Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Cure On 45


When you have been a fan of a band for years, but don’t necessarily play their records day in day out, it becomes easy to forget on which format you first owned a particular song. I have seen The Cure a few times over the years, and as soon as the (lengthy) encore has approached, you pretty much expect “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Killing An Arab”. And yet, it is easy to overlook the fact that, in the UK at least, neither of these songs appeared on a Cure studio LP. Both were actually issued in the band’s homeland as stand alone 7” singles.

With the physical single now only being used by record companies who have on their books either the sort of act whose fans will buy anything on any format, or bands of an “Indie” persuasion who love the 7“ single in a retro-style fashion, I am becoming increasingly fascinated by these old “non album” 45’s, especially as very few are being made in physical form nowadays. So I thought it would be worth looking at The Cure’s UK Singles Discography, shining the spotlight specifically on those stand alone singles, and the various compilation albums that later collected them all up - apart from one.

Boys Don't Cry

The band released their debut 7”, “Killing An Arab”, on the Small Wonder label in late 1978, before re-issuing the single early the next year on Fiction, the label the band would remain signed to for nearly 25 years. Indeed, during those 25 years, The Cure seemed to be the ONLY band signed to the label. The b-side, “10.15 Saturday Night”, was included on the band’s debut UK LP “Three Imaginary Boys”. I have always thought that this 7” was a AA-side release, on the account that a video for “10.15” exists, but the latter was actually issued as a single in it’s own right in France, with a b-side also taken from the album, which explains my confusion. Nonetheless, the band have regularly performed both songs during their live shows, often back to back. By the end of 79, the band had released two more stand alone 45’s, “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train”. The b-sides on both these releases were also new and exclusive recordings, not to be found on “Three Imaginary Boys”.

In my Rolling Stones in the 60’s blog, I referred to how US record labels would often drastically alter a UK album for the Stateside market. To be honest, it’s a situation which has never quite gone away, and in the USA, the band’s debut LP, released in 1980, was titled “Boys Don’t Cry”. It included the three singles, plus the b-side of “Boys Don’t Cry”, “Plastic Passion”. Eight numbers from “Three Imaginary Boys” were included, along with a new song, “World War”. The album also got a release in the UK, as the band’s UK label figured that the public would be interested in a Cure album that housed the three 45’s issued up to that date.

Despite the fact that “Boys Don’t Cry” was not really a proper Cure LP, this did not prevent Fiction from releasing it on CD later on during the 80’s. However, the reissue differed from the LP and Cassette originals, most notably by removing “World War” from the set entirely, apparently because Robert Smith thought it was rubbish. This may explain why it was never on “Three Imaginary Boys” in the first place, and is now one of the hardest-to-find Cure recordings.

Charlotte Sometimes & Japanese Whispers

After a couple of albums and a single from each to help sell the accompanying product, The Cure’s next stand alone single was 1981’s monumental “Charlotte Sometimes”, probably their finest record ever. By now, the band had started to release singles on the new fangled 12”, and “Charlotte” dutifully appeared on the format. The b-side of the 7” edition of the single, “Splintered In Her Head”, appeared on side 1 of the 12” with the a-side, whilst the entire second side of the vinyl was taken up by a live version of “Faith”, the title track of their latest LP. This rarity is now on the expanded “Faith” Double-CD, reissued in 2005.

By the time the band had finished touring their next studio LP, 1982’s “Pornography”, the group were at breaking point. Drink, drugs, having toured a relentlessly gloomy record, it was all too much and the band went on hiatus. Smith joined Siouxsie And The Banshees, but when asked if The Cure had split up, he wasn’t actually too sure himself.

Smith did re-ignite the band before the end of 1982, although by now, the band consisted of just Smith and Keyboard Player Lol Tolhurst. Possibly due to the fact that they were now some sort of Synth-Pop duo, the band began heading off in a more pop/electronic direction, although they managed to get a drummer in to help record the two songs that would appear on their next single. “Let’s Go To Bed” was a reasonable hit, but sounded unlike anything the band had ever done before. Smith later claimed he had wished this song had been the b-side instead, and that the other song, “Just One Kiss“, had been the A-side. As well as being issued as a 7”, a 12” was also released which featured extended mixes of both sides of the single.

