KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

Compilation Or Catalog? – THE CURE

[A brief explanation of my Compilation Or Catalog? series: Although I tend to be a completist, owning everything an artist has released, occasionally the only album I own is a compilation. This can often be a stepping-stone to exploring more of their work, but sometimes a “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” is the only thing I’ve heard. With this series I ask my readers to let me know if the compilation I have is sufficient or if there are specific albums I should check out. Normally I revisit the entire recorded output of a particular artist over numerous posts, which is the main purpose of this blog, but this gives me an opportunity to learn more about some lesser-known & under-explored artists in my collection]

The Cure Photo (circa 1985)The Cure was one of those bands that never had any impact on me. During my high school & college years they had a cult following in the US, and I was aware of them from working in various record stores, but they weren’t played on any of the radio stations I listened to and I didn’t know anyone who was a fan. By the time they cracked into the mainstream in the late-‘80s (first via college radio and later on the Pop charts), I wasn’t terribly interested in “indie” or “alternative” or “goth” so I had no interest in listening to their music. It’s not that I disliked them in any way, but there were plenty of other artists & genres that kept me entertained. Whenever I would hear them, either on the radio or in a movie, I liked what I heard but never enough (no pun intended) to buy any of their albums. Only one song ever made me think that I needed to check them out in the future: “Close To Me.” From the first time I heard that deep bass line & handclap-assisted rhythm with warm & bubbly synths, I fell in love with it, even though Robert Smith’s strangled lead vocal wasn’t something I normally responded to. In some ways this song bears a rhythmic similarity to A-ha’s huge 1985 hit, “Take On Me,” but it has a more claustrophobic arrangement than that shimmering pop classic. The horn section in the middle, with trumpet solos (both blasting & muted), was a brilliant addition. For years I only owned this song as part of the collection of extended remixes called Mixed Up, but I rarely played it because I didn’t particularly care for those versions.

It took another decade for me to finally get my hands on a compilation of their music. Simply titled Greatest Hits (2001), the track listing for this 18-song CD was chosen by main songwriter/singer/guitarist/keyboardist Robert Smith, and currently it’s the only Cure album that I own (I sold or traded Mixed Up several years ago). I played Greatest Hits a handful of times when it was released and it’s been sitting on the shelf ever since. A The Cure - Greatest Hitslittle over a week ago I decided to give it a spin, and after numerous listens I realized that I loved most of these songs and needed to find out more about this band. Before asking for your help with that decision, I want to share my thoughts on the highlights of this compilation, of which there are many. “Boys Don’t Cry” is an early melodic gem, with youthful punk-y energy, that’s not far off from the power-pop of that era. It has a great guitar hook and a memorable stop-start rhythm. “A Forest” is dark & ominous but still has a driving beat, and the bass-heavy arrangement & flanged guitar sound reminded me of Echo & The Bunnymen. Until recently I was a novice about that band, but thanks to the feedback I received on my post about their music, I’ve become a much bigger fan (and I’m pleased to be able to make that musical connection here). “Let’s Go To Bed” is a danceable synth-pop tune with an insistent groove & programmed percussion sounds. I love those excellent “doo doo doo” vocals mirroring the music.

“The Lovecats” has a bouncy, skiffle feel that I never would have expected to hear from The Cure when my only knowledge about them was based on promotional photos where they always looked very serious & gloomy. Everything about this song brings a smile to my face: the tack piano, brushed snare drum, half-spoken lead vocals & the “ba-ba-ba” scatted vocals in the chorus. “Inbetween Days” has a bright bass-driven groove with fast acoustic guitar strumming, some tasty percussion & a memorable synth melody. The 50-second instrumental intro is almost like an overture to this mini symphony, and the “Go on, go on…” section is one of many fantastic hooks. “Why Can’t I Be You?” stands out with its big stomping drums and synth-horn fanfare. Smith’s yelped vocals are a bit over-the-top, but they’re never distracting and in some ways they fit in with the huge production.

