition of “Killing an Arab.” A four-song 10″ version, titled A Single, includes “One Hundred Years” and a live version of “A Forest.” Both live numbers come from their April 27, 1982, show at the Manchester Apollo.

“The Hanging Garden” video takes place at London’s York House Gardens, where statues appear and disappear amid fog (daytime) and The Cure perform in front of the Naked Ladies rockery complex (nighttime), intercut with tinted zoom-ins and scenes of the members in masks. Smith now sports his trademark ‘exploding mushroom’ hairdo.

Pornography reached No. 9 in New Zealand, No. 17 in the Netherlands, and No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart.

The Cure supported Pornography with the Fourteen Explicit Moments Tour. Tensions erupted between Smith and Gallup on two occasions; notably their June 11 show at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, where a rotated arrangement of Gallup (guitar), Tolhurst (bass), and Smith (drums) took the stage with Cure roadie Gary Biddles (vocals), who taunted Lol and Robert mid-performance. Gallup left The Cure and teamed with Biddles and Seventeen Seconds keyboardist Matthieu Hartley in Fools Dance, which cut five songs for a proposed 1983 EP (not released till after Gallup’s 1984 re-admission into The Cure).


“Let’s Go to Bed”

On November 23, 1982, The Cure released “Let’s Go to Bed,” an upbeat melodic number backed with “Just One Kiss.” Robert Smith developed the song as an antidote to the grim mood of their recent album and shambolic tour. Co-writer Lol Tolhurst debuts in his new role as Cure keyboardist on this single, their first of two releases as a duo.

A. “Let’s Go to Bed” (3:35) The vocable hook originates in the summer ’82 demo “Temptation Two,” an update of the Pornography outtake “Temptation.” Smith plays guitar, bass, and (with Tolhurst) keyboards on “Let’s Go to Bed,” which features Rumour drummer Steve Goulding.

B. “Just One Kiss” (4:10)

Fiction released a 12″ version of the single with extended mixes of “Let’s Go to Bed” (7:04) and “Just One Kiss” (7:02). The US Sire 12″ features longer mixes (7:45 and 7:18, respectively).

Fiction founder Chris Parry returned as The Cure’s producer for this single, which peaked at No. 15 in Australia and No. 17 in New Zealand.

For the song’s video, Robert Smith began a long-term working relationship director Tim Pope, whose credits included clips for Altered Images (“I Could Be Happy”), Bad Manners (“Samson and Delilah”), Kissing the Pink (“Mr. Blunt”), The Mood (“Paris Is One Day Away”), Psychedelic Furs (“Love My Way”), Visage (“Pleasure Boys”), and the Soft Cell VHS–Betamax release Non-Stop Exotic Video Show, a visual accompaniment to the synth duo’s 1981 album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret.

The “Let’s Go to Bed” video takes place inside the narrow walls of a sparsely furnished play room, where Smith and Tolhurst engage in assorted mischief (graffiti, glitter, doll animation, blindfold spinning, beach-ball play) as Christmas comes and goes within the same tint-lighted, candy-strip-floored interior. Smith wears colorful tops and a post-punk bouffant reminiscent of ex-Specials singer Terry Hall, who sports a similar look in the 1982 Fun Boy Three videos (“It Ain’t What You Do,” “The Telephone Always Rings”).

(The quirky nature of “Let’s Go to Bed” and the FB3 clips recall the 1975–77 videos of Split Enz, who employed similar effects — angled views, tinted lighting, bright colors, whimsical props — in their Second Thoughts and Dizrythmia clips. Enz frontman Tim Finn and percussionist Noel Crombie pioneered cone-shaped and tidal-wave hairdos that presaged the Smith–Hall look. Enz revisit this aesthetic in their 1981 video “History Never Repeats,” in which the band dons harlequin outfits for a circus rehearsal.)


1983

On April 11, 1983, “Let’s Go to Bed” became the inaugural song on “Boston Phoenix Radio” WFNX (101.7 FM), a station headquartered in Lynn, Massachusetts, that broadcast “new music” (later dubbed “alternative”) to the greater Boston area. The station influenced similar formats in other US markets and aided The Cure’s late-eighties rise from cult to stadium status.

