IT REALLY WAS A CRACKING DEBUT SINGLE (4)

Wiki advises that the discography of The Cure consists of thirteen studio albums, five live albums, ten compilation albums, ten extended plays and thirty-seven singles, together ten video albums and forty-three music videos.

It all began in December 1978 with a release on the indie label Small Wonder that operated out of a record shop of the same name in the east end of London.

mp3 : The Cure – Killing An Arab

It’s impossible to imagine a song with such a title being given any sort of release these days; let’s just say that any singer or band would likely find themselves at the rough end of some serious protests, on-line and in person at gigs or other personal appearances. Nobody would pay any attention to the explanation behind the title and subject matter, namely that it is concerned entirely with an incident in a famous French novel dating back to the 1940s, and instead the songwriter would be accused of stirring up racial hatred. Indeed, such is the emotion around the words ‘Killing An Arab’ that this very post might attract some nutters directed here via a search engine or two. If so, please go away….this is, as you can see, a blog about music and not a place where you get dodgy advice to further destabilise the world.

Robert Smith has, on a number of instances over the years, admitted he had rather given the song an alternative title. It was one he wrote while he was still at school and hugely influenced by the issues that abound throughout L’Etranger by Albert Camus, and as such is meant to be a high-brow and clever effort rather than any racist call-to-arms. Sadly, it has been hijacked as such by far too many people and it has also, understandably, been banished from the nation’s airwaves over the years as we go from one Middle-Eastern conflict to the next…..although, sadly, for every station that has banned it there seem to be just as many who rejoice in playing it having missed the whole point completely.

There was actually very little in the way of protest back in 1978, as can be evidenced by the fact that Fiction Records, to whom the band had just signed, would re-release the single three months later. It was a single that was well received by the critics, with a number of favourable reviews in the weekly music papers, but this didn’t translate into any huge numbers of sales. It would take until April 1980, and the release of their fourth single, A Forest, before there was real commercial success, after which there was no stopping them.

Killing An Arab came with an equally enjoyable track, one whose sound was akin to the post-punk minimalist-style that was being played by bands such as Talking Heads but with a lyric that captured the misery and frustration of being a bored teenager:-

mp3 : The Cure – 10:15 Saturday Night

Indeed, it was the b-side rather than the a-side that got The Cure signed to Fiction Records.

Is the debut their best ever single? I don’t think there’s many who would make that claim. But what is? I genuinely can’t answer that as it changes on a regular basis depending on my particular mood.

JC

THE MUCH ANTICIPATED RETURN OF SICKBOY

Sorry if the headline and image has got you thinking this has something to do with Trainspotting. It is merely the ramblings of a man who. not long ago, was at death’s door being saved only by the love of his best friend and his best friend’s daughter as theu bring him records obtained from a charity shop. Over to you Badger…..

The Charity Shop (Record) Challenge – Part Two

The second brightly wrapped parcel has balloons on it. SWC’s daughter helps me unwrap it and she tells me a story about a balloon and squeezes of my leg (“because when I’m poorly Daddy tells me a story and gives me a cuddle”). This balloon travels up in the air and doesn’t stop until it reaches the moon when it gets there it is befriended by a lion who plays it with but pops it with his claws. This makes the lion sad, so sad that he has to do a poo (cue mad child laughter). I’ve repeated that word for word.

She’s four (just) and already tells better stories and more believable ones than her daddy.

The record has a silver grey sleeve and this is deeply unimpressive to the little girl. She wants to open up the third one which has lions and bears on the paper, I imagine these were the inspiration for the story that I’ve just repeated. She opens it and that one is a blue record which she tells me is ‘Mummys favourite colour – she should have that one’ she tells me, after listening to it I have to agree because its terrible.

Anyway back to the second one. This one for those of you who have been trying to guess is ‘Crotch Deep Trash’ by The Soup Dragons and is as Charity Chic would say ‘A real find’.