“Just Like Heaven” was their first US Top 40 hit, and you can hear why. It sounds like the perfect ‘80s soundtrack song, accompanying a driving scene or perhaps a montage of a happy teenage couple. This one is simply heavenly (pun intended), with its steady groove, descending chiming guitar line & lush synth washes. “Lullaby” is a moody ballad with a memorable sparse guitar figure, haunting bass line, slinky percussion and nearly-orchestral synths. Smith’s whispered vocals, which don’t arrive until a minute into the song, create a slightly creepy vibe (aided by the Alice Cooper-esque macabre nature of the lyrics) yet somehow remain soft & inviting. This one is slower and has a different feel from anything else on this CD. “Lovesong” reverts back to a dance beat but has just as much in common with ‘80s rockers like REM or The Smithereens with those chiming guitars. It’s a simple, straightforward love song (the title is not an ironic one, as far as I can tell) with all kinds of great hooks and a nice guitar solo as well. “Never Enough” moves along with programmed drums & a jagged rhythm, and the mix of rock instruments with a rave-inspired dance beat shows a Stone Roses influence. “High” has a lightly lilting 4/4 groove with sparkling percussion & a subtly catchy guitar pattern. It’s not as instantly brilliant as the previous songs I’ve mentioned, but it’s still excellent. “Friday I’m In Love” is a jangly pop masterpiece that could easily be mistaken for a cover of a lost ‘60s nugget. It’s certainly the happiest song on this collection, and I can’t help but wonder if their longtime fans hated it (in the same way REM fans never want to hear “Shiny Happy People” again). I’ve always enjoyed hearing this song, and without any preconceived The Cure Photo (circa 1989)notions of what The Cure should sound like, I think it’s as good as anything I’ve heard by them.

There are five songs I haven’t mentioned, all of which are listenable but aren’t up to the standards set by the rest of the material I’ve already discussed. Of these, “The Walk” is one of those ‘80s dance club songs, in the same vein as New Order. For that genre it’s quite good, I suppose, but it’s not really my thing. The production of “Wrong Number,” which I would describe as acid or jungle (although I’m not an expert on either of those genres, so I could be way off), reminds me of the sound David Bowie achieved on his Earthling album. One time Bowie collaborator Reeves Gabrels delivers some excellent guitar work, cementing the connection for me. There are also two “new” songs, neither of which did much for me (“Cut Here” comes across like they’re trying to replicate their early synth-heavy sound, but it’s lacking any major hooks).

Now that you know what I respond to in their music, I’m asking anyone who considers him/herself a Cure fan to let me know if Greatest Hits is all I need to hear, if I need to get my hands on their entire discography, or if it’s somewhere in the middle. If you think it’s the latter, which are the undisputed classic albums that I should get first, and what makes them so essential? Also, I believe most or all of their albums have been reissued as expanded 2-CD sets. Do I need any of them, or would the original single-disc pressings be sufficient? Or perhaps there’s a more comprehensive compilation that might save me some money but also expose me to the best of their music. It’s clear to me from the 18 songs on Greatest Hits that this band covers a lot of musical ground, much of which I really enjoy. I also realize that the songs I’m familiar with are probably their most commercial, and their album tracks may not be as instantly catchy, but that’s fine with me. I know that The Cure has soundtracked the lives of a lot of people, many during their formative years. Although I may never have that kind of connection to them, I’m always seeking out inspiring music…old & new…and hopefully The Cure can be part of that, with your help. I look forward to hearing from you.

UPDATE, DECEMBER 14, 2013: Since I posted this “Compilation Or Catalog?” entry in August, a large number of longtime Cure fans gave me some excellent recommendations regarding their discography. It was clear to me that I needed to check out more of their music beyond the Greatest Hits CD, but it was difficult to know where to start with over a dozen records in their catalog. Fortunately, the consensus was that I needed to hear at least four particular albums: The Head On The Door, Staring At The Sea (a collection of their early singles that most fans view as an essential album), Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and Disintegration. I’ve already gotten three of these (Kiss Me… is on order and I should have it soon) and after listening to each of them a couple of times I have to say that those recommendations were spot-on. I find that I respond equally to their shorter, pop-oriented songs and their longer, more atmospheric material. At this point I’m not sure I’ll need to get everything they’ve released, but I really love nearly everything I’ve heard so far. If I like Kiss Me… as much as the others I might have to delve more deeply into their discography. Some have suggested Wish as another good one, so maybe that’s what I’ll check out next. The Cure is obviously no longer simply a Compilation artist for me, but only time will tell if I’ll need to hear their full Catalog. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I’ve taken them to heart and have thoroughly enjoyed all of my new acquisitions.

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56 comments on “Compilation Or Catalog? – THE CURE

  1. mikeladano
    August 27, 2013

    I’m not really a big Cure fan so can’t offer much inside advice. Like yourself, I have the 2001 greatest hits CD. For me, it’s pretty much everything I need. Having said that, The Cure were one of the first bands I noticed that started putting out those big beautiful deluxe edition reissues of their back catalogue. That indicates that a high percentage of Cure fans already have all the albums, but like them enough to buy them again. Just an observation.

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    • Good point, Mike. One friend who has those deluxe editions (because he got them cheap through work) told me he doesn’t think they’re necessary for casual fans, but I want to hear from other fans who might feel differently. Until this past week the “Greatest Hits” CD was sufficient, but the more I got into these songs the more I wondered if there are other gems in their catalog. Some of the songs feature surprisingly impressive musicianship, which is always a selling point for me. Thanks for the feedback.

