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CD Review: The Cure – Pornography (2005 deluxe edition reissue)

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Back in the day I was a huge fan of The Cure, Depeche Mode, Joy Division, The Smiths and other depressing bands. I wasn’t a goth, as the term is known now, but I did like to dress in black and write depressing poetry. I had memorized the date of Ian Curtis’ death (Joy Division’s lead singer), which any good Joy Division fan would do, and in my spare time I liked to get really depressed, cranking up the stereo as I listened to phonograph after phonograph, immersing myself in a depressing wall of sound.

For me, there is a hierarchy of the ultimate depressing albums, with Joy Division’s masterpiece Closer at the top, and The Cure’s Pornography at number two.

Pornography is in-your-face depressing, slamming into the listener at full force with the opening track, “One Hundred Years,” which opens with the lyrics, “It doesn’t matter if we all die…” Yes, you know what sort of ride you’re in for with Robert Smith as your pilot.

The album has been digitally remastered and sounds fantastic. Previous versions sounded a little dull, but now the full force of the music is evident and all the more powerful. Just listen to Lol Tolhurst’s drumming in “One Hundred Years,” which sounds like a heart beat, or Smith’s guitar playing, creating a unique wall of sound, bolstered by Simon Gallup’s bass, with keyboard sounds swirling in and out of existence. The remaining songs all sound brand-new. Listen to “Siamese Twins,” it’s like being in the room with the band as they perform. Tolhurst’s drumming takes center stage again in “Cold,” along with Robert Smith on the cello. It’s mesmerizing.

Pornography is a short album, eight songs clocking in at under 44 minutes. I’d recommend the album even if it was just the remastered version of Pornography, but the deluxe version includes a second disc of rarities, demos, and live tracks. If you’re a Cure fan, you need this album, if only for the chance to listen to tracks in their early stages of development. The live tracks don’t sound very good, but still, to hear the band perform “Cold” and other tracks live is worth the extra cost of the deluxe edition of Pornography.

A liner-sheet booklet accompanies the two-CD set, with some interesting background info on the recording of Pornography, as well as all the lyrics to the songs and photographs.

If you’re still listening to that old cassette version of Pornography, it’s time to chuck it and buy this CD. Highly recommended.

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About scottcsmith

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    Some magazine about ten years ago rated the darkness of the Cure’s albums on a scale of 1-5. Pornography received a 9. Out of 5.

    I love this album. I’m more of a fan of Seventeen Seconds and Faith, but I actually probably listen to Pornography more than either. And how did you know I was listening to it on an old cassette?

    BTW: the same magazine article gave Wish a darkness rating of -9.

  • Rodney Welch

    I just discovered Pornography in January, like it enormously and, frankly, don’t find it depressing — which is not to say it isn’t, just that it doesn’t hit me that way. I’m a little too old for it to have that effect. What I love about it is that it has a big sound that attacks you from the start, and it manages to keep it up over the course of 40 minutes or so. It’s stark but not really minimalist. It’s a hugely emotional album. Dark, yes, but oddly velvety and warm.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    I wish they would hurry and remaster Disintegration already.

  • Rodney Welch

    Me too. Never heard it, but that’s the one everyone says to get. I also like the 2-disc reissue of Seventeen Seconds, which also comes with fascinating extras.

  • Scott Butki

    I used to listen to Staring at the Sea daily – that’s a great collection of all of their styles.

    Complaining about the Cure being depressing is like complaining that you get hot when wearing black all the time.

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    I wish they would tour again, and play my city.

  • zingzing

    i don’t think i’ve listened to this album in at least 5 years. used to be quite a favorite of mine. i never listen to closer anymore either…

    my favorite cure album these days is the top. my favorite joy division is new order. har. ~shrug~

  • http://www.scottcsmith.net Scott C. Smith

    Michael: how did I know about the cassette? Because that’s what I owned in the 80s when I first purchased Pornography.

    I could have sworn I read somewhere that Disintegration was going to be remastered and re-released, along with other albums from The Cure’s catalog.

  • Untitled

    I think that Lol Tolhurst was not playing Drums on Pornography album, they were using drum machine or keyboards.

  • http://www.scottcsmith.net Scott C. Smith

    The liner notes for Pornography credit Lol Tolhurst on drums, although they probably did use a drum machine in some songs (and if you listen to some of the demos on the second disc you’ll hear the drum machine).