Record 2 – Crotch Deep Trash (extended version) – The Soup Dragons – Price £1.99

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I’ve spent a lot of time in charity shops and I have never seen anything by the Soup Dragons ever, I now own four 12”s by the Soup Dragons, all of them have been given to me, all of them have come from charity shops. Seriously. (The others are Backwards Dog, Mother Universe and I’m Free (remix)).

Now cast your eye at the title it clearly states that this is an ‘extended version’ – this is saying something as the record is pretty done and dusted in three minutes. I’m not sure by how much they extended this but it wasn’t by much. Regardless of this, its an excellent record, all shouty vocals, screechy guitars and pounding drums, it sounds a lot of like ‘Automatic’ era Jesus and Mary Chain and that folks is a very good thing.

Backwards Dog – This is also very good. Apologies for the recording quality of both though.

mp3 : Soup Dragons – Crotch Deep Trash
mp3 : Soup Dragons – Backwards Dog

Unlike Record 3 which is Why Can’t I Be You? (12” Version) by The Cure – Price £2.50

Now before you all jump up and down on my injured bollocks and expel me for ever from indie school for being rude about my elders, hear me out. I love this single. I own several Cure records and used to even have a big baggy black jumper called ‘Bob’ which I left in a pub in Leeds in 1993 and waited outside at 9am the next morning so that I could get it back. So I like the Cure.

However, why in the name of everything that is precious, they though that this 12” version would be acceptable is a complete mystery to me. Its utter bobbins, it removes all the good bits of the original and pads it out with effects and loops and soundclashes and it just sounds like Modern Romance have recorded it and not The Cure. The bastards. I would actually rather be back in hospital listening to Ron in the bed next to mine bang on about ‘Bloody Poles’ than listen to that again. Its eight minutes long as well.

The B-Side is called ‘A Japanese Dream’ and it’s a bit better but you know only just. If only because it goes on about monkeys and stuff.

mp3 : The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You (remix)
mp3 : The Cure – A Japanese Dream

(JC adds….Badger is spot on with his analysis of this. I once bought a second hand copy of this 12″ single solely with the intenion of posting ot on the blog. One play letter and that idea was ditched…..)

“Can we do one more” the little girl asks me, I agree, I’m enjoying myself, to be honest, SWC has even made me cup of tea and bought out some plates for the brownies, its nice to be around friendly people (and SWC). So we unwrap the fourth one which is back to the Peppa Pig paper “I only had three rolls of paper” he says. His daughter unwraps it and laughs at the sleeve. It’s the back of the sleeve she’s laughing at. “Bum” she says. She’s right. I’m looking at the backside of a female and a very smug looking Dave Gahan.

The fourth record is “Personal Jesus” – Depeche Mode – Price £1.99

“That’s definitely worth more than that” SWC says. He’s probably right, I once sold a 12” of a Depeche Mode song on Ebay for about £35 – they are really collectible for some unfathomable reason.

Now, you can re read my bit about the Cure here if you like because the same rules apply about Depeche Mode. They’ve taken one of their better singles and remixed it for the single and in doing that bloody ruined it. Here folks we have

mp3: Depeche Mode : Personal Jesus “Holier Than Thou” Version.

The record and the remix seems a bit smug for some reason if you ask me, still let’s have a look at the B Sides….One of them is badly scratched so we will gloss over that one but here is the other one

mp3 : Depeche Mode : Personal Jesus (acoustic)

So it’s the same song again, sorry. Its slightly better than the remix version, but the quality is so bad it sounds like Gahan is whispering his way through it, which he probably is to be fair.

So that takes us up to record 4 – records 5 6 and 7 to follow.

BADGER

ONE FROM FAT BOB AND THE BOYS

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Here’s a band that I’ve had three or four goes at trying to do an ICA but howver much I push it around it always ends up just being full of great singles.