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      • mikeladano
        August 27, 2013

        I’m sure there are gems. One of my old co-workers recommended Kiss Kiss Kiss as his favourite.

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      • I believe it’s called “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me,” but based on your recent Ace Frehley posts I understand the error (haha).

        Since The Cure’s sound changed over the years, and I didn’t respond to every style they covered on the Greatest Hits CD, I’m hoping some of the album recommendations from fans will include an explanation of what’s great about them.

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  2. Heavy Metal Overload
    August 27, 2013

    Sorry can’t help much. From what little I know about them I’d be surprised if there wasn’t more good stuff to be heard on their albums.

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    • Thanks. I have a feeling that’s the case, but they have a lot of albums & have covered a lot of styles, and I’m hoping some fans can point me in the direction of albums that I’ll really enjoy.

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  3. ianbalentine
    August 27, 2013

    I tend to think that every worthwhile band worth a compilation has at least one great album that needs to accompany it on the shelf. In the Cure’s case, that would be Head On The Door. Everything else can be covered adequately via a comp, including Disintegration, which I always thought a tad overrated myself…excellent series!

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    • What style(s) did they cover on “Head On The Door”? The songs on the Greatest Hits CD run the gamut from one style to another, and some I like more than others. It’s possible that one fan’s essential album might just be adequate to me, and vice versa.

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      • ianbalentine
        August 27, 2013

        If I had to describe the styles covered on Head On the Door I’d say a cross between New Order and the 60s band LOVE. It’s got kind of a flamenco feel about it, but that’s just my opinion. I will second the opinion that their first comp, Staring At The Sea is pretty fantastic, but I’m unsure about what overlaps.

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      • Hmm, that’s an interesting comparison. I’ve never been a New order fan but I love Love (it’s always fun to write or say that). I will definitely keep “Head On The Door” near the top of my list, and once I figure out how much overlapping there is between the two comps I might seek out “Staring At The Sea” as well. Thanks again for your input.

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  4. 1537
    August 27, 2013

    I love the earlier compilation ‘Staring at the sea: The Singles’; I far prefer poppy Cure to full-on claustrophobic goth Cure. You really can’t beat all those early tracks, especially ‘Lovecats’ and ‘A Forest’ for me. I’ve heard a few of their LPs and friends with good taste have tried their darnedest to convince me of their perfection, but I’ve never heard quite enough to convince me.

    I think I was slightly put off them by the sheer fervour of their fans when I was at university – some of them literally lived for the Cure.

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    • Thanks for the feedback. I’ll have to see how many additional songs are covered by “Staring At The Sea” that aren’t on the “Greatest Hits” CD. I also like their poppy stuff, at least based on what I’ve heard, but there’s some excellent musicianship in that band & I wonder if the lesser-known album tracks might have more of an impact on me.

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  5. waynelaw
    August 27, 2013

    O.K not a giant fan but I do like them and pretty sure I have “Disintegration” somewhere in my collection. The thing those of us quasi-fans always appreciated were the super long cinemagraphic intros to the songs…you could go three or four minutes before always moody Robert Smith would start with any words….shades of Pink Floyd. That whole draw you in another world before gently smashing you on the head….love that. And like Floyd…much better to listen to a whole side instead of just one song.

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    • The Pink Floyd comparison is definitely a huge plus for me, so thanks for that feedback. Do you think “Disintegration” is the best example of this side of The Cure? These guys were huge when being a great musician wasn’t as much of a selling point as it used to be, but based on what I’ve listened to they’ve had some incredibly talented lineups. That’s one of the aspects I look forward to discovering, along with some more great songs.

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      • waynelaw
        August 28, 2013

        Rich,
        It is really the only Cure recording that I spent time with- that was the one that broke me down and got me to buy something. The songs work together in my humble opinion which makes the whole greater than the sum of parts.
        If you want to try and find some old Cure fans…I suggest heading down to your closest art district for a random Tuesday night opening of dark abstract work and looking for some spiked grey-haired dudes. That would be a start…or if you have a local bar where burnt out hipsters hangout, that might work also…good luck. And great detailed work as always.

        Wayne

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      • As always, you’re very helpful AND hilarious. I’m guessing any of those art district hipsters (I’m combining your descriptions) would likely recommend that I get everything The Cure ever committed to tape (or other recording medium), and to probably buy some dark eyeliner. Not sure how helpful that would be to me, since it’s unlikely I’ll ever become an über-fan, which is why I’ve been enjoying the feedback I’ve gotten so far. It seems like Disintegration, The Head On The Door and the Staring At The Sea compilation are the most highly recommended albums. I’m hoping the fact that most of the albums have been expanded & remastered means I’ll be able to find the original CD pressings at a nice low price.