Robert Smith and Steve Severin formed The Glove as a side project from their two main bands. The two began their joint venture on “Lament,” a track released as a green flexi-disc Cure exclusive in the August 1982 issue of Flexipop magazine. In mid-1983, they recorded Blue Sunshine, which appeared in September on the Banshees’ Wonderland imprint. Their collaboration coincided with The Creatures, the side project of Siouxsie Sioux and bandmate–companion Budgie.


“The Walk”

On July 1, 1983, The Cure released “The Walk,” backed with “The Dream.” The 12″ includes two additional songs, “The Upstairs Room” and “Lament.” This is their second of two singles as a duo. They hired producer Steve Nye on the strength of his recent work with Japan.

A. “The Walk” (3:30) Smith and Tolhurst plays the Oberheim OB-8 analog synthesizer on “The Walk,” which also features Lol on the Oberheim DMX digital drum machine and the Oberheim DSX polyphonic sequencer.
B. “The Dream” (3:13)

B1. “The Upstairs Room” (3:31)
B2. “Lament” (4:20) is a re-recorded version of the August 1982 Flexipop disc.  

This marked their only time with producer Steve Nye, an engineer on seventies classic by Be-Bop Deluxe (Axe Victim), Nektar (Recycled), Quantum Jump (self-titled), Roxy Music (Country Life, Siren), and Judie Tzuke (Welcome to the Cruise) who produced recent titles by Icehouse, Murray Head, and the French band Marquis de Sade. Lol and Robert admired his work on the 1981 Japan swan song Tin Drum. Nye produced “The Walk” in succession with tracks on Mummer, the 1983 sixth studio album by XTC.

In the Pope-directed video, the camera pans down and away from Lol (highlighted bangs), who portrays a doll-clutching little girl; and Robert, who dons multiple outfits in an inflatable pool filled with letter blocks and atom beads. The toys float around as the camera zooms on Robert’s tinted, translucent face.

“The Walk” reached No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart and became their first of seventeen Irish Top 20 hits. The Cure mimed it on the July 7, 1983, broadcast of TotP, which twice aired “The Walk” amid summer hits by ELO (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King”), Eurythmics (“Who’s That Girl?”), Freeez (“IOU”), Iron Maiden (“The Trooper”), Mike Oldfield (“Moonlight Shadow”), Paul Young (“Wherever I Lay My Hat”), The Police (“Wrapped Around Your Finger”), and Rod Stewart (“Baby Jane”). Robert dons shades in the yellow-lit Cure segment, where the band (flanked with new wave cage dancers) appear for the first time with Glove drummer Andy Anderson and Pornography producer Phil Thornalley, who joined as bassist.


“The Lovecats”

On October 21, 1983, The Cure released “The Lovecats,” backed with “Speak My Language” and (on the 12”) “Mr. Pink Eyes.” This is the only studio release with the four-piece lineup of Robert Smith, Lol Tolhurst, and the rhythm section of Phil Thornalley and Andy Anderson.

The single mixes elements of music hall (thumping piano), retro jazz-pop (standup bass), and art pop (vibraphone, played by Tolhurst) — touches adopted simultaneously by Fun Boy Three on their second album Waiting (“We’re Having All the Fun,” “The Tunnel of Love,” “Well Fancy That”).

A. “The Lovecats” (3:40) The 12″ features an extended version (4:37).
B1. “Speak My Language” (2:41)
B2. “Mr. Pink Eyes” (2:45)

The Cure cut the three tracks in Paris at Studio Des Dames after an August 31 show at Saint-Jacut-Les-Pins. (A fourth track, “A Hand Inside My Mouth,” surfaced on the 2006 reissue of their 1984 album The Top.) Thornalley co-produced the songs with Chris Parry.

The picture sleeve features doodles by Parched Art, the design firm of Cure friend Porl Thompson, whose multi-colored details and handwritten spiral letters became visual mainstays of subsequent Cure releases.

In “The Lovecats” video, The Cure mime in a derelict white living room (cobwebs, dust sheets, picture frames ajar), where Lol plays a disassembled piano and Robert roams and crawls amid taxidermied wild cats. He holds a fair-haired cat cub in a middle scene, clad in a red shirt with black polkadots.

“The Lovecats” became the first Top 10 Cure hit in Australia (No. 6) and the UK (No. 7). It peaked at No. 15 in Ireland and No. 23 in New Zealand. In the US, “The Lovecats” featured in a dance segment on the syndicated music program Solid Gold.

