CLOSE TO ME (again and again and again……)

It was exactly six years ago today that I had a quick look at In Between Days by The Cure, together with the exceptional b-sides made available on the 12” vinyl here in the UK:-

mp3 : The Cure – The Exploding Boy
mp3 : The Cure – A Few Hours After This

It proved to be a very popular posting with a number of folk coming in to offer their own positive thoughts and views via the comments section. I thought it would be worth marking the anniversary with a look at the follow-up single, a track that was lifted off the album The Head on The Door:-

mp3 : The Cure – Close To Me

There were very significant changes made to the version that was released as a 45 in September 1985, namely the addition of a squeaky door and brass section.

mp3 : The Cure – Close To Me (7” version)

It’s one of the catchiest and memorable releases of the band’s entire career and deserved a far better fate than stalling at #24. It also came with a top-quality b-side, offering further evidence that the band were very much in their ‘imperial phase’ (copyright, Echorich)

mp3 : The Cure – A Man Inside My Mouth

A jazzy, fun-filled extended version, coming in at over six minutes in length, was also put together, demonstrating that Robert Smith & co. were as far removed from the gloomy goths that many in the media were lazily portraying them:-

mp3 : The Cure – Close To Me (12” version)

The single was also accompanied by one of the most memorable promotional videos of all time. Here’s the description offered up by wiki:-

Written and directed by the band’s frequent music video director Tim Pope, it consists of the band all inside a wardrobe on the edge of a cliff at Beachy Head.

Following the musical scheme of the song, which builds up instrumentally, all the band members are inside the wardrobe, but not playing instruments. Boris Williams is clapping to the beat, keyboardist Lol Tolhurst is playing a very small, handheld keyboard, and Porl Thompson on the top shelf is plucking a comb to represent the short high sounds in the song. Bassist Simon Gallup does not play, and instead appears to be tied up. Tim Pope later revealed that Gallup had a light bulb in his mouth to create a “lit from within” feel, and the cloth was there to hide the wire.

Robert Smith then comes from the back of the wardrobe and sings, also playing with finger puppets, which appear to be voodoo dolls of the band members, as when he moves them, the corresponding member moves. He then becomes more violent with the dolls, shaking them around heavily, which in turn causes the band members to hit into the sides of the wardrobe, which eventually results in the wardrobe falling off the cliff and into the sea. As they go into the sea, the wardrobe fills up slowly with water, like a capsized ship, but the band members continue to play their “instruments.” The video ends with the wardrobe full of water and a band member pushing a rubber duck across the screen.

The promo continued to be aired long after the single had come and gone from the charts, leading to the situation that Close To Me, over the years, would come to be arguably the most instantly recognisable of all their songs.

Fast forward to October 1990 and the news that The Cure intend to issue an album of remixes of some of their most popular songs alongside some re-recordings of the older material, with an eye on having them fit for the floors of indie and alt-discos. A month prior to the release of the album, and a remix single was issued as a taster:-

mp3 : The Cure – Close To Me (Closest Mix)

The remix treatment came courtesy of Paul Oakenfold and was engineered by Steve Osbourne, both of whom had helped Happy Mondays into the charts earlier in the year.

A slightly longer version was issued on 12”:-

mp3 : The Cure – Close To Me (Closer Mix)

It would have been really easy just to re-heat the old promo to go with the remix, but they came up with something of a genius idea. Here’s wiki again:-

There is also a music video for the version of the song that appeared on Mixed Up. The video picked up where the original video ended, with the wardrobe crashing down the cliffside and sinking to the bottom of the sea. Robert exits first and is attacked by an octopus (seen playing the horns later in the video). After his struggle, the other band members try to flee as well, and are attacked by a starfish. The video ends without any of the band members reaching the surface, though they could see a boat overhead.

The remix version of the song, despite coming out only five years after the original, reached #13 in the UK singles chart, reflecting the fact that the late 80s/early 90s were the high-point, sales-wise for the band (the next studio album, Wish, released in 1992 would provide them with their sole #1 LP).

Close To Me, in either of its versions, still sounds fresh and exciting and the live renditions in the shows of 2019 inevitably received just about the biggest cheers of any night.

JC

6 thoughts on “CLOSE TO ME (again and again and again……)

  1. I never got the “Mixed Up” album, but I did find the US CD single of the 1990 remix. Not bad as these things go, but I remember the “Primary [red mix]” by Keith LeBlanc as being the biggest prize. It’s funny that you also wrote about the 2nd video, which I do not remember AT ALL.

  2. It’s superficial to say, but I jumped ship (someone else’s train?) from the Cure when they went the hair and lipstick route. They just looked totally idiotic. That and the fact that they were one of the few legit UK post-punk acts to break in the States. I always took it kind of personally when a favorite band that I used to be able to see in a small club made it big. Fortunately, this only happened a few times, notably with the Clash and Simple Minds. (U2 as well, obviously, but I never really liked that band.)
    Am I the only TVV congregant that preferred the Cure as a trio, or is that the consensus?

  3. I agree with JTFL that there was a time that The Cure ‘style’ somewhat drowned out the importance of the music they were making. In saying that I do think the photo of above (Simon, in particular) really does exemplify a very specific mood of music at the time and the inevitable wannabees that followed.

    I always looked forward to a Tim Pope video. Close to Me was/is an amazing video. He was interviewed a great deal around this period and always seemed, to me anyway, to be a true eccentric/maverick and quite a charming man to boot.

    A great song ably assisted by a great video.

  4. Close To Me is, for me one of the band’s most eclectic and individual songs. The video captures the sealed in/claustrophobic feel of the song, from Smith’s almost paranoid singing to the way the melody has to fight through a chaos threatening to crush it at any point. At the same time, it’s almost The Cure making a Jazz/Swing tune!
    The original video is brilliant at bringing that claustrophobic feeling to life. It’s magical really.

    I can’t really say I have ever been much of a fan of the Oakenfold/Osborne remixes. In fact, most of Mixed Up is a mixed bag for me.
    The most interesting moment on Mixed Up isn’t actually on the album – Primary (Red Mix). Keith Leblanc manages to not mess with the Post Punk Dance feel of the original, but weave some ElectroDub dust in its open spaces.

    JTFL has a great point about losing “your bands” to the masses, even if it didn’t change them – which was rare. I will also always be a fan of the earliest iterations of The Cure over all others, but I truly feel the Robert Smith has always had the strength to do what he wants and go musically where he wants (even if that was at times very closely mirroring the rise of Joy Division and New Order – this not being a negative because each time he released a cracking track.)

  5. I know what you mean JTFL about waving goodbye to favourite bands to mass success and I’ve had similar experiences, but not with the Cure.

    Difference is where others (Simple Minds) got successful by becoming bloated and pompous (in U2’s case just even more bloated and pompous), the Cure got big on the back of becoming more delightfully quirky, wilful and unique. From the Walk onwards they unleashed an unmatched string of surreal and bonkers singles.

    This one is up there with their best imho

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