        Thanks again, Wayne. I really appreciate your feedback.

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      • Anthony
        January 9, 2014

        Disintegration (where “lullaby” & “lovesong” were taken from), is well worth a look into. As stated above by waynelaw, the songs work alot better as a whole, rather than on a greatest hits.
        Disintergration is worth the price just for “pictures of you” & “fascination street”,which I never understood why they didn’t make it onto many of their compilations as they were both singles & did quite well. Disintegration is the only Cure album I can enjoy in full, the rest I am happy enough with a couple of their compilations.

        Personally I also prefer the Staring at the sea comp, as for the greatest hits (2001) they newly remastered all of the tracks (along with adding 2 new tracks).I don’t think it’s a bad mix, just that the original recordings sound better to me. Also, if you are not aware, the greatest hits came with a bonus disc on some editions, which was the whole compilation re-recorded using acoustic guitars. Not essential but an enjoyable added bonus.

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      • Hi Anthony. Thanks so much for your feedback. Since I wrote this post I received a lot of advice on which albums to check out, and it’s clear that The Cure is now more than a Compilation artist for me. I really like Staring At The Sea, The Head On The Door and especially Disintegration. This past week I got Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, which I’ve only listened to once. Based on that limited exposure, it’s good but not great (although a lot of the individual songs are among the best I’ve heard from them). I’m not sure how much further I’ll explore their catalog, but one friend suggested if I do get more of their albums I should probably go backwards from the ones I already own, since the earlier material is stronger than anything they’ve done in the last 20+ years. It seems like a lot of people agree with that sentiment.

        Thanks for reminding me about the acoustic re-recordings included with the Greatest Hits CD. I own that version but didn’t listen to the bonus disc when I wrote this post because I wanted to focus on the original recordings. I’m going to take that CD off the shelf & give it a listen soon.

        Best….
        Rich

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  6. cherryandcinnamon
    August 28, 2013

    I too own this ‘best of’ but none of their albums. Have while loving all the songs, it’s always been enough for me. On a loosely related note, you should check out the movie ‘this must be the place’ for Sean Penn’s performance as a Robert Smith style rock star 😉

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    • The Greatest Hits CD has always been enough for me as well, but after playing it so many times this past week I got the urge to hear more of their music for the first time. At least I’ve been getting some great feedback, so hopefully I’ll make wise purchases. I don’t remember hearing about This Must Be The Place, but I’ll definitely check it out (wondering if the title has any connection to the Talking Heads song). Penn is always a captivating screen presence (has been ever since I saw Fast Times At Ridgemont High on opening weekend in 1982).

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      • cherryandcinnamon
        August 28, 2013

        Yes, its absolutely in reference to the Talking Heads song. Something tells me you are going to love this film! (I did too).

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      • I will definitely be on the lookout for this movie. Thanks for the recommendation.

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      • cherryandcinnamon
        August 28, 2013

        Great! Would love to hear what you think of it 🙂

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      • It may be a while…I’ve got a queue of movies on my DVR that I never seem to get to. But I promise to share my thoughts whenever I get to it.

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  7. stephen1001
    August 28, 2013

    Spectacular post – and I’m excited as I have much to say on this subject!

    What I would recommend:

    1) Staring at the Sea does an adequate job of summarizing the Cure up to the mid 80s. Two of the albums from this period are on the 1001 list (Pornography & Seventeen Seconds) but personally, the earlier stuff isn’t as interesting musically. I believe they were a trio in the beginning and so the gorgeous layered arrangements are missing early on. Though many people absolutely revere those early records!

    2) If you enjoy the long intros, nobody does it better than the Cure. And they did it best on Disintegration. They had it down to a science: introduce one instrument at a time, competing melodies, often extending as Wayne pointed out, several minutes into the song. The album is their last on the 1001, it’s admittedly front-loaded, but up to and including the song Fascination Street, it’s worthy of every syllable of praise it receives, even from South Park! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwA8V6hcqQo

    3) Mixed Up also did little for me but the rest of their body of work in the 90s is off the charts. 1992’s Wish might be their most cohesive record. Apart from a couple upbeat tunes you mentioned (High & Friday I’m in Love) it’s a moodier affair, but has a couple of their best songs in Doing the Unstuck and A Letter to Elise. The live record Show is also a strong effort, featuring a lot of songs from this period.

    If you enjoy the more up-tempo Cure, Wild Mood Swings may be the best bet. It’s an eclectic set, jazzy at times, pop at others. I love it (it’s likely my favourite) but I think it suffered from a syndrome HMO was talking about recently with an album by Carcass: too accessible for their die-hard fans, still a bit too out there for the mainstream.

