The Cure has always been a consistently high-quality operation, and their run of great albums in the Thatcher years, starting with 1980’s Seventeen Seconds and ending with Disintegration, rivals the output of anyone during the same period. As the biggest-selling album the Cure ever put out as well as the first without significant contributions from Lol Tolhurst (album credits notwithstanding), Disintegration occupies a special place in the Cure pantheon. It’s the capstone of the Cure’s triumphant progress, one might say.
The success of Disintegration was surely in no small part due to the Cure’s extensive Prayer Tour. May, June, and most of July was devoted to Europe and Great Britain, then (after a month off) they jumped the ocean for a North American tour that started in Giants Stadium on August 20, 1989.
In this intriguing footage, which was excavated last summer, the Cure runs through sections of several key songs off of the Disintegration (“Plainsong,” “Pictures of You,” “Closedown,” “Last Dance,” “Fascination Street”) as well as “A Night Like This” off of 1985’s The Head on the Door at Bray Studios in Berkshire, England.
Press play and let the gothy goodness wash over you…...
Both retailers and customers seem to have a love/hate relationship with “Record Store Day,” a yearly promotional “holiday” celebrating the independent record store. Labels producing merchandise for the event generally release limited-edition items that are only available for a short period of time at the participating shops. Customers often complain that they cannot obtain the items they want, as they are often scalped by eBay speculators to be resold at exorbitant prices. Retailers often complain that due to the nature of the distribution of releases, they are forced to over-order with the hopes of obtaining even a handful of the most desired pieces. This often results in order-frenzies that leave stacks of unsellable merchandise filling store racks once the hype of the day is over and the online resellers have determined that some of the pieces, no matter how limited, are just not marketable. Bands and record labels complain every year that pressing plant turn-around times are slow because of the backlog of Record Store Day releases clogging the presses. These complaints often call into question the necessity of certain “RSD” releases. I remember quite a few eyebrows being raised over the 2013 RSD release of Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler in all of its 180 gram and $35 price tag glory. Had neither the label nor the smattering of people who actually bought the release, ever heard of a thrift store—ANY THRIFT STORE—where you could easily find a vintage copy of the original for a dollar?
The worst RSD releases are the ones that just seem unnecessary. The slightly less-worse-but-still-ridiculous releases are good items in dumb formats—for example the release of Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde as… A SEVEN INCH BOX SET.
The worthwhile RSD releases are the ones that unearth unreleased vault material by beloved artists or shine the vinyl light of day on music that was previously available only on CD or cassette.
This Record Store Day, April 22nd, brings a release by The Cure which is, in some ways, totally welcome and completely the kind of thing labels should be doing for RSD. It is the first-time-ever-on-vinyl release of The Cure’s Acoustic Hits, which was originally included as a CD bonus in early pressings of The Cure’s Greatest Hits disc from 2001. While this is something to be excited about for vinyl-loving Cure fans, Universal is releasing it as a PICTURE DISC (along with a separate picture disc of Greatest Hits). The problem with a picture disc is that, while an interesting novelty item for collectors, they generally suffer from terrible fidelity. Picture discs are notorious for their awful sound quality. Here was an opportunity to give Cure fans a really terrific-sounding slab of wax of a grouping of songs previously unreleased on vinyl. Unfortunately, what we are getting is a dumb gimmick piece which might look cool in a frame on the wall, but will sound fairly bad on the ol’ hi-fi. Still, if you’re a Cure collector, this will undoubtedly be a must-have. Just make sure you hit the shop early, or you’ll be hunting it down online at twice-the-price.
This charming set of Christmas ornaments does a wonderful job of letting everyone in your circle know that you love St. Nick—and that the “Nick” in question is Nick Cave. Matthew Lineham designed them, and he’s done a wonderful job of working in “obscure Christmas memories and puns,” as he put it.