1983’s “The Walk” was a bigger chart hit, and was full blown synth-pop, with Smith and Tolhurst playing everything on the record. The format of choice was the 12”, which included three additional extra tracks, although rather strangely, “The Walk” appeared on side 2 of the single, and not side 1. In some overseas territories, the band released a mini album also titled “The Walk”, using the same cover. This release included all four songs from the 12”, “Just One Kiss” and the extended mix of “Let’s Go To Bed”.

By the end of the year, The Cure had expanded into a fully blown “proper” band again, a line up which would more or less be the group that recorded the next LP, 1984’s “The Top” (sort of). Another stand alone single surfaced in late 83, the jazzy genius-pop that was “The Lovecats”, issued on both 7” and 12” with different mixes of the track on each format. Despite sounding a million miles away from the likes of “Killing An Arab” or “Charlotte Sometimes”, “The Lovecats” was further proof that The Cure could “do pop” whenever they wanted, and would do so again and again in later years on the likes of “Why Can’t I Be You” and “Friday I’m In Love”.

Before the end of the year, Smith was asked to compile a Japanese only Mini Album, mainly due to the fact that the band had recorded an albums’ worth of material since “Pornography”, but without issuing an actual album. The world of the Japanese Mini Album is a fascinating one, and there are thousands of these releases in existence, used as a tool to house non-album material. Of the nine new songs released on the previous three singles, eight of the songs were to be included on the album - “Mr Pink Eyes”, from the “Lovecats” 12” was not be included, for whatever reason.

Repetition was out - so you only got the 7” mixes of “Let’s Got To Bed”, “The Lovcats” and “Just One Kiss”, and not the 12” versions. By the time the release was ready to go, Fiction decided that maybe the LP would be of interest to UK fans as well, and the album got a full blown release in the UK and other countries. The material has since eeked out on other releases, and when the band’s back catalogue was reissued in the mid-noughties, “Japanese Whispers” was ignored and is now out of print.

Standing On A Beach, etc.

By 1986, The Cure had released enough singles to warrant the release of a “Greatest Hits” collection, and in May of that year, the band’s first career spanning collection hit the shelves. Issued on a variety of different formats, with at times different titles, “Standing On A Beach” (the standard title) offered a fairly straight run through of the band’s UK 45’s in chronological order.

The vinyl edition offered the basic “Cure on 45” set, using - where they existed - the 7” versions of the singles. The only exception was “A Forest”, which used a hybrid mix of the edited 7” mix and the full length LP version. The CD edition, titled “Staring At The Sea”, added a number of bonus album tracks, thereby taking advantage of the additional playing time the format offered, although one such bonus was “A Night Like This”, which did turn up on the A-side of a US only EP “Quadpuss”, with a promo video being made as well.

The most important format though was the Cassette. With another variant title, “Standing On A Beach - The Singles And Unavailable B-Sides”, this format took advantage of the extended playing time cassettes could offer over CD. On side 1, you got the basic 12 track vinyl edition, whilst Side 2 included all of the band’s studio B-sides that had not made the “Boys Don’t Cry” or “Japanese Whispers” collections - hence the “unavailable” tag. Live B-sides of “normal” songs were not included, so the live versions of things like “Faith” were still only available on the original singles, and the 12” mix of “Just One Kiss” was still AWOL. This was not the first time The Cure had offered additional material on Cassette - I shall look at the band’s live and studio LP’s in greater depth in the future.

To tie in with the album, a new version of “Boys Don’t Cry” was issued as a single. Dubbed the “New Voice” mix, it featured a new Smith vocal over the original backing track. An extended remix adorned the 12” edition of the single, but neither mix made the album. Indeed, if we treat this release as a separate one to the 1979 original, then this to date remains the only stand alone Cure 45 that has not appeared again on a Cure compilation album.