    Bloodflowers in 2000 is their last absolute triumph. It looked like it was going to be their last (Smith’s lyrics talking about the fire being almost out) but because it was so well received, I think he ended up feeling rejuvenated and they’ve carried on from there. The two albums since have had moments, but not in the same conversation as the 1992-2000 releases. That 8-year period also had some great singles (Burn, from the Crow soundtrack) and some stellar b-sides (A Pink Dream was a hidden gem on the Mint Car single).

    So to answer your question, compilation or catalog? I suppose the answer’s a bit of both!

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    • Thanks Geoff for that thorough comment. It’s incredibly helpful. Disintegration seems to be most people’s choice for a great entry point into their studio album discography. I had forgotten about that South Park episode (haven’t watched it regularly in years, even though I think they’re geniuses), but if Matt & Trey recommend it, who am I to disagree?

      Later today I’ll be comparing the track listings of Greatest Hits and Staring At The Sea. If there’s not too much overlap, perhaps Staring… will be a good intro to the early years for me. If I end up loving it, then I can delve into the individual albums.

      You’re the first person who’s had anything to say about their work from the 90s & beyond. Wild Mood Swings sounds like something that might work for me, since I’m not a die-hard fan but also not a mainstream listener. It could land right in my musical wheelhouse. Good to know that I probably won’t need to explore their recent work unless I become an obsessive collector…not likely considering the amount of time that would take.

      Do you have any thoughts on the expanded 2-CD versions of their albums? Are they just geared for the die-hards? I’m hoping that’s the case, since I should be able to find the single-disc versions at reasonable prices.

      I will be referring to your comment anytime I explore one of the albums you mentioned. Thanks again.

      Rich

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      • stephen1001
        August 28, 2013

        I can’t say I have any of the Cure’s 2-CD deluxe reissues (though I have a couple of Pavement’s expanded 2CD reissues and they’re solid!) – I’d say the more economical single disc versions would be the right starting point.

        And my pleasure, they’re a fascinating group. Some of my friends & family with very similar music tastes struggle to get past Robert Smith’s voice, others dismiss them with labels of goth or emo. Even if you don’t make any further posts about them, please do let me know what you think of any of their other recordings!

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      • It’s funny that you mentioned Pavement, as just this past weekend I picked up the 2-CD edition of Crooked Rain Crooked Rain for $5.99. I already had the standard edition of Slanted & Enchanted, and although I’m not a huge fan I do like some of their music and that was a deal I couldn’t pass up. Based on what I saw of The Cure’s deluxe editions, your comment is accurate. The standard versions should be sufficient. I also had an issue with Smith’s voice for a long time (that style of singing didn’t do it for me) but I eventually came around. I continue to have issues with Morrissey’s voice, which is one of the reasons I’ve never really gotten into The Smiths. I do have a few of their albums and I enjoy them for Marr’s guitar work, but the voice keeps me from becoming a bigger fan.

        I doubt I’ll be writing about The Cure again, but I’ll try to remember to post some brief thoughts on whatever albums I get as an addendum at the bottom of this post.

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      • stephen1001
        August 29, 2013

        My wonderful wife teases me for being such a Morrissey fan as he generally only sings 3 notes!

        I just made a post about Van Morrison yesterday (added a link to your Van catalogue reviews) and I find although it’s growing on me, I still have issues with VM’s voice. However, much like Morrissey, he’s smart enough to surround himself by brilliant musicians!

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      • Sorry for the delayed reply here, but I just got back from nearly a week in Paris. Thanks again for the link to my Van Morrison series in your post. That’s a great point about Van & Morrissey being similar regarding their surrounding musicians (and of course their last names). I never thought Van’s voice was an obstacle, so I’ve always considered him a great singer (or at least a great “vocal stylist”)…but now I can see that his voice isn’t for everyone. And it’s the same with Morrissey for me (and Eddie Vedder, but that’s another discussion).

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      • stephen1001
        September 5, 2013

        Not to worry – I think Eddie’s about as polarizing a vocalist as there is!
        But by playing in a band with Gossard & McCready, he seems to have at least followed the Morrissey/Van Morrison all-star ensemble template.

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      • Yep, thus continuing the theme of our conversation. I know a lot of people who think Vedder is the best vocalist on the planet, and I literally cannot listen to him. I’ve never said he’s a bad singer…he’s just someone I don’t enjoy. On all the songs I’ve heard I’m always impressed by their musicianship, and I appreciate that they follow their own muse without a care for mainstream commercial success, but I’ll let other people enjoy them. I’ve got plenty of amazing music to occupy my time. I’m sure you get that.

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      • stephen1001
        September 7, 2013

        And to bring the conversation full circle back to the cure – a good friend in high school & I eventually had to agree to disagree about them, I don’t think he could get past Robert Smith’s vocals.