Many of his “obscure” references involve network Christmas programming from many decades ago. Siouxsie Sioux is transformed into Cindy Lou Who, the little girl from Whoville in Dr. Seuss’ classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Morrissey plays the part of “Snow Mozzer” and “Heat Mozzer,” the memorable characters from the 1974 stop-motion animated Christmas TV special from Rankin/Bass, The Year Without a Santa Claus. Former Oingo Boingo frontman and soundtrack maestro Danny Elfman appears as “Elfman on the Shelfman,” a reference to the 2004 children’s book The Elf on the Shelf. Robert Smith is perched atop Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and DEVO‘s familiar energy dome is cleverly done up as a Christmas tree.
Lineham calls the set “A Very New Wave Christmas” but he has sensibly gone where the name-puns and name recognition will take him rather than obey strict genre definitions. Bowie and Cave might not be your idea of “new wave” icons but they were active in the early 1980s, at least.
You can buy the rubber die cut bendable ornaments for $10 a pop (“Mozzer” pair $15), or $50 for the entire set, a significant discount. However, due to the unexpectedly high demand, Lineham wants purchasers to be aware that any ornaments ordered today will be shipped “sometime between Dec 21st & 31st,” so don’t bank on them being available for this year’s tree—however, there’s always 2017, 2018, 2019, and beyond to think of. These seem unlikely to go out of style anytime soon.
Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke looking a bit confused about how the band ended up on German music television program ‘Musik Convoy.’
As a frequent flier on the astral plane that is the Internet I never get tired of flipping through pages upon pages of YouTube in search of footage worthy of sharing with all you Dangerous Minds music fanatics. I cannot lie, I feel like I’ve hit the motherfucking JACKPOT today when it comes to these amazing clips that are also somewhat amusingly strange. And that’s because you are about to see musical gods like Nick Cave, Killing Joke, The Damned and Billy Idol lip-synching for their very lives back in the 80s on the short-lived German music television show Musik Convoy.
Musik Convoy was only on the air for a year but during that time they managed to get quite the cast of characters to “perform” on the show including a 1984 visit by The Cure who performed “Shake Dog Shake” with a beautifully disheveled Robert Smith, his signature red lipstick and hair askew. There are so many strange moments from the collection of videos in this post I just can’t pick a favorite. Like Nick Cave pretending to belt out an emotive version of “In The Ghetto” when you know—and he knows that you know—that he’s totally faking it. Or Billy Idol literally dancing with himself for two-plus minutes while miming “Eyes Without a Face,” or Robert Smith’s distinct indifference with his strange white microphone during another of the Cure’s appearance on the show. And since I’m feeling generous I also threw in twelve-minutes of the Ramones from Musik Convoy performing in front of a mostly solem, confused looking crowd of “fans” and soldiering through four songs: “Howling at the Moon,” Mama’s Boy,” “Wart Hog,” and “Chasing the Night.” I’ve said it before, the 80s were certainly full of fantastically weird times.
Nick Cave performing ‘In the Ghetto’ on ‘Musik Convoy,’ 1984.
More lip-syncing with the bad boys, after the jump…
An early shot of The Cure (L to R: Lol Tolhurst, Michael Dempsey and Robert Smith) hanging on the railroad tracks. This photo was likely taken around 1976/1977.
I spent a fair amount of time recently pouring through nostalgic images and musical performances by The Cure while pulling my post about the band’s first show in Boston in 1980. The Internet will often reward you with great things. Such is the case with these magical photos of Robert Smith and his bandmates, some taken as early as 1976.
If my math is correct (numbers and Cherrybomb don’t go well together) Robert Smith and drummer Lol Tolhurst were just seventeen. Bassist Michael Dempsey probably bought booze for them as he was eighteen in 1976. After you let it sink in that members of The Cure were once teenagers just like all of us, I’ll ask you to come to the realization that unlike most of us they were already on a pretty clear trajectory for greatness.
When they weren’t in school together they were already busy writing songs and by 1977 were playing gigs to a fast-growing fan base. All this noise got the teenage Smith, Dempsey and Tolhurst signed to Fiction Records (run by Chris Parry who was also an early champion of The Jam and Siouxsie and the Banshees). By the time 1979 rolled around The Cure were ready to release their stellar first album Three Imaginary Boys and a couple of follow-up singles you may have heard before “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” So strap in and get ready for a trip to a time before Robert Smith’s signature electrified goth hair and lipstick was a thing and see The Cure looking more like the images from your old high school yearbook.