Never Enough onwards

By the end of the 80’s, The Cure had more or less gotten out of the habit of releasing non-album singles, but would every so often go down that other route - recording a new song for a collection, and then releasing the track as a single in it’s own right. First up was 1990’s “Never Enough”. Included in remixed form on the band’s remix LP “Mixed Up”, the bog standard single offered the original “standard” recording of the track, although the remix turned up on the 12” format instead of the regular mix. A second single from “Mixed Up” appeared before the end of the year, as the remixed version of “Close To Me” was issued soon after. Some formats featured a remix of the remix on the a-side as well!

In 1997, the band issued “Galore”, a follow up compilation to “Standing On A Beach”, which covered the years from 1987 to 1997. Again, a thorough run through of the hits in order, the set included a new song, “Wrong Number”, at the end of the album, which was also issued as a single to coincide. Although the single appeared on several editions, it was the 12” and CD formats that offered the most interest, as they both included exclusive remixes of the track.

“Galore” seemed to mark the end of The Cure as left field chart bothering stars. The likes of Radio 1 began to ignore them for being “too old”, and even the record label seemed to decide that releasing singles was a bit pointless, as not a single 45 was taken from the next studio LP, 2000’s “Bloodflowers”. With the band contracted to release one more album for Fiction, 2001 saw the release of “Greatest Hits” - the title says it all. Trying to condense “Standing On A Beach” and “Galore” into a single CD was never going to be easy, and it wasn’t - the set concentrated quite heavily on material post-1982, with the likes of “Primary” and “Charlotte Sometimes” being ignored. Sacrilege. In an attempt to get people to shell out their hard earned cash for what was a bit of a shabby album, initial pressings featured a free bonus acoustic album, consisting of entirely new recordings of the old hits.

Not one but two new songs appeared on the album, one of which, “Cut Here”, was issued a single to help plug the LP. Although the single and album were the official signing off of the band from Fiction, there was in fact another release on the label, with 2004’s 4-CD Box Set “Join The Dots”. Primarily billed as a B-side collection, a sizeable chunk of unreleased material and other rarities were used to pad out the set. Every “proper” b-side the band had done made the set, but the choice of remixes that were included were slightly random. Several tracks from 1996’s “Wild Mood Swings” had been remixed to be used as b-sides for the 1997 single “Gone”, but only one of them made the box. Repetition, sometimes, was out - you got three different versions of the band’s cover of “Hello I Love You”, but the 12” mixes of “Just One Kiss” (again) and “A Japanese Dream” were absent. Still, it’s a decent set, even if the decision to fill up most of CD4 with alternate versions of album tracks seems a bit lazy.

Although there were rumours the band would throw in the towel back in 2001, 2004 also saw the group sign to Geffen and release a self titled studio album which spawned several singles. Another studio album, 2008’s “4.13 Dream”, saw the band release no less than four singles from the album - each single referred to the a-side as appearing in it’s “Mix 13” form, although I think they are the same mixes as featured on the album anyway, so not sure what all that is about. I assume each song was mixed 13 times and this was the final mix? Maybe??


Discography

I have listed below the bulk of the Cure’s UK singles discography. What I have not included are any singles that when released only offered material on album or the formats listed below, and thus no exclusive material - so several 2-track 7” singles are therefore omitted from the list, for example. Coloured Vinyl and Picture Disc editions are only listed where they include items of notable musical interest.

A number of Cure singles were issued on different “extended play” formats, but with identical track listings. For the most part, the formats listed below for such releases are from my own collection, and the other formats are mentioned in passing where relevant. Anything that does happen to be missing from the list, AFAIK, will provide you with nothing not already listed here.

For the ease of use, I have also listed the singles - for those issued on more than one format - that when first released did offer unique material, but which have in recent years, dipped in interest due to the “Japanese Whispers” and “Join The Dots” releases, which have made these rarities available again. I have detailed some of the singles which are thus ’affected’ and whose interest, in my view, is now to completists only. I have also omitted the mail order only EP releases and things like the “LaMent” flexi discs, as this would be worthy of a separate article.

