In mid-1979, Robert Smith, the singer-guitarist-leader of the Cure, started hanging out with Simon Gallup, bassist for the Magazine Spies. The pair got together every Saturday night at a pub in the English town of Horley to beer it up. It was during one of those evenings of inebriation that the idea of making a record with “Frank the Postman”—a local mail carrier—came to be.
Full-figured postman Frank Bell was one of Horley’s stranger legends. When not stuffing letter boxes he was often hanging out with the local wrecking crew, decked out in a t-shirt that proclaimed: “I’m a Cult Hero.” Robert Smith had met him and was taken by his bold personality. Smith was convinced that the mailman had all the makings of stardom. When Bell’s name was mentioned in the pub one night, Smith had a brainwave: “I thought, ‘Get him in the studio and write a disco song.’”(from Never Enough: The Story of The Cure)
For the Cult Hero recording session, Smith, Gallup and Bell were joined by the Cure’s drummer, Lol Tolhurst, and Magazine Spies keyboardist, Mattieu Hartley; former and future member of the Cure, Porl Thompson; as well as the pre-teen duo, the Obtainers, who Smith had recently produced. Smith’s two sisters and a selection of Horley residents also took part. The Cure’s bass player, Michael Dempsey, who just happened to be on holiday at the time of the session, later added synth. By this time, Smith had begun to weigh his options regarding Dempsey, as the two had a chilly relationship and Smith couldn’t stand the thought of going on another tour with him.
The Cult Hero 45, “I’m a Cult Hero” b/w “I Dig You,” was released in December 1979 on the Cure’s UK label, Fiction Records. The A-side is post-punk bliss, with Bell essentially talking his way through the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, while the B-side is a playful hybrid of disco and punk, with amusingly vapid words, again coming from the mouth of Bell. The single appeared on different labels in a couple of other countries; the Canadian issue on Modulation Records actually became a hit, selling 35,000 copies in the Great White North.
More more after the jump…