The Cure mimed “The Lovecats” on the October 27, 1983, broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid autumn hits by Adam Ant (“Puss ‘N Boots”), Billy Joel (“Uptown Girl”), Culture Club (“Karma Chameleon”), Duran Duran (“Union of the Snake”), Musical Youth (“007”), Shalamar (“Over & Over”), UB40 (“Please Don’t Make Me Cry”), and the debut solo single by ex-Kajagoogoo singer Limahl (“Only For Love”). In the purple-lit Cure segment, a gray-suited Smith sports a red shirt with white dots and faux-strums a red Gibson. Band friend Porl Thompson appears in lieu of Thornalley on standup bass.


Japanese Whispers

In December 1983, eight songs from the preceding three non-album singles (everything barring “Mr. Pink Eyes”) appeared on Japanese Whispers, The Cure’s second compilation.

Japanese Whispers reached No. 8 in New Zealand and No. 18 in Australia. It charted modestly in the UK and Germany, where the compilation bore the extended title Japanese Whispers: The Cure Singles Nov 82 : Nov 83. Fueled by club and college radio support, it marked their debut on the US Billboard 200.


1984

Robert Smith entered 1984 at work on new albums by The Cure and Siouxsie & the Banshees. After serving as the Banshees live guitarist for twelve months, they released the standalone Beatles cover “Dear Prudence” and the live double-album Nocturne with Smith as an official band member. “Dear Prudence” reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Smith also plays most of the instruments on the 1984 Fiction Records single “I Want to be a Tree” by Cure–Banshees video director Tim Pope.

In late February, as release dates loomed for both bands, The Cure previewed their upcoming album with performances of two new songs (“Shake Dog Shake,” “Give Me It”) on the BBC Two music program Oxford Road Show. In early April, they performed three additional new tracks (“Bananafishbones,” “Piggy in the Mirror,” “The Top”) on The Tube, a Channel 4 music program hosted by Paula Yates and (erstwhile Squeeze keyboardist) Jools Holland.


The Top

The Cure released their fifth proper album, The Top, on May 4, 1984, on Fiction and Sire. Robert Smith recorded the album amid work with Siouxsie & The Banshees, whose sixth studio album Hyæna (their only studio album with Smith as an official member) appeared one month after The Top. Between the two release dates, he left the Banshees to concentrate on The Cure, which recently enjoyed its first UK Top 10 hit with “The Lovecats,” a whimsical number that foreshadowed the mood of this album.

The Top contains seven solo Smith compositions and three co-writes by drummer-turned-keyboardist Lol Tolhurst: “Bird Mad Girl,” “Piggy in the Mirror,” and “The Caterpillar,” the album’s single.

For this album, The Cure are a trio comprised of Smith, Tolhurst, and Glove drummer Andy Anderson, who played on “The Lovecats” single. Smith plays the basic instruments (guitar, bass, organ) and makes select use of recorder (“Wailing Wall”), violin (“The Caterpillar”), and harmonica (“Bananafishbones”). Longtime Cure friend Porl Thompson (who finally joined on the ensuing tour) plays guest saxophone on “Give Me It.”

Other Side (Eye Side)

1. “Shake Dog Shake” (4:55)
2. “Bird Mad Girl” (Smith, Tolhurst) (4:05)
3. “Wailing Wall” (5:17)
4. “Give Me It” (3:42)
5. “Dressing Up” (2:51)

This Side (Cross Side)

6. “The Caterpillar” (Smith, Tolhurst) (3:40)
7. “Piggy in the Mirror” (Smith, Tolhurst) (3:40)
8. “The Empty World” (2:36)
9. “Bananafishbones” (3:12)
10. “The Top” (6:50)

Sessions took place in the winter of 1983–84 at Genetic Sound Studios, where Robert Smith co-produced the album with Positive Noise soundman Dave Allen, who co-engineered The Top with Howard Gray. Allen assisted Genetic owner Martin Rushent on the 1981 Human League album Dare, an avowed favorite of Smith in this period. Gray produced 1983–84 titles by UB40 and the Pale Fountains and engineered earlier titles by ABC (The Lexicon of Love), Europeans, Fischer-Z, Kate Bush (The Dreaming), Midnight Oil (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1), Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, Rip Rig + Panic, Split Enz (Time and Tide), and XTC (English Settlement).

