The Cure is one of those bands that an outsider teenager discovers and just has to love! They sing of love and desire, repulsion, being shattered, death, angels, kisses, hate, wonder, spite, wildness, wantonness, the sky, the sea, gardens, heaven, and the wind. They sing of strangeness, longing, crying, glorifying, being glad, being outraged, death and good-byes, discovery and hope. What they cover in their songs is not trite. And they do it in a way that is gothic and dark, but also at times playful and light.
I came to know this band in high school, but really loved them during college. I remember hanging around a group of people who worked at the college radio station and going to parties in the seacoast town of Dover and The Cure being on. Whenever I hear their song "Hot, Hot, Hot" it reminds me of a first date I had around that time. The song was on the radio, and we were singing it later when we walked in the streets. Makes me think of that guy to this day!
Robert Smith had a distinctive look that no one else was sporting. A mess of tall black hair that looked like as if he just rolled out of bed and slept on only one side of his head, black clothes, black eyeliner, pasty skin and smeared red lipstick. When I was very little, one of my favorite books was "The Best Loved Doll" by Elliot Gilbert (1962). In it this doll, Jennifer’s hair is all askew, she’s all banged up and faded, and her dress is all pale and rumpled, but her owner decides that out of all the dolls she owns she wants to bring Jennifer to this doll party for little girls. Jennifer ends up winning a medal for "Best Loved Doll" at the party. Well, Robert Smith totally reminds me of Jennifer, The Best Loved Doll.
I’ve seen a ton of concerts in my lifetime, but The Cure is one band…to this day that I have never seen perform live. I remember being home from college, and being really excited because MTV was going to be airing a live concert of The Cure playing "Live at L’Orange" (France). I waited all week for the concert to air, and even stayed in on a weekend night to watch it, and I couldn’t believe how dull and boring the band turned out to be during the show. They stood very still and boring while delivering their songs. With so much going on in their lyrics, I guess I was flummoxed that and totally surprised that not much went on in their show. I think the "Live at L’Orange" show really tainted my view of what seeing them live might be like. I’m not sure if L’Orange was just a dud, and I am really missing out on something. Perhaps I will see them live one day yet, and find out.
The Cure was formed in Crawley, Sussex England (a suburb of London) in 1976. Robert Smith grew up in working class Crawley and remembers his childhood as difficult. While in Middle School Smith (on piano) formed a band called The Obelisk with childhood friends Laurence Tolhurst (drums), Michael Dempsy (guitar), Marc Ceccagno (lead guitar), and Adam Hill (bass) for a one-time performance. In 1976 Ceccagno (on lead guitar) formed a more serious band called Malice with Smith (this time on guitar), Dempsy (now on bass), and two of his other classmates at St. Wilfrid’s Catholic Comprehensive School. Ceccagno left the band to pursue playing jazz-rock fusion in the band Amulet. By this time, punk had emerged and Malice’s remaining members had become very interested in this new type of music. In January 1977 they changed the band name to Easy Cure. Their old classmate Tolhurst, and Porl Thompson (lead guitar) joined Smith and Dempsy. They auditioned several singers, but finally decided to just let Smith take on the role of lead singer.
In 1977 German record label, Hansa Records had a talent contest. Easy Cure won and received a recording contract. They recorded tracks, but they were never released. Hansa apparently thought they could mold the teenagers and make them sing cover songs, but the boys refused. By March 1978 the contract with Hansa Records was negated. Thompson left the band. Smith, Dempsy, and Tolhurst soldiered on, now calling themselves The Cure.
The Cure recorded a demo tape at Chestnut Studios in Sussex and sent it out to numerous major record labels. Polydor bit, and signed the band to its Fiction record label in September 1978. The band released their first single in December, "Killing an Arab". The song got them noticed, and garnered some controversy. Because of the title, some thought the song was racist, but it was actually based on the novel, "The Stranger" by French existentialist Albert Camus. When more singles were pressed the band placed a sticker on them denying any racist connotations.
The Cure released their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, in May 1979. The band did was not pleased with the recording and found it to be a bit lightweight. They released the single "Boys Don’t Cry" in June, and embarked on a tour as the opening band for Siouxsie and the Banshees tour of England, Ireland and Wales from August – October.