Killing An Arab/10.15 Saturday Night (7”, Fiction FICS 001)
Boys Don’t Cry/Plastic Passion (7”, Fiction FICS 002)
Jumping Someone Else’s Train/I’m Cold (7”, Fiction FICS 005)
A Forest (7” Edit)/Another Journey By Train (7”, Fiction FICS 010)
Primary (12” Version)/Descent (12”, Fiction FICSX 12)
Charlotte Sometimes/Splintered In Her Head/Faith (Live) (12”, Fiction FICSX 14)
The Hanging Garden/One Hundred Years/A Forest (Live In Manchester)/Killing An Arab (Live In Manchester) (2x7”, Fiction FICG 15)
Let’s Go To Bed/Just One Kiss (7”, Fiction FICS 17, both songs included on “Japanese Whispers“)
Let’s Go To Bed (Extended Mix)/Just One Kiss (Extended Mix) (12”, Fiction FICSX 17)
The Walk/The Dream (7” Picture Disc, Fiction FICSP 18, also available as standard black vinyl 7”)
The Upstairs Room/The Dream/The Walk/La Ment (12”, Fiction FICSX 18)
The Lovecats/Speak My Language (7” Picture Disc, Fiction FICSP 19, also available as standard black vinyl 7”, but both tracks on “Japanese Whispers”)
The Lovecats (Extended Version)/Speak My Language/Mr Pink Eyes (12”, Fiction FICSX 19)
The Caterpillar/Happy The Man/Throw Your Foot (12”, Fiction FICSX 20)
In Between Days/The Exploding Boy/A Few Hours After This (12”, FICSX 22, later issued on CDV with bonus live tracks from “Cure In Orange“ VHS)
Close To Me (Extended Version)/A Man Inside My Mouth/Stop Dead (12“, Fiction FICSX 23, later issued on CDV with “New Day” as bonus track)
Half An Octopuss EP: Close To Me/A Man Inside My Mouth/New Day/Stop Dead (10”, Fiction FICST 23)
Boys Don’t Cry (New Voice Mix)/Pillbox Tales (7”, Fiction FICS 24)
Boys Don’t Cry (Extended 12” Dance Version)/Pillbox Tales/Do The Hansa (12”, Fiction FICSX 24)
Why Can’t I Be You/A Japanese Dream (7”, Fiction FICS 25, also available as double pack with extra live tracks from “Cure In Orange” VHS, b-side later included on “Join The Dots“)
Why Can’t I Be You (Extended Mix)/A Japanese Dream (Extended Mix) (12”, Fiction FICSX 25, CDV also exists with “Hey You!” as bonus track, as this was missing from original CD editions of “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me“ album)
Catch/Breathe/A Chain Of Flowers/Icing Sugar (New Mix)/Catch (Video) (CDV, Fiction 080 186-2, very rare, but as all b-sides are now on “Join The Dots“, other easier to find formats are worth hunting down)
Just Like Heaven (7” Mix)/Snow In Summer (7”, Fiction FICS 27)
Just Like Heaven (Remix)/Snow In Summer/Sugar Girl (CD, Fiction FIXCD 27, also on 12“, a-side now on “Galore“, b-sides on “Join The Dots“)
Hot Hot Hot!!! (Extended Mix)/(Remix)/Hey You! (Extended Mix) (CD, Fiction FIXCD 28, also on 12“)
The Peel Sessions EP: Killing An Arab (BBC)/10.15 Saturday Night (BBC)/Fire In Cairo (BBC)/Boys Don’t Cry (BBC) (CD, Strange Fruit SFPSCD 050)
Lullaby (Remix)/Babble/Out Of Mind/Lullaby (Extended Mix) (CD, Fiction FICCD 29)
Lovesong (7” Mix)/2 Late/Fear Of Ghosts/Lovesong (Extended Mix) (CD, Fiction FICCD 30, other formats exist in different coloured sleeves with various track listings)
Pictures Of You (Single Edit)/Last Dance (Live at Wembley) (Numbered Green Vinyl 7”, Fiction FICPA 34, also available on 2nd 7” with different b-side or CD with extra tracks, a-side on “Galore“)
Pictures Of You (Extended Version)/Last Dance (Live at Wembley)/Fascination Street (Live At Wembley) (12”, Fiction FICXA 34)