Additional sessions occurred at Trident and John Foxx‘s Garden Studio, used concurrently by Bronski Beat, Depeche Mode, and Modern English.

Porl’s Parched Art designed the album cover, which features Eastern green and gold lettering over faded impressions of blue, pink, and yellow. The back cover presents the song titles around the edge of a mandala (copied on the Other Side LP label). The lyrical side of the inner-sleeve recreates the mandala (green over blue). The flipside contains doodles that represent different song titles.

Five weeks ahead of The Top on March 30, “The Caterpillar” appeared as the album’s only single, backed with “Happy the Man” and (on the 12″ version) “Throw Your Foot.”

B1. “Happy the Man” (2:45)
B2. “Throw Your Foot” (3:32)

“The Caterpillar” peaked at No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart during a seven-week stay. Parched Art did the squiggly doodle sleeve design (replicated on the picture-disc version), which recalls the art of Spanish surrealist Joan Miró.

In the Pope-directed music video, The Cure mime inside the Syon House Great Conservatory, a greenhouse at West London’s Syon Park. The lens pans down from an adjacent dome and zooms on the interior shrubbery and butterflies. Smith sways in an upward daze amid the greenery while Lol and Andy play their instruments nearby; joined by Porl and Phil Thornalley, who both jump about with acoustic guitars, though neither plays on the recording. Their shirts change from black to white and back. Robert now sports his classic look (outward-spiked hair, smudged makeup) that cloned itself on the international goth scene.

“The Caterpillar” appeared thirteen days after “Swimming Horses,” the advance single from Hyæna. Smith, in his final round of Banshees promotional activities, appeared with the band on TotP on March 29, the eve of the new Cure single. A fortnight later, Smith returned to the TotP studio, where The Cure mimed “The Caterpillar” in white shirts (seated lotus style) on the April 12 broadcast, which aired their segment amid hits by Scritti Politti (“Wood Beez”), Dead Or Alive (“That’s The Way (I Like It)”), and Rufus & Chaka Khan (“Ain’t Nobody”).

The Top reached No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 12 in the Netherlands. It peaked at No. 23 in New Zealand and No. 31 in Sweden.


Concert (The Cure Live)

The Cure launched The Top Tour on April 25, 1984, at Newcastle’s City Hall. For this tour, Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst used Top drummer Andy Anderson, band friend Porl Thompson (guitar, keyboards), and Pornography producer Phil Thornalley (bass) — the same lineup as “The Caterpillar” video. This marked Thompson’s induction as a Cure member after seven years in Smith’s orbit.

The first leg covered Europe and the UK, including May shows in Liverpool (5/1: Royal Court Theatre), Oxford (5/5: Apollo) and three nights in London (May 8–10: Hammersmith Odeon). After a summer pause, the tour hit Oceania (Sept. 30–Oct. 12) and Japan (Oct. 15–17), and wrapped in North America (Oct. 22–Nov. 17). On the US leg, Anderson cleared out for drummer Boris Williams, a former Thompson Twins auxiliary player.

On October 26, Fiction Records (Elektra in Canada) issued Concert (The Cure Live), which gathers ten numbers from the Oxford Apollo and Hammersmith Odeon dates. It features renditions of one song each from Three Imaginary Boys (“10:15 Saturday Night”), Seventeen Seconds (“A Forest”), Faith (“Primary”), and two apiece from Pornography (“The Hanging Garden,” “One Hundred Years”) and The Top (“Shake Dog Shake,” “Give Me It”), plus the non-album a-sides “Killing An Arab,” “Charlotte Sometimes,” and “The Walk.”

The cassette version of Concert places all ten live numbers on Side A and fills Side B with Curiosity (Killing the Cat): Cure Anomalies 1977–1984, a collection of demos from the seven-year period, including the unreleased Dempsey-era track “Heroin Face,” the Pornography outtake “All Mine,” and the recent “Forever (Version).”

After the tour, Thornalley resumed his career as a sessionist and producer, starting with 1984–85 titles by Prefab Sprout and the Scottish combos Orange Juice and the Strawberry Switchbade. He co-produced the latter’s 1985 album, which features Williams on drums.