These tunes are lifted from a 12″ single released away back in 1990 which featured a top-notch b-side as well as a radical remix of an earlier single:-

mp3 : The Cure – Never Enough (Big Mix)
mp3 : The Cure – Harold and Joe
mp3 : The Cure – Let’s Go To Bed (Milk Mix)

And while I’m here, in celebration of the fact that The Twilight Sad have been opening for The Cure throughout the world tour of 2016….

mp3 : Robert Smith – There’s A Girl In The Corner

B-side to It Was Never The Same, the Sad’s final single of 2015.

Enjoy.

RE-ISSUE, RE-PACKAGE, RE-EVALUATE THE SONGS….

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In 1986, The Cure enjoyed huge sales thanks to the release of Standing On A Beach, a 13-track compilation of all the band’s singles up to that point. Reaching #4 in the album charts, it was up until that point the biggest selling and highest placed of any of their records and there’s no doubt it increased both their profile and their fan base.

Just four years later, the band and record label tried a similar trick with the release of Mixed Up, this time an 11-track compilation comprising different mixes of 10 old singles and one brand new song. Released towards the end of November 1990, it was a great bit of marketing as it was sure to find its way onto many a Xmas list….

The album was a big success hitting #8 in the UK charts but more importantly climbing to #14 in the US album charts and thus maintaining the momentum from the success of the previous year’s Disintegration.

Mixed Up was supported by the release of two singles – the aforementioned new song which was Never Enough as well as the re-issue, re-package and remix of a single from 1985:-

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

The information on the CD single says

Produced by Robert Smith and David M Allen (Horns by Real Party) (1985)
Remixed by Paul Oakenfold and Engineered by Steve Osborne, June 1990

The remix proved more popular than the original reaching #13 in the charts as opposed to #24 back in 1985 – proof if any was needed that The Cure were now a band with more followers and admirers than ever before.

The two other tracks were also remixes of earlier singles, but which didn’t make the final cut for the Mixed Up album:-

mp3 : The Cure – Just Like Heaven (Dizzy Mix)

Produced by Robert Smith and David M Allen (1987)
Remixed by Bryan ‘Chuck’ New, September 1990

mp3 : The Cure – Primary (Red Mix)

Produced by Robert Smith and Mike Hedges (1981)
Remixed by Keith Le Blanc, September 1990

Personally, I’m not convinced by either remix, but then again I was, and remain, a big fan of the original versions.

Enjoy.

SEND ME A LULLABY

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The Cure have released 41 singles going back to Killing An Arab in 1978 right through to The Perfect Boy exactly 30 years later. But I would never have guessed that Lullaby was the one that performed the best in the UK singles chart when it crawled its way up to #5 in 1989.

I would have put a fair amount of money that The Lovecats was the holder of that title, but it only scratched its way to #7 in 1983, although I’m guessing that in terms of actual sales it in fact outsold Lullaby.

And even if you told me that the biggest success wasn’t The Lovecats, I’d have then placed whatever was left of my cash on Friday I’m In Love, but this only swooned its way to #6 in 1992.

So the best performing 45 turns out to be the one about the creepy and haunting tale of an eight-legged creature that frightened Robert Smith is in his nightmares as a youngster. Or, is in fact the song, as has been suggested in some places, really about drug addiction and dependency but written in such a way that it gets past the censors at the BBC for the all important airplay?

Either way, I think its one of the most inventive arrangements to feature on any record by The Cure, and once more I’ve dug out the 12″ single from the cupboard for you all to enjoy once more along with two rather decent b-sides:-

mp3 : The Cure – Lullaby (extended mix)
mp3 : The Cure – Babble
mp3 : The Cure – Out Of Mind

Enjoy

 

FROM THE SOUTH-WEST CORRESPONDENT..WHAT’S IN YOUR BOX (18)

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TEARS OF A CLOWN

The Cure : Mint Car

Ok I’m going to be blunt here. Mint Car features on The Cure album Wild Mood Swings. It is the best song on that album.  I think its fair to say that Wild Mood Swings was the not The Cure’s finest moment. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s their worst album by some way (Disintegration being their best and I’d take anyone outside who wants to argue).