Michael Dempsey, Marc Ceccagno, Robert Smith, Allan Hill, and Lol Tolhurst taken sometime between 1976 and 1978.
Sadly I was too young to have had hung out at the mythical Allston, Massachusetts club “Allston Underground” back when it was open for a blink of an eye from 1980-1981. Had I been born five or six years earlier I would have been able to tell stories about seeing bands like Bauhaus, Mission of Burma, New Order and The Cure who all played a gig at The Underground during their first U.S tours.
The Cure made their way to The Underground on April 20th, 1980 mere hours before Robert Smith was about to celebrate his 21st birthday. And since you only turn 21 once Smith decided to rearrange part of the lyrics to “Seventeen Seconds” from “seventeen years/a measure in life’ to “21 years/a measure of life” which he then dedicated to Boston punks Mission of Burma with whom they were sharing the bill. When it comes to musical folklore I have to say that this little insight sent my brain off to conjure up images of what the rest of the night was like offstage for a newly legal drinking age Robert Smith on the loose with his Imaginary Boys and Mission of Burma on the streets of my beloved hometown. Another interesting twist to this story that made my day is that according to the meticulous Cure-focused site The Cure: The Multimedia Experience parts of the show were shot by a few local Boston art students. Which during my research for the story turned out to include omnipresent Boston videographer Jan Cocker. If (like me) you think this enviable story sounds like a page out of a die-hard Cure fan’s dream diary then I’m with you. And getting into a dreamy kind of mood is great preparation when it comes to the footage you’re about to see.
The videos include some editing and special effects which I actually found added another layer of mystique to this early moment and in The Cure’s long career. And for the record—Smith sounds absolutely incredible especially during the track “Secrets” from the band’s album Seventeen Seconds which was set for release the day after Smith’s birthday on April 22nd, 1980. I’m going to go out on a big fat limb here and say it’s safe to assume it was great to be Robert Smith during those three days. I’ve got footage of The Cure performing four songs at The Underground—“Grinding Halt,” “Subway Song,” “Accuracy” and “Secrets.” I highly recommend watching a few other videos shot at the show here as it includes a show-stopping version of “Killing an Arab” as it must be seen.
The Cure hanging out at the wood-paneled Boston, Massachusetts club ‘The Underground,’ April 20th, 1980.
A ticket for the April 20th, 1980 show at ‘The Underground’ in Allston, Massachusetts for The Cure and Mission of Burma.
‘Grinding Halt’ live on April 20th, 1980 at ‘The Underground’ in Allston, Massachusetts.
The cover of the 1987 single ‘Lachez les chiens!’ by French group Super Nana by artist Aslan (aka Alain Gourdon).
You may be familiar with the work of the French illustrator known as “Aslan” or Alain Gourdon. Best known for his pin-ups Aslan was a contributor to French magazine Lui starting in 1963 where he would illustrate a different, gorgeously realistic pin-up for Lui each month for nearly 20 years.
Aslan was not only an incredibly talented illustrator and painter but was also quite adept at the art of sculpture. His 1970 bust of French starlet Brigitte Bardot as “Marianne” (one of a number of female images that have been used as a symbol representing the French republic) was the first bust promoted by the Louvre Museum while the author/creator was still living. In the last thirty or so years “Marianne” has been portrayed in the image of other female French icons such as actress Catherine Deneuve model Laetitia Casta. Naturally Aslan’s bust of “Marianne” features a plunging neckline revealing a lot of eye-popping sculpted cleavage.
When it comes to Aslan’s pin-ups for Lui there aren’t very many I can show you here as they are all pretty much gorgeously done X-rated illustrations featuring full-frontal nudity (you can see them here if you’d like). That said, I’m barely going to get away with showing you Aslan’s cool album covers especially when it comes to a bootleg of a performance by The Cure in Amsterdam in 1979 (see bottom) which was apparently used without his permission. The rest—including the illustration that was used for a Joy Division bootleg called “Enigma” that was apparently sanctioned by Aslan (part of a cavalcade of unofficial Joy Division pressings from the 80s that were released following vocalist Ian Curtis’s suicide—are still about as cheeky as they come.
