What’s worse ~ admitting that you don’t like the music of The Cure or that you do like the music of Gary Glitter. Hmm, I guess the latter. Neither statement is entirely apt for it’s impossible to divorce one’s horror at what GG has become (or always was) from the pop in your ears (Bolan and Slade are miles better anyway) and, I still absolutely love the first Cure album; the pink one with the fridge on it.
Following yesterday’s reappraisal of some Banshees reissues, Ashley commented that, like Siouxsie and the Bs, The Cure are another band that nobody vehemently dislikes. Nobody apart from me, that is.
It was Lovecats that did it. I absolutely hate that song and still do. Had it been a minor hit, or a flop, I think the band would have survived. I would have ignored the song, probably forgot all about it, and continued to follow their progress with mild interest. However, I heard that song everywhere I went for the next two to three years. It was the age of the video jukebox and a time when I spent a lot of my hours inside a pub. I must have heard it a thousand times. I hated it at first listen and it went downhill from there.
What did I hate about Lovecats? What do I hate about Dire Straits’ microwave ovens song? Or Eye of the Tiger? Or Born in the USA? Or UB40s version of Red Red Wine? Or several hundred others….? I suppose it’s an unquantifiable mix of elements; place and time, a certain arrogance that winds you up the wrong way, the fact it is rammed down your throat by radio, jukebox, DJ and TV, and when you do manage to escape, the bloody thing still replays endlessly in your head.
I never had too much of a problem with Robert Smith’s image. I may have thought he looked a berk, but that was because of the big hair rather than the make up. It’s not for me, but a bit of greasepaint has never put me off a record, whereas big hair often has (Bonnie Tyler, poodle rock, Sigue Sigue Sputnik). I think I just hated that dappy chorus and the plink plonky piano that accompanied it. It’s possible that a girlfriend who I’ve completely forgotten about loved the song, causing some sort of angst-ridden memory block.
I have never disowned that first album. It remains an unsoiled classic ~ but the post-Lovecats Cure never won me back. Which may be a shame and my loss for all I know. Apparently they were quite good. So today I’m going to give them a spin.
I have but two discs in my collection. Two early 7″; Primary, which dates a full year after A Forest, their first hit, and Hanging Garden, another 15 months hence, with only Charlotte Sometimes released inbetween. Before I start, I fully imagine that when I look up A Forest on youtube I shall fully enjoy it (providing it is still available). The two singles have not been spun on my deck since…maybe 1985. Both were bought ex-chart from Woolworths (ah, sweet memories), probably 49p each.
Without any further ado…It is April 1981, Primary has that big deep sonorous snare sound; the sound of 80s pop, and one that I detest. The song, however, is pretty good. Smith’s trademark whine. The guitar line is exactly the same as that in Bike Spanner, which you won’t have heard. It was a favourite in my first band The Rubberman 12 (that’s Rubberman Dozen to you!). We all thought Mike had invented that way of playing, stabbing the strings with his plectrum. Innovative. We didn’t notice that he’d copied it from this! It’s not particularly outstanding for a single. Would have made a stand-out album track. 7/10
The b-side is called Descent. I shall be playing everything twice, to ensure that my opinions are not half-baked (as if!). Well, this is an experimental number. I keep waiting for it to start, but it never does. That’s not to say it’s an unpleasant listening experience. A slowed down guitar and bass version of the a-side, with symbal splashes but without that blessed snare. 6/10
The Hanging Garden comes from their fourth album, Pornography, and is only their fourth single in just over two years since A Forest. It is now July 1982. I date everything back to A Forest, from the second album, not only because it was their breakthrough single, but it came from a different band to the mob who made the debut. Smith had developed a clearer vision of what he wanted The Cure to become and A Forest was in effect the first we heard of this reborn group. It starts with tom toms, which pound away throughout. No sign of the snare. Again, it is okay, but not a strong single. Certainly not when compared with Siouxsie’s output over the same period. 6.5/10
A live version of Killing an Arab is on the b side. This is more like it even though the drums are still too big. Recorded in Manchester, it says on the sleeve, but it doesn’t say when. I imagine it is contemporary rather than archive; it sounds like it. The single had been released three years earlier. 8/10
Right, let’s go to youtube: ha ha, A Forest would appear to be unavailable. Oh dear. A shame, I was looking forward to that. I have to make do with a live version from recent days by the look and sound of it. Yep, still a good song. I don’t like the stadium sound, but yep 8ish/10.
Let’s Go to Bed, Charlotte Sometimes, Inbetween Days all unavailable in our country. Bad show from those youtube chaps and chapesses.
Okay, live it’ll have to be. Inbetween Days sounds vaguely familiar. It seems to have been a reasonable hit, number 15 in the summer of ’85. Quite like it, not a lot, but quite. Certainly Pop with a capital P. 8/10
Okay, time for me and the cat to have our lunch. If anyone wants me to listen to the Lovecats I will ~ but some deserving charity is going to have to be bunged a decent wedge. Cats Protection League maybe?