1985

The Cure recorded a new album in the spring of 1985 with their first five-piece lineup, comprised of Roberts Smith, Lol Tolhurst, returning bassist Simon Gallup, and two participants of the 1984 tour: drummer Boris Williams and guitarist–keyboardist and longtime Cure associate Porl Thompson. Gallup returned after his unsigned act Fools Dance ran aground. (Their EP, recorded in 1983, finally appeared in late 1985 on the Dutch Universe Productions label.)


The Head on the Door

The Cure released their sixth studio album, The Head on the Door, on August 30, 1985, on Fiction and Elektra. It features ten originals composed exclusively by Robert Smith, including the hit singles “In Between Days” and “Close to Me.”

Musically, The Cure embrace multiple styles on The Head on the Door, including folk-pop (“In Between Days”), flamenco (“The Blood”), post-punk (“Screw”), and avant-garde art pop (“Six Different Ways”).

Select arrangements draw on seventies art rock. “Kyoto Song” employs oriental motifs reminiscent of Jade Warrior. “Six Different Ways” uses a skewed music hall arrangement (in 3/4) that recalls the off-kilter moments of mid-period Gentle Giant (“So Sincere,” “Give It Back”). “Screw” has a guttural bass riff that conjures early Stranglers (an avowed influence). “Sinking” weds the ethereal side of Faith-era Cure with the complex textures of pastoral early Split Enz epics (“Without a Doubt,” “Charlie”).

The Cure’s stylistic shift mirrors that of contemporaries Echo & The Bunnymen, who also embrace lavish arrangements and quirky touches on their 1983–84 albums Porcupine and Ocean Rain. The minor key intensity of “The Baby Screams” echoes the recent Bunnymen hit “The Cutter.” The pointillist touches of “Close to Me” invoke the abstract details of “Never Stop.” The exuberant “Push” sways with the jovial spirit of “Silver.”

1. “In Between Days” (2:57)
2. “Kyoto Song” (4:16)
3. “The Blood” (3:43)
4. “Six Different Ways” (3:18)
5. “Push” (4:31)

1. “The Baby Screams” (3:44)
2. “Close to Me” (3:23)
3. “A Night Like This” (4:16) Features guest saxophonist Ron Howe, an auxiliary player on Gallup’s Fools Dance project.
4. “Screw” (2:38)
5. “Sinking” (4:57)

Sessions took place in early 1985 at London’s Angel Recording Studios, where Robert Smith co-produced the album with Top soundman Dave Allen, who worked on The Head on the Door in sequence with First and Last and Always, the debut album by The Sisters of Mercy. Head co-engineer Howard Gray produced “Kyoto Song.”

Six weeks ahead of Head on the Door, “In Between Days” appeared on July 19, 1985, as the album’s first single, backed with “The Exploding Boy” and “A Few Hours After This….”

B1. “The Exploding Boy” (2:52)
B2. “A Few Hours After This” (2:25)

Director Tim Pope renders The Cure in dim blue monochrome in the “In Between Days” video, where the band act frenetic in a large, shadowy studio space. Robert twitches and sways as the lens zooms and pans between him, Lol, and Porl. The whirlwind action mirrors the windmill churn of the strummed acoustic chords that fuel the song. In brief flashes, Pope renders scenes in dayglo infrared (also used on the picture sleeve, later reproduced as a poster). The “In Between Days” video has multiple similarities to the 1977 Split Enz video “Bold as Brass,” a brisk acoustic art-pop track (from their album Dizrythmia) matched with visual juxtapositions (monochrome with color flashes) and frenzied action (members jittering suited and painted in a crowded setting).

“In Between Days” reached No. 16 in Australia and No. 15 on the UK Singles Chart. It became their first song to crack the US Billboard Hot 100 (at No. 99). The Cure mimed it on the July 25 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid summer ’85 hits by Dire Straits (“Money For Nothing”), Eurythmics (“There Must Be an Angel”), Gary Moore (“Empty Rooms”), Madonna (“Into The Groove”), Nik Kershaw (“Don Quixote”), Opús (“Live Is Life”), The Pointer Sisters (“Dare Me”), Prince (“Raspberry Beret”), Trans X (“Living On Video”), and Tina Turner (“We Don’t Need Another Hero”). In the Cure’s segment, the members sport uniformly large, teased hair (notably Gallup). Robert sports crimped mid-length tresses. He wears baggy pants and white sneakers; ironic details not mimicked by his audience.