I’ve also included a nice selection of album covers done by Aslan for Fontana Records (an offshoot of Dutch music label Phillips) that were all part of Fontana’s Après Minuit releases that featured artists like Serge Gainsbourg, Johnny Hallyday and jazz great Chet Baker. Like I said, the images in this post, while gorgeous, are most definitely NSFW. If you’ve just become a fan of Aslan and want to see more, I highly recommend seeking out the many pulp novels with his naughty illustrations on the covers.
An illustration done by Aslan on the cover of ‘Enigma’ a Joy Division bootleg from 1980.
The Cure ‘The Spell’s Unbroken’ bootleg from a live performance from 1985 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, UK with pin-up art by Aslan.
Some of you reading this may have already had the good fortune to have seen this vintage footage of The Cure performing at the breathtaking Roman-esque theatre in Orange, Vaucluse, France known as Theatre Antique d’Orange back in 1986. I also have no doubt that some of you might even possess copies of the show (known as The Cure in Orange) on VHS. If you fall into neither of these categories, then you are in for a treat as the show recently popped up on Vimeo.
Robert Smith of The Cure debuting his new short hairdo at ‘Theatre Antique d’Orange’ in France in 1986.
Shot over the course of two nights by longtime Cure collaborator director Tim Pope, the out-of-print footage contains a staggering 23 songs from The Cure’s mid-80s catalog (like The Head on the Door) as well as 1980’s Boys Don’t Cry and 1993’s Show and other assorted gems. It was also the apparently the first time Smith debuted his new short haircut much to the dismay of his gothy followers.
Though Smith himself has promised that The Cure in Orange would be released to DVD sometime in 2010, that never happened—though you can find bootlegged copies of the show for sale out there on various music-loving Internet sites as well as copies of the original VHS tape. As in the past when this extraordinary footage has made its way online it will likely once again quickly disappear so stop what you’re doing now and watch it before it vanishes.
‘The Cure in Orange’ was filmed over the course of two days in France at Theatre Antique d’Orange in 1986.
If you ever want to know practically everything there is to know about the first four years of Siouxsie and the Banshees, then you need to get your hands on a copy of the Siouxsie and the Banshees Scrapbook 1976-1980. I can’t tell you who compiled it because that information is lost in the rock ‘n’ roll black hole, but this fanzine/scrapbook released in 1984 includes early band history, discography, a list of all known bootlegs, photos and lots and lots of press clippings. It’s a truly work of DIY fanzine art. You would think if someone had taken an effort to compile this amount of information they would at least want to put their name or names on it. According to the back cover, “they” also compiled Volume 2 1981-1984 and similar scrapbooks on The Damned, The Cure and The Stranglers.
The pre-Internet care that they took compiling the “Bootleg Recordings Known to Exist” section alone is impressive: Three pages of carefully cataloged bootleg information.
My favorite tale from the Siouxsie and the Banshees Scrapbook comes from a press clipping of an article that was published in Sounds on September 15, 1979. The setting was Aberdeen. The story starts with this…. “The geezer standing next to me in the urinal said, ‘Hey, have you hear the rumour? Two of the Banshees have run off. They’re not going to play. The bouncers are expecting a riot.’”
On September 7, 1979, the very day their second album Join Hands was released Siouxsie and the Banshees were scheduled to play a show with the Cure opening for them. Before the show, at an in store record signing, the Banshees got into some sort of argument which caused guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morris to storm off and quit. In typical punk form, when Siouxsie and Steve Severin went onstage that night to announce their bandmates disappearance—and therefore cancellation of their performance—Siouxsie encouraged the crowd to beat the shit out of the missing band members if found. The Cure came back on and played a few more songs before they invited some “special guests” to the stage. Siouxsie and Severin entered and together with the Cure, they played the Banshees’ rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.”
Before the song started Siouxsie announced:
“I hope you realize these guys know nothing about the ‘Lord’s Prayer’…It’ll probably be all the better for that. John and Kenny were doing it for the money and you can’t do a good ‘Lord’s Prayer’ with that attitude.”
