A Bientot

There will now be a break in transmissions for a fortnight while we head south to France for our summer holiday, the Atlantic coast for a week (near Royan, south of La Rochelle) and then a week in southern Brittany near Quimper. Static caravans this year, an upgrade from tents. I’m looking forward to the wine, the cheese, the sun and the heat, the sea, the sunsets, the slower pace of life. I’ll also be less well connected to events back here so I’ll miss Boris Johnson’s ascension to the Tory throne and installation as Prime Minister. Since 2016 I keep thinking we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel but someone or something always comes along to keep scraping lower- Trump’s outright racism recently a new low. I’m sure Johnson will provide us some further depths to tunnel. According to reports Jarvis Cocker finished his set at Blue Dot last weekend with his 2006 song Running The World, a song that keeps giving. Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, David Cameron, everyone in the European Research Group, the Conservative Party generally, the Murdoch press and anyone I’ve forgotten- this one is for you…

Running The World

Ever since The Cure played Glastonbury I’ve been immersing myself in their back catalogue and this song has been a real earworm for me over the last few weeks. In 1990 The Cure released an album of remixes and extended mixes called Mixed Up, a double album and one that stands up very well still today. Lullaby was a big hit in 1989, fuelled by a claustrophobic Tim Pope video. The extended mix (done by Robert Smith and producer Chris Parry) fades in gently, a funky guitar part and a shuffly rhythm guiding us. Once the bassline hits the whole thing shimmies along, Smith’s tale of dread and spidermen, taken to an outdoor disco, dancing under Mediterranean skies.

Lullaby (Extended Mix) 

Anyway, that’s yer lot for the moment, hope the weather holds up while we’re away, play nicely, look after yourselves and each other and I’ll see you in August.

Open My Eyes

I  was bowled over by the coverage of The Cure headlining Sunday night at Glastonbury. In the 80s I was an arm’s length fan of the band- liked some the singles, dipped into the albums, eventually realised A Forest is one of the great post-punk records, spun around to Inbetween Days and Just Like Heaven, but I was never a knocked out fan. 80s tribalism played a part here, there’s no denying it.

Watching bits of Glastonbury over the weekend presented some highlights- Johnny Marr reclaiming his Smiths songs, Billie Eilish lording it on Sunday afternoon, a seventeen year old with some serious confidence and attitude, Janelle Monae’s showstopper and a Saturday night blitz from The Chemical Brothers. But The Cure on Sunday night were something else, two hours of perfectly pitched songs, balanced between wonderful guitar/synth pop songs and creeping post-punk dread. Robert Smith’s voice has aged far better than most of his contemporaries and the group were spot on, Simon Gallup’s bass playing especially so (I’ve often had him down as a Hooky copyist but he was a post-punk bassist in his own right on Sunday night). In front of a massive crowd with very few smoke and light show gimmicks they played song after song that seemed to connect in Somerset and definitely broke through the plasma screen. They peppered their set with the hits and paced it brilliantly- Pictures Of You was chucked in as the second song, my favourite three mentioned above were all played mid- set, an icy Play For Today and an intense and wired Shake Dog Shake. The encore would have been worth the price of admission to a Cure gig on its own- Lullaby, The Caterpillar, The Walk, Friday I’m In Love, Close To Me, Why Can’t I Be You? and Boy’s Don’t Cry. Genuinely magical stuff and by a band who have done it more or less on their own terms, British post-punk, indie mavericks, surviving four decades and working their way in from the outside.

Pictures Of You

Show Me How You Do That Trick

There’s a dreamlike quality to The Cure’s Just Like Heaven, a 1987 single recorded in the south of France. The instruments come in one by one, the quicktime drums and melodic bass then rhythm guitar, followed by keys and lead guitar, and finally Robert Smith’s lyrics and thin vocals, inspired by a trip to Beachy Head with Mary. Smith says it is about ‘kissing and fainting to the floor’ and that sense of giddy weightlessness crosses over into the music.

Just Like Heaven

Dinosaur Jr’s 1989 cover is faster, louder and messier. It still carries the sense of weightlessness but is rooted in small venues, spilt beer and feedback.

Just Like Heaven

In Between Days

While looking for something else on the net I found this picture of fans of The Cure from 1985. It was an easily obtainable look for those willing to go the distance with the crimpers.

This 1985 single by The Cure couldn’t sound more like New Order if Hooky played the bass and Stephen Morris was on the drums. No mistaking the voice though, it couldn’t be anyone other than Robert Smith. A song about regretting the mistakes of a love triangle and losing the girl he wanted with the finest pop melodies and the jauntiest rhythm.

In Between Days

A song I’ve posted before, back in 2012 it seems, making reference to the New Order comparisons. Round and round….

Come Closer And See Into The Trees

I don’t have (or need) that many records by The Cure but this 12″ single from 1980 is close to perfection. The interplay between bass, drums, keys and flanged guitars with Robert Smiths’ anxious vocals work a treat. Post-punk dread as standard.

A Forest (Extended Mix)

In Between

I was never that into The Cure. I mean, I liked some of the singles- Boys Don’t Cry say, The Lovecats, Just Like Heaven- it’d be stupid not to. But I didn’t buy them. It was their fans I think and those silly shapeless, holey jumpers and messed up hair. Irritated me. And they did spend some time ripping off New Order’s sound. Pop-goths. Pah. Hence, I stood against The Cure, despite having the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me lp on tape and playing it secretly. There’s no denying some of their songs though two decades later, like this one.

In Between Days