        Though he compromised and still played the bass for our talent show cover of Just Like Heaven.

        I think I’ll borrow that philosophy about groups I’m not particularly fond of, ‘I’ll let other people enjoy them’!

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      • At least your friend had enough of an open mind to play bass on the song. I know a lot of musicians who would refuse, but not me. I prefer playing originals anyway, but I’m open to playing covers from time to time even if I don’t like the band. I’ve never been a fan of Bon Jovi but learned one of their songs for a friend’s wife’s birthday party a few years ago. I won’t be joining a Bon Jovi cover band anytime soon, though.

        I’m glad you’ve embraced my “I’ll let other people enjoy them” comment. I think it’s an open-minded way of life that every music fan should embrace, instead of shoving their personal tastes down everyone’s throats (I know a lot of people like that).

        Thanks for bringing the conversation back to The Cure. I’m hoping to get a few of the albums that have been recommended here within the next month. Looking forward to them.

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  8. John
    August 28, 2013

    I think Stephen is spot on with his assessment. “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” was my first cure record, and like most “double’ albums, it has some great songs, but also some filler too. “Disintegration” and “Wish” are both pretty solid, as is “The Head on the Door,” which came out in the mid 80’s I think. That’s the studio album I find myself listening to the most these days for some reason.

    “Staring at the Sea” is great, I totally agree that it is a great sampler of the earlier years. I have “Galore” which is another greatest hits package that came out just before the greatest hits compilation you wrote about. It covers a lot of the same ground, but the two “bonus” tracks are pretty solid and its worth getting too once you dig a little deeper into the catalog.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of their live cd’s, but people do rave about them.

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    • Hi John. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on these albums. I’m starting to get the sense that Disintegration, The Head On The Door and Staring At The Sea might be the three best Cure records to start with, and I can take it from there if I get really into them. I don’t know much about their lineup changes over the years, but I can tell that at times they had some incredible musicianship which makes me think that I would love at least one of their live albums. I rarely consider live albums essential, though, so I would wait until I know their music better before delving that deeply into their catalog.

      Thanks again for stopping by. You comments have been very helpful.

      Rich

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  9. Glenn S.
    August 28, 2013

    Before I read your post I was going to suggest Mixed Up (the only Cure album I currently own) but it sounds like you’ve been there, done that. I used to have Staring At The Sea but that was so long ago I don’t even remember why I ended up selling it. No offense to their fans but I’ve heard enough of their stuff to know that for me they’ll always be a “compilation” band. I just wish they’d release “The Cure’s Poppiest Tracks” so I could buy that and be done with it.

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    • Hey Glenn. The Cure slowly went from being a non-entity to a “compilation band” for me over the years, and now I think I need to hear a little more of their music. Not sure I’ll ever be a completist when it comes to them, but I get the feeling there’s more for me to enjoy beyond the Greatest Hits CD. I like the idea of a “poppiest tracks” compilation…and the deluxe edition could come with a bonus disc of their more atmospheric material.

      Thanks for the feedback.

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  10. Bob Cooper
    September 13, 2013

    I would like to give you a strong recommendation to The Wish. I had a similar diffidence in the early days to The Cure, but their tunes just seem to get into my head and dance around with eternal optimism or brood away darkly, reflecting and exorcising my own more troubled emotions. They capture the highs and lows of being in and out of love like no-one else.

    The Wish is their most cohesive album and really takes you on a journey of emotions… (All my girlfriends are described in there somewhere).It stands up well with age and deserves far more credit than has been given here.

    The abum opener, Open is a moody enough start , with something of the atmosphere of early Alice Cooper Band circa Love It To Death…(if you don’t know it, listen to that too…it will surprise you).

    Then there’s From The Edge Of The Deep Green Sea, again a very dark and almost threatening track about a failing one night stand. Each track that follows has a different shade, with faster or slower tempos and textures lifting and falling like a spiral.

    Listen especially to Dear Elise, which combines both extremes of love and desperation, while Friday I’m in Love is a spirit lifter. To Wish Impossible is an achingly wistful yet beautiful track sumptously laced with violin.. The lyrics are strong throughout and though there is the odd less engaging song , the whole album more rewarding for a complete listen.

    I have tried other Cure albums but I always return to either The Wish or Staring at the Sea.

    I have seen The Cure live once and it was two hours of rapturous melody making from Robert Smith and the gang. It was such a great experience, but I still come back to the same 2 albums.

    Listen to The Wish in its entireity a few times and then let’s hear your views.

    ps…Personally, I’ve never understood the comparison with The Floyd …they are two of my favourite bands …The Cure splattering melody all over the shop and Floyd taking you on a journey of grand proportions and intrigue. Different music for different desires, needs and passions and both such a great reason for staying alive!