When Siouxsie’s guitarist, John McKay, suddenly quit the band, Smith was recruited to stand in on guitar for them on the rest of the tour. In "The Siouxsie & The Banshees Authorized Biography" by Mark Paytress, Robert Smith described the experience of playing on stage with Siouxsie as follows, "On stage that first night with the Banshees, I was blown away by how powerful I felt playing that kind of music. It was so different to what we were doing with The Cure. Before that, I’d wanted us to be like The Buzzcocks or Elvis Costello, the punk Beatles. Being a Banshee really changed my attitude to what I was doing." In October 1979 another Cure single was released "Jumping Someone Else’s Train". Dempsy was not pleased with the new material Smith was writing for The Cure, so he left the band and joined The Associates, another band on the Fiction record label. Simon Gallup (bass), and Matthieu Hartley (keyboards) joined The Cure. In November and December The Associates actually ended up touring in support of The Cure and another band The Passions.
Smith wanted to make The Cure’s second album much better and more substantiative than their debut album, so he tried to maintain much more control over it and was a co-producer. Seventeen Seconds was released in 1980. It reached #20 on the U.K. charts and the single, "The Forest" became their first U.K. Top 40 hit reaching #31 on the charts. That same year (1980) their debut album was repackaged and renamed Boys Don’t Cry for release in the United States. The Cure set out on a world tour in support of both albums. At the end of the tour, Hartley left the band because he was not partial to the morose tone the music was taking.
Their third album, Faith was released in 1981 and charted at #14 on the U.K. Charts. The Cure also released a single that was recorded outside the album called "Charlotte Sometimes". Smith was totally serious about the more somber direction the music was taken, often refusing to play older songs on stage, and even becoming so absorbed in the music that he was leaving the stage in tears. He has stated that he always considered his music a catharsis and a therapy.
Smith was under a lot of mental stress due to the simple pressures of growing up when their album Pornography was released in 1982. The album was very death-focused and nihilistic. The Cure released "The Hanging Garden" as a single and went on tour in support of the album (which became their first Top 10 album in the U.K.). It was during this tour that Smith adopted his trademark look of tall messy hair and smeared red lipstick. There were incidents that led to Simon Gallup leaving the band. He and Smith did not talk to each other for 18 months. Smith looked back on that time and has stated in a Spin magazine article that he was a pretty monstrous person during this time.
For most of 1983-1984 Smith was a full time member of Siouxsie and the Banshees. He played on their live Nocturne album and their Hyaena album. He also formed a side project called The Glove with Siouxsie drummer, Steve Severin. They Glove released one album, Blue Sunshine. At the same time, The Cure, now a duo consisting of Smith and Tolhurst (who was now playing keyboards instead of drums) released an album intended for the Japanese market only titled Japanese Whispers containing the songs "Let’s Go to Bed", "The Walk" and "The Lovecats", but their record company decided to release it worldwide
When Smith turned his full focus back to The Cure again, their musical direction changed from minimal punk-tinged pop to a more lush, moody, and at times what some might call dirge-like music. Their next album, 1984’s The Top was actually considered quite psychedelic. Smith played all of the instruments (except drums and saxophone) on the album. The album was another Top 10 in the U.K., and finally broke the Top 100 in the United States. The band again went on a worldwide tour with a rotating cast of member. A roadie on the tour got Smith and Gallup talking again, and the two reconciled. Gallup rejoined, so did Porl Thompson and there was a new drummer, Boris Williams along with Smith and Tolhurst rounding out the band.
Their next album The Head on the Door, was released in 1985 and contained a mix of both optimistic and pessimistic songs. The album reached #7 in the U.K., and #59 in the United States. Two singles from the album, "In Between Days" and "Close to Me" became smash international hits. There was another world tour.
Next the band released a compilation album Standing on a Beach (in 3 different formats each with a different name and different track listings). The singles "Boys Don’t Cry", "Let’s Go to Bed" and "Charlotte Sometimes" were re-released. The band also released a videotape and laser disc format containing music videos for each song on the album and called it Staring at the Sea. They toured in support of the compilation album. They also released a live videotape of one of the shows on the tour that was filmed in the south of France called The Cure in Orange. The band was now very popular in Europe and had a long history of hitmaking there, but had remained a cult-status band in the United States until this compilation album hit the scene. From there they gained steam in the U.S. and this album reached the Top 50 there.
The Cure released a double album in 1987 called "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me" which spawned the hits "Why Can’t I Be You", "Just Like Heaven", "Hot, Hot, Hot!!!". It was a smash album reaching the Top 10 in many European countries and the first of their albums to enter the Top 40 in the United States. "Just Like Heaven" became their biggest single to date in the U.S. and cracked the Billboard Top 40.