On September 13, “Close to Me” became the album’s second single, backed with “A Man Inside My Mouth” and (on the 12″ version) “Stop Dead.” A fourth song, “New Day,” appears on the 10″ EP version of the single titled Half an Octopuss (UK) and Quadpus (North America).

A2. “A Man Inside My Mouth” (3:07)
B1. “New Day” (4:08)
B2. “Stop Dead” (3:21)

Quadpus contains a remixed version of “Close to Me” with horns, which also appears on the 12″ as an extended mix (6:35). The Cure mimed this arrangement on the Dutch music program Countdown.

In the “Close to Me” video, The Cure huddle inside a wardrobe perched at the edge of Beachy Head, a chalk headland in East Sussex. In the cramped, crack-lit setting, Boris claps, Lol plays melodica, and Porl “plays” the four-note melody on a comb. Robert plays with Cure voodoo dolls and overuses his wiggle room. This causes the wardrobe to topple over and fall to the sea, which slowly water-logs the unscathed, unaware band.

“Close to Me” reached No. 7 in Australia and went Top 20 in the Netherlands (No. 16), France (No. 17), and Ireland (No. 19).

The Head on the Door reached No. 3 in the Netherlands, No. 6 in Australia, and No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart. It went Top 20 in New Zealand (No. 11), Switzerland (No. 14), and Germany (No. 15) and peaked at No. 24 in Italy and Sweden.

In early 1986, the video to “In Between Days” became a mid-rotation clip on MTV, which featured The Cure heavily on the channel’s alternative music programs 120 Minutes (Sunday nights) and the Cutting Edge Happy Hour (monthly). The Head on the Door reached No. 59 on the Billboard 200 as the band verged on stateside stardom. The album later certified Gold in the UK (100,000 copies sold) and the US (500,000 sold).


1986–1988

On May 15, 1986, The Cure released Standing on a Beach, a compilation of their thirteen 1978–85 a-sides, including seven non-album UK tracks.

Standing on a Beach starts with the three non-album 1978–79 a-sides “Killing an Arab,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (all included on the 1980 US comp Boys Don’t Cry), followed by the singular a-sides from Seventeen Seconds (“A Forest”), Faith (“Primary”), Pornography (“The Hanging Garden”) and the 1981 standalone “Charlotte Sometimes.”

Side Two of the vinyl version contains the three 1982–83 a-sides compiled on Japanese Whispers (“Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Walk,” “The Love Cats”) and the a-sides from The Top (“The Caterpillar”) and The Head on the Door (“In Between Days,” “Close to Me”).

The cassette version of Standing on a Beach groups the thirteen a-sides on Side One and twelve corresponding b-sides on Side Two, which gathers the 1979–82 rarities “I’m Cold,” “Another Journey by Train,” “Descent,” and “Splintered in Her Head” (all heretofore uncompiled) and the 1983 “Love Cats” b-side “Mr Pink Eyes” (left off Japanese Whispers, which otherwise gathers their 1983 non-album output). The final seven b-sides come from the 1984–85 period: “Happy the Man,” “Throw Your Foot” (both from “The Caterpillar”) and the Head on the Door extras “The Exploding Boy,” “A Few Hours After This,” “A Man Inside My Mouth,” “Stop Dead,” and “New Day.”

A video version of the compilation titled Staring at the Sea appeared on VHS and laser disc. It features clips of the thirteen a-sides and four additional album tracks: “10:15 Saturday Night,” “Play for Today,” “Other Voices,” and “A Night Like This.” The videos to “Killing an Arab” and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (both songs that predate the Tim Pope era) were post-assembled with unrelated footage.

The man on the cover of Standing on a Beach is John Button, a retired fisherman selected by Parched Art because he fit the aesthetic. The inner-gates picture the band’s thirteen single sleeves spread across sand. The compilation’s title comes from the opening of “Killing an Arab,” a song that sparked controversy at the time of its reappearance (despite its basis in a 1942 Albert Camus novel).

Standing on a Beach prompted a re-release of the 1979 Cure single “Boys Don’t Cry” with rerecorded vocals and a new video. “Boys Don’t Cry (New Voice · New Mix)” reached No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart and boosted the original (little heard at the time of its 1979 release) in the Cure oeuvre.

Standing on a Beach reached No. 3 in New Zealand, No. 4 in the UK, No. 6 in the Netherlands, and No. 48 on the US Billboard 200.


Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me

The Cure released their seventh album, the two-record Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, on May 26, 1987, on Fiction. It contains eighteen group-credited songs (74:35 run time) with lyrics by Robert Smith, including the hit singles “Just Like Heaven,” “Hot Hot Hot!!!” and “Why Can’t I Be You?”

Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me is the second Cure album with the five-piece lineup of Smith and co-founder Lol Tolhurst, plus recurrent bassist Simon Gallup and two recruits from the 1984 Top Tour: drummer Boris Williams and guitarist–keyboardist Porl Thompson. This is the third album (fourth counting Japanese Whispers) since Tolhurst switched from drums to keyboards.

Smith shares keyboard chores with Tolhurst and Thompson and plays recorder on “The Snakepit” and “Like Cockatoos.” The penultimate Kiss Me track, “Shiver and Shake,” features Porl on saxophone.

1. “The Kiss” (6:17)
2. “Catch” (2:42)
3. “Torture” (4:13)
4. “If Only Tonight We Could Sleep” (4:50)

1. “Why Can’t I Be You?” (3:11)
2. “How Beautiful You Are…” (5:10)
3. “The Snakepit” (6:56)
4. “Hey You!” (2:22)

1. “Just Like Heaven” (3:30)
2. “All I Want” (5:18)
3. “Hot Hot Hot!!!” (3:32) Smith forwards the song with a high-pitched quote from the 1974 hit “She” by French singer Charles Aznavour (“She may be the face I can’t forget”).
4. “One More Time” (4:29)
5. “Like Cockatoos” (3:38)

1. “Icing Sugar” (3:48)
2. “The Perfect Girl” (2:34)
3. “A Thousand Hours” (3:21)
4. “Shiver and Shake” (3:26)
5. “Fight” (4:27)

Sessions commenced in the late summer of 1986 at Miraval Studios in Correns, France, where The Cure wrapped the European leg of their Beach Party Tour at the Théâtre Antique in nearby Orange. Additional work occurred at Compass Point in Nassau, Bahamas, where local saxophonist Andrew Brennen guested on “Icing Sugar” and “Hey You!!!”

Sessions wrapped in early 1987, just before the arrival of keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, a friend of Boris Williams (and fellow Thompson Twins auxiliary) who played on the ensuing tour and subsequent Cure album. Smith co-produced Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me with ongoing Cure soundman David Allen, who also worked on 1987 titles by Norwegian new wavers Fra Lippo Lippi and former Doctors of Madness frontman Richard Strange.

“Why Can’t I Be You?” appeared on April 6 (seven weeks ahead of Kiss Me) as an advance single backed with “A Japanese Dream,” an exclusive track.

B. “A Japanese Dream” (3:27)

On June 22, “Catch” became the second single in select markets (UK, Germany, Australia, Japan) backed with the non-album tracks “Breathe” and (on 12”) “A Chain of Flowers.”

B1. “Breathe” (4:47)
B2. “A Chain of Flowers” (4:55)

In September, “Just Like Heaven” became the second single in North America and the third in Europe; backed with the exclusives “Snow in Summer” and (on 12”) “Sugar Girl.”

B1. “Snow in Summer” (3:26)
B2. “Sugar Girl” (3:14)

In February 1988, a remixed “Hot Hot Hot!!!” became the fourth single from the nine-month-old album (b/w “Hey You!!!”). The 12″ features an extended “Hot Hot Hot!!!” remix (7:03) and a longer “Hey You!!!” (4:06).

Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me achieved its highest positions in continental Europe, where it reached No. 3 on the Dutch and Swiss albums charts and peaked at No. 4 in Austria and Germany. The double-album peaked at No. 6 in the UK and No. 9 in Australia. It also went Top 20 in Sweden (No. 30) and New Zealand (No. 35). In North America, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me reached No. 30 in Canada and No. 35 on the Billboard 200 in the US, where it later certified Platinum for sales of one million.


Discography:


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1 thought on “The Cure

  1. Original intro (2018)
    “The Cure are an English art-pop/goth band from Crawley, West Sussex, that released eight proper albums and numerous singles on Fiction Records between 1979 and 1989, followed by five further studio discs during the subsequent two decades. The band was formed in 1976 as Easy Cure by musician/vocalist Robert Smith and originally featured bassist Michael Dempsey, who left after the first album to join The Associates.”

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