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    • Hi Bob. Thanks for the feedback. Based on previous recommendations, I already have the following Cure titles on order: The Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Disintegration and Staring At The Sea. Those will be my first steps into their catalog, and if I enjoy them as much as I expect to (and as much as others have predicted), The Wish will be my next stop in their discography.

      I appreciate all the detailed descriptions, and you had me at “the atmosphere of early Alice Cooper Band…” since I’ve already revisited their complete catalog & written about it here.

      As for the Pink Floyd comparisons, I can’t really comment yet because I don’t know the individual Cure albums. I often think Floyd is referenced whenever an artist has slow, atmospheric tunes, so it can be a good gauge even if the specific comparison isn’t completely accurate. As a lifelong Floyd fan, I’m always drawn to artists that are described as capturing a similar feel. There are plenty of prog bands who strive for that & often achieve it, and sometimes an artist will take the “atmospheric/innerspace” vibe & use it for their own purposes. The current band Shearwater comes to mind.

      Again, thanks for your input. I will definitely share my thoughts on The Wish whenever I get to it.

      Cheers!
      Rich

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  11. Breadalbane
    September 13, 2013

    Here’s my very brief consumer’s guide to The Cure: If Boris Williams is the drummer on the album, it’s worth acquiring. If not, it’s skippable. (He’s a very good drummer, and his tenure with the band just happens to overlap with their creative high point from 85-92 or so.)

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    • As a drummer myself, I appreciate your enthusiasm for Boris Williams’ contributions to The Cure’s music. I don’t have the individual albums yet so I can’t agree or disagree, but I have noticed that a lot of the songs I love from the compilation feature some killer rhythm tracks. I currently have the following Cure titles on order: The Head On The Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Disintegration and Staring At The Sea. Once I have them in my possession I’ll start looking into the contributing musicians on each. Thanks for your feedback.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  12. Pingback: “Compilation Or Catalog?” Updates | KamerTunesBlog

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  14. automeris
    June 24, 2014

    I didn’t see this mentioned anywhere, but I thought you would like to know that The Cure took their name from the Nick Drake song “Time Has Told Me”.

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    • Thank you for that info. It hadn’t been mentioned before & I was unaware of the connection between Nick Drake & The Cure. Considering I also wrote a post on Drake’s brief discography, this information is greatly appreciated.

      Best wishes,
      Rich

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  15. Phillip Helbig
    June 24, 2014

    Compilation or catalog? How about just “Just Like Heaven”? .-) (I’ll get me coat.)

    Seriously, please review them in detail. Like you, they really never had any effect on me, but perhaps there are a few gems—an album, or a compilation—worth getting. The Goth image was never my cup of tea, but since becoming an ardent Iron Maiden fan, I recognize that music can be good even if the trappings aren’t to my taste (the musicians in Maiden themselves are OK, but the whole Eddie nonsense annoys me).

    Speaking of Iron Maiden, I see a similarity between “Just Like Heaven” and “22 Acacia Avenue”: both of them remind me of The Easybeats’ “Friday on My Mind”. Play all 3 back to back.

    I bought the latest Uriah Heep CD today, the first after the death of Trevor Bolder. The few albums the “new” lineup (i.e. that which, with a couple of changes, has been around for 30 years or so) are quite good. Classic Heep have some good stuff and some filler. A blog post by you would be great to sort it out.

    I also saw The Rolling Stones last week.

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    • Thanks for chiming in here, Phillip. I ended up getting about 5 or 6 individual Cure albums as a result of recommendations from readers & friends after writing this post. I really like them but they’re somewhere between a “compilation” and “catalog” artist for me now. Certainly a best-of won’t do the trick but I don’t feel the need to own everything they’ve released. I will likely be content with my current Cure collection for some time.

      Regarding Uriah Heep, I only have a compilation and maybe one individual album, so I likely wouldn’t be able to provide much info about them here. I tend to focus on artists where I own all of their albums (or close to it).

      How was The Stones show? My brother saw them in Israel a couple of weeks ago and loved it, but he’s not much of a music lover. The set list was like a greatest hits collection, so it was perfect for him but would probably be too predictable for fans who know their music really well (myself included).

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      • Phillip Helbig
        June 24, 2014

        Yes, mostly a greatest-hits show, but that’s fine with me since all I have is Rolled Gold, a 2-CD compilation of early stuff. I’m not really a Stones fan, but do like a few songs, probably not coincidentally a big overlap with their better known songs. I would love to see Jethro Tull (who, sadly, are no more) play essentially any album from start to finish instead of half of their “regular” set, but was happy that the Stones didn’t do all of Emotional Rescue. 🙂

        Not much show, actually; a pretty basic stage setup, no giant penises. A relatively small band, most of who have been with the Stones for decades. A well oiled machine, but not just going through the motions.