Morrissey and Johnny Marr performing on the ‘The Oxford Road Show.’
A recent post that featured two-hours of “mind melting” high quality footage of Siouxsie and the Banshees performing on various music television shows such as the The Old Grey Whistle Test, Rock Goes to College, The Oxford Road Show as well as the ever popular, Top of the Pops was unsurprisingly very popular with our readers. As I was not familiar with The Oxford Road Show, I decided to take a deep-dive into YouTube land to see what other vintage delights the BBC show might have to offer. I was not disappointed—and you won’t be either.
Robert Smith of The Cure in a still from ‘The Oxford Road Show.’
Once allegedly parodied as “Nozin’ Aroun’” on “Demolition,” the pilot episode of cult British sitcom The Young Ones, The Oxford Road Show (later known as “ORS”) was around for about four years until it marched off into the sunset. While not every band performed live (as you will see with the video of The Smiths below), many of them did and early on in their emerging careers. I cherrypicked a few highlights from The Oxford Road Show that I found most compelling such as The Cure’s 1983 appearance on the show performing “One Hundred Years” from their 1982 album, Pornography and Bauhaus in 1982 doing two of their early 80s singles, “Passion of Lovers” and an absolutely balls-out performance of “Lagartija Nick.” But what really killed me was The Smiths’ lipsynching 1984’s “What Difference Does it Make” while Moz sashays around on stage looking like he wishes he was home dancing in front of his mirror while giving zero fucks. In other words, what you are about to see is pure 80s vintage goodness that once again proves that the much maligned decade was actually pretty great.
The Cure performing ‘One Hundred Days’ on ‘The Oxford Road Show’ in 1983.
Motörhead on the cover of Flexipop! magazine, June, 1981.
UK music magazine Flexipop! was only around from 1980 to1983, but in that time it managed to put out some pretty cool content within its pages, such as the sweet 7” colored flexi discs that featured music from bands featured in the mag like Motörhead, The Cure and The Jam. One flexi-disc from the February 1981 issue was a recording of Adam and the Ants riffing on the Village People anthem “Y.M.C.A.” called “A.N.T.S,” which you can listen to in all its early 80s glory (as I can’t embed it), here.
Adam Ant on the cover of Flexipop! #4.
Adam and the Ants Flexipop! flexi disc from Flexipop! #4.
Another thing that Flexipop! featured were cool “live-action” storyboards as well illustrated strips that detailed the the fictional exploits of various bands and musicians. Starting with the September 1981 issue, there was a three-part-series about the career to date of Adam Ant drawn by Mark Manning. Manning—who would go on to assume the cool-as-fuck moniker “Zodiac Mindwarp” and form the biker sleaze band Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction in the mid-80s—was Flexipop!‘s acid-dropping art editor at the time. I’ve included Manning’s “Adam and the Ants” comic strip in its entirety, as well as some scans from the magazine’s inner-pages.
Surprisingly, given its short existence, you can find lots of issues of Flexipop! out there as well as flexi discs from the magazine’s colorful discography on auction sites like eBay and Etsy. Cooler still is the fact that you can look through even more pages from Flexipop! that have been scanned and uploaded at the blog Music Mags 1970s-1980s.
Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie (The Creatures) on the cover of Flexipop! March, 1983.
Robert Smith of The Cure on the front cover of Japanese music magazine ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
I’m really into these sweet manga illustrations which were published back in the 80s in a Japanese music magazine called 8 Beat Gag. Written in Japanese, most (if not all) are likely by the the rather prolific manga artist Atsuko Shima—but she wasn’t the only artist that created the cartoons that featured popular musical acts in weird situations that Japanese youth were obsessing about.