mp3 : The Cure – Mint Car

I’m also not going to sit here and tell you about The Cure, where they formed, and all that – you know that, surely. They have some great records, no scratch that, they have some wonderful records, again most of which you will own, know, or played the hell out of. There are a great singles band and just for the hell of it and just in case there is someone out there who has never heard The Cure, the best three Cure singles to start your collection with are Just Like Heaven, Pictures of You and Lovesong (the first and third songs being two of the greatest love songs ever written). Mint Car is about twenty sixth on that list. Just above A Forest.

mp3 : The Cure – Just Like Heaven (acoustic)
mp3 : The Cure – Pictures Of You
mp3 : The Cure – Lovesong (acoustic)

So I’m going to talk about crying instead (in a very round about kind of way – and yes I know this is a music blog), and the reason why is this. My one year old has been poorly this week she has been a small fiery mixture of tears, snot, gunge and regurgitated carrot. She’s  fine now though, thanks for asking. A few days ago I drove her to the beach where she likes to run around a bit, well I say run, more stagger, totter and then fall over, but you get my drift. Anyway, we were driving home and I had Guess The Year on Radio Devon on the stereo, (yes Radio Devon, I happen to like Guess the Year with Shep, shut up) and it was 1979 (I got it quite early on, the DJ caters to the low common denominator…”this was the year Margaret Thatcher came to power”, was one of the clues).

Then, all of a sudden, the DJ played a blinder, as I sat in traffic waiting to head homewards, he played Bright Eyes by Art Garfunkel and by the end of it I was a fiery mixture of tears, snot and gunge (no regurgitated carrot).

I have no shame in admitting this, it’s a sad song, about rabbits.  I like rabbits.But it did make me think.  It joins a short list of now four records that have made me cry (to be honest it does it most times and if you don’t find it sad, you have a waxy pea sized heart), I won’t bore you with the other three  A Natural by Whipping BoyShine a Light by Spiritualized and Hurt by Johnny Cash ) but would be intrigued to know which songs make you blub, I don’t care about the reasons, unless you want to share (Group Hug, anyone?), just interested. Sniff.

(Oh and I would like to apologise for all the brackets in this piece, sorry).

S-WC

JC adds

My list extends to way beyind four, but then again lots of music can turn me into an emotional gibbering wreck – especially if I’m had too much to drink.

The most recent would have been on the occasion of the burial of my young brother a few years back.  It was the result of a car accident, it happened in the west of Ireland and the responsibility of getting the family over there from Scotland fell on my shoulders as did a few other tasks in Ireland.  I held everything together till the very last second until the first notes of the music to accompany the coffin disappearing to where the cremation would take place.  It was a piece  selected by the funeral director (the family really had no idea what would be appropriate as we had no idea what my young brother’s tastes were) and it was Time To Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli.  And ever since, I’ve never been able to hear that song without losing it…

There’s been loads of times the use of a song in a film has had me crying – most notably at the end of Control (the song being Atmosphere by Joy Division).  And which Smiths fan hasn’t at some point lost it at least once when he or she his listening to I Know It’s Over……

I’ll stop there.

ONE OF FAT BOB’S MORE UNUSUAL BIG HIT SINGLES

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There’s been something like 40 singles released by The Cure over the years of which eleven have hit the UK Top 20 and could justifiably be called a big hit.  Two of the best known are The Love Cats (1983) and In Between Days (1985) but the one single released in the period between those two was this from March 1984:-

mp3 : The Cure – The Caterpillar

It’s not an obvious hit single. It’s very unconventional and sounds in places as if it is a highly improvised and almost free-form piece of music to a lyric which in places is incredibly romantic in its imagery and at other times sounds like a childish nursery rhyme.  From recollection, it got very little in the way of daytime radio exposure but such was the popularity of The Cure at the time that it soared to #14 in the singles chart.

The b-side of the single is also a strange but brilliantly gothic  bit of music:-

mp3 : The Cure – Happy The Man

The 12″ version contained identical versions of those songs but with a bonus track which was altogether more poppy:-

mp3 : The Cure – Throw Your Foot

Enjoy!!