        Mick mostly strutted and sang (quite good, though I have to say the best “old” singer is, hands down, Klaus Meine. I saw him recently at an unplugged concert, and he sounds exactly like he did in the 1970s), of course, but played guitar and keyboards on a few songs (but, in order to avoid being mistaken for Geddy Lee, not at the same time). Although not an expert on either, perfectly adequate, and I always like the singer to at least occasionally play an instrument (I’m suspicious of people who “only” sing—even really great front men like Freddie Mercury occasionally played an instrument (and Mercury was quite good at piano)). He is still a very good harmonica player.

        A nice touch was having Mick Taylor on for a few numbers.

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      • That Stones set sounds perfect for you. I’ve been a huge fan since I was a teenager and own every officially-released album (although I haven’t bought every compilation for rare b-sides, live tracks, etc). I only saw them once, on the Steel Wheels tour (1989?) and I loved it. It would be nice if they could do shows featuring lesser-heard songs or full albums, but you can’t do that when you’re playing stadiums. I had forgotten that Mick Taylor is still showing up for a few songs on this tour. His era is my favorite of their career so it’s nice to know he’s part of their world again.

        Didn’t realize Klaus Meine could still deliver those vocals like he did 30+ years ago. That’s pretty impressive.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        June 24, 2014

        There is a live Scorpions CD MTV Unplugged, recorded in Athens. What we saw was essentially the same set. Keith Richards said that any song worth playing sounds good on an acoustic guitar. (I would add that it also sounds good on an unplugged electric guitar as well.) Interestingly, and admirably, it has little overlap with their Acousticity CD from a decade or so ago (where they also played some covers).

        It really hit me during “Black Out”, which has a classic 1970s power-tenor vocal. Perhaps because of the lack of electric guitars and more relaxed percussion, the vocals stood out more than usual, and really sounded exactly like the original.

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      • I completely agree with Keith Richards’ comment about songs needing to sound good acoustically. In most of the bands I’ve played in, I’ve tried to convince others to do acoustic versions, even just in rehearsals. It’s the best way to find out how strong the song is. Some bands probably can’t do that, but it’s an excellent general rule.

        I’ll have to keep an eye out for those Scorpions acoustic releases. I’m more of a casual fan so I only have a few albums and compilations, but I’d love to hear more.

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      • Phillip Helbig
        June 25, 2014

        I’m not a huge fan; I have World Wide Live, Love at First Sting (one of the “classics”), Crazy World (which includes the atypical “Wind of Change” but is mostly hard rock), the recent Sting in the Tail and Come Black (half re-recorded classics, half covers, including the Beatles’ “Across the Universe”) and MTV Unplugged. I just bought Acousticity but haven’t listened to it yet (but know it is good since I’ve seen bits of the video on YouTube).

        I recently saw Uli Roth, who performed some songs from his time, as well as Michael Schenker (whose latest effort has been getting really good reviews), whom I’ll see soon again as well and will also perform a few songs from his time (in Europe, including former classic-era Scorpions Hermann Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass). This, along with “obscure” songs from the acoustic sets, have convinced me that there are more gems to be found. While the 1980s is probably not their best time (like most bands), I’ll probably get more of the classic albums and also some recent albums (which, like new albums by Iron Maiden or Uriah Heep, make practically no impact except among the fans).

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      • Hopefully they will release one of those “Complete Albums” CD sets like many other bands have done recently. I just got through the UFO set (speaking of Michael Schenker) and it’s perfect for me. I used to only have a compilation and a live album, and now I own all of their classics (plus a few later duds) in one compact box including bonus tracks.

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  16. Kevin
    December 2, 2016

    I know this is an old post and you’re probably well past your Cure curiosity phase, but I’d like to weigh in, briefly.

    Staring At The Sea is an excellent collection of their early work. Very well chosen.

    The Head On The Door was my first; a sentimental favorite and pretty solid.

    Kiss Me… is stacked with great songs and possibly my favorite with “The Kiss.”

    Disintegration has some great moments, but I always thought it was a bit bloated and overrated.

    Wish would be the one I would recommend. I think it is their strongest set of songs top to bottom. It was a pleasant surprise when it came out as I wasn’t sure how much they had left in the tank. I loved/love it. Nothing they have done since comes close.

    Like

    • Thanks, Kevin. I ended up getting all of the albums you mentioned. I don’t remember how I would rank them but I was impressed with each one. I don’t specifically remember Wish so I’ll have to revisit it soon. Thanks for continuing this conversation. Hope you’re having a great weekend.

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