Record Review: The Cure – The Head On The Door GER CD [part 1]

Fiction Records ‎| UK | CD | 1985 | 827 231-2

The Cure: The Head On The Door GER CD [1985]

  1. In Between Days
  2. Kyoto Song
  3. The Blood
  4. Six Different Ways
  5. Push
  6. The Baby Screams
  7. Close To Me
  8. A Night Like This
  9. Screw
  10. Sinking

I cannot believe that in nearly 2000 posts I have never written about The Cure! It’s not that I dislike them. Or even discount them due to their popularity. No, I’m thrilled that they have survived to become a venerable and beloved band that went straight from Post-Punk to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame®. All without a hint of crassness [as far as I know]. It’s probably down to the band having moved in a direction that was less than thrilling to me about 25 years ago that I tend to not think of them too often these days, but when they dropped their seventh studio album in only six years, I was at the right place at the right time to really appreciate them.

I’d first heard The Cure back in 1980 when they were on the soundtrack to the stillborn, New Wave exploitation film “Times Square.” The 2xLP OST album had enough vital tracks by artists I liked [XTC, Lou Reed] among the filler tracks that the characters performed in the film [which I’ve never seen] that I picked up one of the widely available cutouts as the thing was deleted almost immediately. The Cure had one song on there; “Grinding Halt” from their debut album, “Three Imaginary Boys.” Which I still have yet to hear 40 years later. “Grinding Halt” was pretty good, but I heard nothing between that point and 1982 when “Let’s Go To Bed” made initial inroads on MTV when we got cable TV in 1982. I next saw clips for “The Walk” and “Lovecats” and when the monthly MTV program London Calling showed an interview with video director Tim Pope and played the clip for “Inbetween Days,” I was primed to buy! In the heady days of 1985, that meant waiting for the import CD [at least $15.00 @ Peaches!] to shop up in the bins. I recall waiting several months as was the custom at that time.

“Inbetween Days” was really a lost opportunity. I think of everything that I like as being “pop” even though most of the music I treasured was not “popular.” I guess I find “pop music” to be a qualitative notion rather than a literal one, but this song was clearly written to blast out of radios with its surplus of positive energy in direct defiance to the rather miserable lyrics. Of course, little is so beguiling than bands that juxtapose happy music against somber lyrics! The sound here was made to go top 10 if there was any justice in the world [hint: there isn’t]. The expert drumming by Boris Williams propelled this album capably through its entirety with perfectly executed fills in just the right places.

The acoustic rhythm guitar in this song was the closest thing to a leitmotif for the entire, eclectic album. The song leaned heavily on it for the expansive intro that took up nearly a third of the song’s brief, 3:00 running time. The simple string synths that played the melancholic melody were perfectly balanced between the other elements of the song. The production by Robert Smith and Martin Rushent’s right-hand mad Dave Allen [not the gent in Gang of Four/Shriekback, by the way…] was perfect to capture the complexity of what the band was putting down with clarity and focus.

The whole thing ended up sounding like the best song that New Order had never recorded. I swear that it would have charted better had the intro not been a third the length of the song, but the buildup was so delightful, I completely understand the decision to let it play out to its strengths; the time taken be damned. Thsi was simply a single of the highest order of accomplishment. And buyers of the UK 12″ single were gifted with the two best songs The Cure have ever recorded, for what it’s worth to my ears.

Next: …Building A Classic, Track By Track

About postpunkmonk

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13 Responses to Record Review: The Cure – The Head On The Door GER CD [part 1]

  1. Steve Shafer says:

    Back in 1985, I couldn’t get enough of this album!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jon Chaisson says:

    I’ve seen Times Square a few times, it’s quite bonkers but a lot of fun, and Tim Curry is fantastic as always. Apparently the unreleased and unedited version is more of a lesbian romance! Great soundtrack, though.

    As for THoTD, it’s one of my favorites of theirs but it’s too blessed short! It could have done with at least three or four more songs, really.

    Like

  3. Echorich says:

    In 1985, a band didn’t need to front load their album with the best track on the album. There wasn’t that ennui, that the music buying public has 35 years later, to worry record companies about the success of an album.
    I love In Between Days, it masterfully ties up the “ditties” period of The Cure that included, Let’s Go To Bed, Love Cats and The Walk. And while taking a detour for the release of The Top, an album that I always saw as a reaction to the “fun” The Cure was beginning to have, they found a way to incorporate Pop into their sound in a way that would reap so many rewards in the future.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Also, in 1985, the CD was not the ultimate point of distribution for an album, so the idea of ten songs at 40 minutes kept this album fighting trim! I could not say that for the subsequent Cure albums.

      Like

  4. Taffy says:

    Ah, my fave Cure studio album. I love their excursions into New Order-ish sounds (The Walk, as well as Inbetween Days) and when the goth goes lighter, poppier and less ponderous. My first time seeing them was on the Head On The Door tour, and that show remains a concert-going highlight.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – Wow! You were lucky. It took them until the relatively boring “Wish” album until they plowed their way into Central Florida, but I will say that the setlist was still awesome. I’ve seen The Cure twice and they are of a piece with Bryan Ferry for crafting a very satisfying setlist and giving a great show. There is no “bad time” to see The Cure. I think that any show would delight.

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      • Taffy says:

        True – I saw them just a year or two ago and they played a massive 3+ hour set which somehow never flagged in energy or intensity. I was nervous, hearing about these Grateful Dead-esque patience-testing Cure shows, but I’m not sure I ever looked at my phone to check the time. Nonetheless, the tight concert I attended in 1985 was a peak experience.

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  5. jsd says:

    “The whole thing ended up sounding like the best song that New Order had never recorded.” – New Order kinda sorta did record it a few years later tho. Check out the track “All The Way” on Technique, it sounds exactly like In Between Days.

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