Rhino Records has released a deluxe edition of The Cure’s first album, Three Imaginary Boys, which was previously only available in the US as an import. Their first US release, Boys Don’t Cry, has eight of the same songs from Three Imaginary Boys. Two other tracks from Boys Don’t Cry appear on the rarities disc and they happen to be two of the most popular from this early period, the title track and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.”
Disc one is the album in its entirety, clocking in at a meager 36 minutes. The songs are short and the structure of the music is simple, but you can hear the seeds of what The Cure’s sound would later become throughout the album. “Object” has a cool echo effect on the vocals. “Subway” is a short, spooky song about a woman being followed. “Meathook” is a weird, funny story about going into a butcher shop and Robert repeats some words. The only well known song is “10:15 Saturday Night.”
The band started out as a trio with Robert Smith on guitar, Lol Tolhurst on drums and Michael Dempsey on bass. Three Imaginary Boys sounds very good for a debut album. It still has a unique sound after all these years; however, it’s hard to truly appreciate what this sounded like in 1979. It’s a problem all art suffers when you look back after its influence has made permeated the culture, much the same way the editing of Goddard’s Breathless no longer appears groundbreaking after 40-plus years.
Disc two is over an hour of rarities spanning 1977-1979. It’s a mixture of live tracks, demos and studio tracks; three of which appeared on the Curiosity cassette in 1984. Future member Porl Thompson plays guitar on six of the tracks, adding more of a rock sound to the music. On two of the home demos the vocals are horrendous and should have been left off. You can hear the progression of “10:15 Saturday Night” as the home demo has very pronounced keyboards and the tempo is slowed down. The two tracks from Boys Don’t Cry have a warmer sound in both the vocals and music. The disc closes with three tracks recorded live in Nottingham in 1979. It seems like a bootleg rather than being recorded through the soundboard. You can hear the audience murmuring throughout.
The liner notes have some interesting information about the band at this stage and the recording of the album. Robert discusses why he “never allowed anyone in the studio in the role of ‘producer'” after this album and the lame artwork that graces the cover.
This two-disc set is cheaper than the import, so if you were holding out, now is the time to purchase it. For fans that already have the album, the remastering and rarities are worth the price, so sell your disc along with your copies of Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography, all of which will soon be arriving in expanded, remastered formats.
Robert was able to get the music companies to release these upgraded discs in exchange for allowing HP to use “Pictures of You” in a commercial, so everyone who badmouthed him and called him a “sell-out” needs to apologize. Sorry for doubting you, Robert. You were right. I was wrong.