Pictures Of You (Strange Mix)/Prayers For Rain (Live at Wembley)/Disintegration (Live at Wembley) (Numbered Purple Vinyl 12”, Fiction FICXPB 34. All b-sides from these two 12“ singles are now on the “Entreat“ CD. “Strange Mix“ appears in retitled form on “Mixed Up“)
Never Enough/Harold And Joe/Let’s Go To Bed (Milk Mix) (CD, Fiction FICCD 35, also on 12“ with mix of a-side from “Mixed Up“ instead of normal version, and also on limited edition picture CD. “Never Enough“ now on “Galore“)
Close To Me (Closest Mix)/Just Like Heaven (Dizzy Mix)/Primary (Red Mix) (CD1, Fiction FICCD 36)
Close To Me (Closer Mix)/Just Like Heaven (Dizzy Mix)/Why Can’t I Be You (Extended Version) (CD2, Fiction FICDR 36, different p/s)
High (Trip Mix)/Open (High Mix) (Numbered Clear Vinyl 12” in see through sleeve, Fiction FICSX 41)
High/This Twilight Garden/Play/High (Higher Mix) (CD, Fiction FICCD39, in oversized box to hold “Wish” CD and the two forthcoming singles, plus card lyric insert)
Friday I’m In Love (Strangelove Mix)/Halo/Scared As You (Coloured Vinyl 12”, various colours available, Fiction FICSX 42, also on CD with LP version of a-side as bonus track)
A Letter To Elise (Edit)/The Big Hand/A Foolish Arrangement/A Letter To Elise (Blue Mix) (CD, Fiction FICCS 46, with lyric insert)
The 13th (Swing Radio Mix)/It Used To Be Me/The 13th (Killer Bee Mix) (CD1, Fiction 576 469-2)
The 13th (Two Chord Cool Mix)/Ovean/Adonis (CD2, Fiction 576 493-2, different p/s)
Mint Car (Radio Mix)/Home/Mint Car (Buskers Mix) (CD1, Fiction FICCD 52)
Mint Car (Electric Mix)/Waiting/A Pink Dream (CD2, Fiction FISCD 52, different p/s)
Gone! (Radio Mix)/The 13th (Feels Good Mix)/This Is A Lie (Ambient Mix)/Strange Attraction (Strange Mix) (CD1, Fiction FICCD 53)
Gone! (Radio Mix)/(Critter Mix)/(Ultraliving Mix)/(Spacer Mix) (CD2 in moving image sleeve, Fiction FICDD 53)
Wrong Number (Single Mix)/(Analogue Exchange Mix)/(p2p Mix)/(Crossed Line Mix)/(ISDN Mix) (CD, Fiction FICD 54)
Wrong Number (Single Mix)/(Dub Analogue Exchange Mix)/(Engaged Mix)/(p2p Mix)/(Digital Exchange Mix) (12”, Fiction FICSX 54)
Cut Here/Signal To Noise/Cut Here (Missing Remix)/(Video) (Enhanced CD, Fiction FICDD 55)
The End Of The World/This Morning/Fake/The End Of The World (Video) (Enhanced CD, Geffen 0602 498 62976 5)
Taking Off/Why Can’t I Be Me/You God Is Fear/Taking Off (Video) (Enhanced CD, Geffen 9864491)
The Only One (Mix 13)/NY Trip (7”, Geffen 1773441, also on CD)
Freakshow (Mix 13)/All Kinds Of Stuff (7”, Geffen 1774695, also on CD)
Sleep When I’m Dead (Mix 13)/Down Under (7”, Geffen 1778505, also on CD)
The Perfect Boy (Mix 13)/Without You (7”, Geffen 1780801, also on CD)
Hypnagogic States EP: The Only One (Remix)/Freakshow (Remix)/Sleep When I’m Dead (Remix)/The Perfect Boy (Remix)/Exploding Head Syndrome (Remix) (CD, Geffen 1782688)

As with any band who have done a b-sides set, many of the tracks listed above are on “Join The Dots”, meaning that for any single where the a-side was not remixed/extended/edited, the original 7” pressing would be of equal interest (such as the “Inbetween Days” 7”), as the b-sides are no longer “rare“. I would suggest you get “Join The Dots”, and take it from there.


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