In 1989 they released their next album Disintegration. It entered the U.K. charts at #3 and reached #12 in the U.S. It spawned a series of hits including "Fascination Street", "Lullaby", "Lovesong" and "Pictures of You" . "Lovesong" reached #2 on the mainstream American pop charts becoming the only Cure song to reach the US Top 10.
By this time Tolhurst had developed an alcohol problem, and the band gave Smith an ultimatum that either Tolhurst would have to go, or else the rest of the band would quit. In 1989 Tolhurst’s departure was announced. Roger O’Donnell joined in his place. Smith was now the only remaining founding member in the band. The band embarked on a tour, and for the first time The Cure were playing stadiums in the United States. They also performed "Just Like Heaven" at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California.
O’Donnell was short-lived and by May 1990 he quit the band and was replaced by one of the band’s guitar technicians, Perry Bamonte. In November the band released a collection of remixes called Mixed Up. It did not do very well. "Never Enough" was released as a single.
1994’s album, Wish reached #1 in the U.K. and #2 in the U.S. (their most successful album on the U.S. charts) spawning the upbeat hit, "Friday, I’m in Love". The band toured in support of the album and filmed the tour calling it "Show" and released a live album by the same name. The culled more footage into another film entitled "Paris" that was released in 1993.
The band’s line-up went through another big transition and by 1994 only Smith and Bamonte remained, later joined by Gallup after recovering from some health issues, and O’Donnell again. The band recorded the song "Burn" for the 1994 movie The Crow, as well as the theme song, "Dredd Song" for the 1995 Sylvester Stalone movie Judge Dredd.
Wild Mood Swings
With the poor performances of both Wild Mood Swings and Galore Smith feared The Cure might be close to the end. The Cure had one more album they were obligated to record under their record contract, Smith set out to make a serious Cure album and came out with Bloodflowers in 2000 (it was supposed to be the third in a trilogy of albums that included Pornography and Disintegration). The band embarked on a 9-month worldwide tour. The album was critically well received and was nominated for a Grammy Award.
In 2001 The Cure released a Greatest Hits compilation and DVD. In 2002 they headlined twelve major summer music festivals and performed three concerts in Europe (2 in Berlin and 1 in Brussels) in which they played songs from the trilogy albums: Pornography, Disintegration, and Bloodflowers. They played the songs from each album in the trilogy in their entirety each night. The Berlin performances were released on DVD in 2003 as The Cure: Trilogy.
2004 saw the band releasing a box set, Join the Dots: B-Sides and Rarities, 1978 – 2001 (The Fiction Years). They also released a new album, The Cure, that same year. It debuted in the Top Ten both in Europe and the U.S. in July 2004. In July and August the band headlined the famed Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California to promote the album, and then embarked as a headliner on another North American music festival, Curiosa. In 2004 MTV also presented The Cure with an MTV Icon award.
In 2006 the band began writing material for their 13th studio album. It was released in 2008: 4:13 Dream. There have been hints that part two of 4:13 Dream may one day be released on iTunes.
The Cure was announced as a nominee for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. The Cure’s legacy is as one of the first alternative bands to gain commercial success and break out of their underground status well before alternative music became accepted in the mainstream. The band Interpol has expressed how much The Cure was an influence on everyone in the band. was released in 1996 and earned mostly negative reviews. "The 13th" was the highest charting single at #44. Another greatest hits compilation, Galore, was released in 1997. It was the end of their commercial peak. In 1998 The Cure recorded a song for the soundtrack of the X Files movie called "More Than This", and contributed a cover of the song "World in My Eyes" to a Depeche Mode tribute album called For the Masses.
Show me, show me show mehow you do that trick
The one that makes me scream
The one that makes me laugh
and threw her arms around my neck
Show me how you do it
and i promise you
I promise that
I'll run away with youI'll run away with you
Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed her face and kissed her head
and dreamed of all the different ways I had
to make her glow
Why are you so far away?
and won't you ever know that i'm in love with you?
That i'm in love with you?
YouSoft and only
Lost and lonely
Strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You're just like a dream...
You're just like a dream...
Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
and moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
and found myself alone, alone, alone
above a raging sea
that stole the only girl I loved
and drowned her deep inside of me
Soft and only
YouLost and lonely
Just like heaven