Last summer Robert Smith curated the Meltdown festival in the UK with handpicked acts ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Nine In Nails to The Church. The Cure, of course, headlined but were billed as CURÆTION-25 so as not to violate a contract for its massive headlining slot a few weeks later in London’s Hyde Park. Both shows are being combined for a DVD/Blu-Ray release this October to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. The setlists are expectedly massive, showcasing every idiosyncratic incarnation of the band.
Smith recently revealed an update for the band’s progress on its first new album in 11 years in an interview at the Fuji Rock Festival, claiming that the record will be delayed until next year. He had originally claimed it would be out close to Halloween this year. Even casual Cure fans know not to trust anything the man says with regard to release timelines.
Depeche Mode has signed a new record deal for its forthcoming album due out in March of next year. Columbia Records will release the as-yet-untitled album, which primary songwriter Martin Gore – in a message on the band’s website – describes as having “similar vibe to Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion.” I’m down with the sounds like Violator part but Songs of Faith and Devotion not so much. When Depeche mode discovered “soul” on SOFAD in 1993 that was the beginning of the band’s patchiest period, which has lasted going on years now. I understand that the band had to grow musically in order to survive, but there comes a point when you’ve created a brand wherein you can only monkey so much with its elements before you frustrate even your most loyal fans. Depeche Mode has tested these waters time and again and pretty much come out the other side with a devoutly loyal fanbase, despite a few rather shaky full-lengths. Its last album, Sound of the Universe, residing at the worst end of that shaky spectrum. I’m always ready to give the band a pass to see if it can pull off a miracle and sound vital again, but the doubt grows with the announcement of every new album. My fears being confirmed with the recent teaser video of some of the new material:
Vocalist Dave Gahan’s classic baritone is a choice weapon, but when he tries too hard to sound soulful things get murky in a hurry. The opposite end of Depeche Mode’s insistence on musical growth would be The Cure’s pandering sameness. The Cure’s repertoire from Disintegration going backwards is almost untouchable, but, once the band started insulting its audience with boring rewrites, things spiraled down to a nub of disinterest. Now the band is a cartoon karaoke group that puts out a new album every half decade that absolutely no one gives a shit about. Depeche Mode has managed to straddle this line delicately. Here’s to hoping they do not succumb. [via Slicing Up Eyeballs]
The Cure has been nominated for induction into the joke that is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Kudos! Except, wait, Robert Smith is pissed about something. Evidently, The Cure’s “current” drummer was left off the name check list on the band’s bio at the official Hall of Fame site. In the Hall of Fame’s defense, The Cure’s revolving door policy for members over the past 30 years is bound to result in a few oversights. Granted, Jason Cooper has been in The Cure for 17 years. But in all honesty The Cure isn’t being nominated for anything Jason Cooper has added to the canon. Playing drums on 17 years of, uhh, less than stellar albums does not an induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame make.
In other Cure news, the band is preparing to reprise its “Reflections” concerts, wherein the band will play its first three albums in their entirety for special shows in London, New York, and Los Angeles this November.
The Cure is planning to reform with founding member Laurence Tolhurst for a special series of shows at the Sydney Opera House in Australia as a part of Vivid Live 2011. The band plans to perform its first three albums (Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds, Faith) in their entirety on May 31st and June 1st, respectively, which will be filmed for a future DVD set. Joining Tolhurst, vocalist Robert Smith, long-time bassist Simon Gallup, and current drummer Jason Copper will be keyboardist Roger O’Donnell, who has been with the band on and off since the “Kissing Tour” in 1987. Tolhurst was shamefully ousted from The Cure right around the release of Disintegration in 1989 after being credited with “other instrument” in that album’s liner notes. He’d been a punching bag in The Cure for years due to his “one finger” keyboard technique. He later sued Smith for back royalties in the mid-1990’s, further souring their relationship. Having obviously patched things up with Smith, Tolhurst will make his first appearance with the band in over twenty years. The line-up decision for these shows is somewhat odd given that if you’re going to make a special effort to replicate early albums then you should probably use only the personnel that worked on each record. It’d be far more interesting for the die-hard fans who will appreciate this the most to see the original line-up for each of those three records than a hodge-podge assemblage of old and new. Either way, it’s good to see Three Imaginary Boys getting some live love.
If you’re keen on hearing a remixed version of The Cure’s finest live recording, then you’ll be pleased to know that the 1990 promotional album, Entreat, is being given a deluxe reissue treatment on double vinyl in January of 2011. As a former Cure bootleg obsessive, I can attest that this performance is the sound of The Cure at its absolute zenith. It was the best line-up of The Cure, touring behind the best Cure album on what should have been the band’s last tour (following up on all of Robert Smith’s threats, promises, etc.). But, alas, the 90’s happened, anyway, and The Cure decided to participate. The new remixed collection, which was originally part of the Disintegration reissue from earlier this year, will be released by The Cure’s longtime home, Elektra Records. The expanded form adds four tracks to the original promotional disc, and rumors are circulating that it will receive a CD release of its own as well. I have yet to hear any of Robert Smith’s remixes of these recordings, but I’m not sure how they could be improved upon. The version of Disintegration‘s title track is inarguably the best thing the band ever put to tape.
The Cure’s original drummer, Laurence Tolhurst, who was publicly humiliated and subsequently fired by band leader Robert Smith for being “useless”, wants to rejoin the band for a 30th anniversary tour celebrating Faith, the band’s gloomily masterful third album. Despite Smith’s public thrashing of him, Tolhurst played an integral role in The Cure’s early years, not only for being present at such a creative apex for Smith but also for drumming on classics from Three Imaginary Boys through the transitional Japanese Whispers. He moved to keyboards when the band’s rhythms became too complex and was eventually replaced by Boris Williams. Tolhurst’s substance abuse was legendary in The Cure’s inner circle, and Smiths’s disdain for his mate reached a point where the business end of The Cure was threatened by the actions of his longtime friend. Tolhurst was dealt many passive aggressive blows until his inevitable firing. Even his keyboard playing was mocked when the band hired an additional keyboardist in Roger O’Donnell, circa Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. And in the video for “Just Like Heaven,” Tolhurst’s presence was but a blurry blip in the background:
The final blow came in the liner notes to The Cure’s masterwork, Disintegration, where Tolhurst was credited with “Other Instrument,” as he had become little more than the band’s mascot and punching bag. He was sacked shortly before the band’s 1989 “Prayer Tour.” His asking to rejoin the band is far from the craziest thing in the Cure’s illustrious history. He and Smith have evidently patched things up to some degree with Tolhurst even tweeting about his recent communication with his old friend. If he can still bang out those dirges, I don’t see why not. Couldn’t be any worse than whatever dreck that’s been released in the past two decades under the name The Cure. I say go for it.