The fantastic cartoon of Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, which may have also been published in 8 Beat Gag, did show up as a surprise insert UK pressings of the band’s last record 1984’s Two Steps From the Move. Which makes me want to hunt a copy down just so I can have one of my own. When it comes to finding copies of 8 Beat Gag, good luck. As when they do pop up (which they occasionally do), they will cost you a tidy sum. The comic featuring The Cure (where Robert Smith Inexplicably morphs into some sort of goth Yeti. Because, Japan), follows in its entirety as well as a few others featuring Siouxsie Sioux going up against Girlschool in some sort of track event involving vegetables, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Marc Bolan, Peter Murphy, Morrissey and 80s New Wavers Ultravox.
A manga cartoon about The Cure from Japanese music magazine, ‘8 Beat Gag,’ 1988.
In Spring of 1980, just as Robert Smith was about to turn 21 years old, the Cure, supporting their sophomore release Seventeen Seconds (and new single “A Forest”) made their first trip to America. They played six dates, including three in NYC at the Hurrah’s nightclub, where Chris Stein and Debbie Harry turned up to meet them.
On 10 April, The Cure went to America for the first time.
Robert: “We’d obtained cult status out there but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights - 15, 16 and 17th - at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.”
Simon: “It was done on a shoestring budget but it was lots of fun. Instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”
Robert: “It was like a holiday. Even at this point, everything we did, we didn’t think we’d be doing again so we used to go to bed at about five in the morning and get up again at eight just to go out and see New York.”
On his return, Robert told Record Mirror how America meant “being bombarded by people who all ask the same questions and all want to shake your hand . . . you just find yourself getting sucked into the whole rock ‘n’ roll trip which we’re trying so hard to get away from” while Sounds’ Phil Sutcliffe, who’d accompanied the band to New York. told, in an article “Somebody Get Me A Doctor,” how Robert had done his utmost to avoid having his picture taken with Debbie Harry.
Although these two videos from one of the nights at Hurrah’s were posted by the creators, Charles Libin & Paul Cameron, ASC, a few years back, they’ve had precious few plays. If only all shot from the audience videos of the punk/post-punk and new wave era were done this well.
“A Forest” was the set closer, while “Secrets” was the first encore, played next.
Need a last-minute, inexpensive holiday gift for that hard-to-please friend? Okay, I believe I’ve got you covered with these amusing mash-up t-shirts by Wear Dinner. They’re pretty funny and each one sells for $25.00 + shipping. Not too shabby, in my opinion
In a 2013 post about The Cure, I wrote that I was in attendance at one of the 1984 Hammersmith Odeon shows recorded for their live Concert album, and that I felt like this was the perfect time to have seen the group, with a high watermark setlist that harkened back to their earliest days through to the lighter poppier sound that began emerging after the existential wallop of their Pornography album. I was promptly disabused of that notion in the comments and on Facebook with a near unanimous opinion emerging that the Pornography tour was—no arguing—the very best tour they ever did.
I think “they” might be right. Exhibit the first, this 30-minute live set taped for French television’s L’Echo Des Bananes program in 1982, in a Paris recording studio with no audience. When I saw them, they were a five-piece and super slick, with a great light show and amazing projections. Here they’re a seemingly nuclear-powered three member unit who require none of the showbiz frills to deliver the thrills and it’s… outrageously good stuff.
Listening to the Pornography album some thirty plus years after it first came out, well, it’s still one of the most brutal and raw listening experiences one can possibly have. I wouldn’t classify myself as a Cure fanatic, but this album I rate an absolute psychedelic mindfuck masterpiece. It’s a great album to listen to on acid (guilty, many times over) and the band themselves have admitted to ingesting quite a lot of LSD (and booze) during its recording. Imagine the state of mind that you’d have to put yourself in to make music like this!. The album art is apt, it’s like they’re playing through flames.
What may also have contributed to the blistering intensity of the 1982 tour—never mind the blunt force power of the material from Pornography—is what was apparently quite intense hatred that had developed between bandleader Robert Smith and bass guitarist Simon Gallup, who promptly quit after the tour’s completion. In fact, then-drummer Lol Tolhurst found that his two partners had both split back to England as a result of a fistfight backstage after a concert in Strasbourg, before Smith’s dad set his son straight, scolding him to get back out on tour because “People have bought tickets!” Two weeks later, after a final concert in Brussels, the three imaginary boys were no more.