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4.2 out of 5 stars20
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 31 December 2003
This is almost not a Cure album in the sense that Robert Smith plays all the guitars and bass and 99% of the keyboards (according to the Lol Tolhurst VS The Cure royalties court case which Tolhurst lost because the judge agreed he had contributed basically nothing after giving up drums to become the bands "keyboard player").
The only other musicians to appear are Andy Anderson on drums (who had appeared on The Lovecats and played live with the band for about a year) and the awesome newly-installed guitarist Porl Thompson, who sadly doesn't even play guitar on this record - just a little bit of saxaphone on one song !!!!
The album starts off with what continues to this day to be a classic live opening track, Shake Dog Shake – a track I guess best described as a post-punk rock tune (not a post punk-rock tune if that makes any sense?!). It’s much better live where it’s played a lot harder, I feel the mix on the album does the song an injustice, but it’s still good.
Bird Mad Girl harks back to the early days of the Three Imaginary Boys album with it’s guitar pop sensibilities, but also gives a clue as to what the band would come up with a year later (i.e. the extreme jangly-guitar pop of Inbetween Days, etc).
Wailing Wall is an interesting hark back to the Pornography album’s sound but the eastern-tinged keyboards sound a bit out of place with the rough-edged sound of the rest of the song and harsh drumming. Best put in the file marked “experiment” I think.
Give Me It (featuring Thompson’s saxaphone) is similar to Shake Dog Shake in that it could have been an excellent heavy rocker (the hard drumming is superb on this song) but sadly the guitars are mixed too low and with too much treble for the song to sound anything other than irritating on the ears !! (Perhaps that was the intention knowing The Cure…).
Dressing Up is a lovely song with a slightly funky element, spoilt ever-so-slightly by Smith’s over the top (pardon the pun) copying of Billie McKenzie’s (R.I.P) crazy vocal style. This is another of the album’s tracks which translates really well live.
The Caterpillar is a tune that nobody but The Cure could ever write, kinda like Marc Bolan’s crazy accoustic-guitar-with-bongo’s era except without the cheesy glam sound.
Piggy In The Mirror is another awesome sounding song with fantastic instrumentation and a beautiful flamenco-guitar solo, just Smith’s crazy vocal’s get on your nerves a bit !! Don’t get me wrong, I love his voice on 99% of The Cure’s recordings but for some reason on this album he’s got a McKenzie obsession that he just couldn’t shake.
The Empty World must rank as perhaps The Cure’s worst ever song, it really is so bad. Nobody likes to hear any guitar band making records with military drumming and military-esque riffs on keyboards. Just horrible.
Bananafishbones is just pure acid soaked craziness. All those bands in the late 1980’s like Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses and Primal Scream who used to boast about their drug intake while making records that were as plain as day just make me laugh when you hear records like Bananafishbones. Now, THIS song was most certainly written and recorded on drugs !!!! Whether that was a good or bad thing….well, it’s certainly not Purple Haze, but worth a listen to any interested ear – particularly to Barrett-era Floyd fans !!!!
Final song is title track The Top which doesn’t seem to go anywhere fast but eventually gets to a bit of an interesting hook. It’s just a bit too slow to hold a lot of attention over the whole song.
If you’re in the business of investing heavily in The Cure’s back catalogue then put this album way down your list or you may end up never buying another Cure album again !!!!
All in all, this is a fun album with some excellent songs. The only real negative is Smith’s wild vocal style which he has rarely used since this record. No doubt in his drug-addled mind he probably thought he sounded like Pavarotti while recording this album, but….no he doesn’t at all.
Only buy this if you’ve bought-up nearly all the rest of The Cure’s studio albums – or perhaps if you are really mad yourself then you might just want to buy it right away.
Your choice really !!!!
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on 27 March 2008
This is a fascinating album that really has more in common with Smiths side-project, The Glove, and even siouxsie and the banshees than the Cure. The Cure are either bouncy pop tunes or long meandering musical pieces of atmosphere set to depressing lyrics. Well this is kinda neither.

The music is very varied. It somehow manages to contain the happiest joyous moments (dressing up, the caterpillar) and the most dark and despairing in all the Cure's repertoire (shake dog shake, the top), as well as highly experimental explosions of anger and paranoia (Give me it, bananafishbones) and some bizarre 'is it happy is it sad' pop songs which are anything but pop (bird mad girl, bananafishbones).

Robert Smith was quite clearly in a strange place mentally when he was making this record. It is evident in the music, lyrics and vocal performance. It's all over the place, purposefully. Either restrained like in wailing wall, paranoid in give me it, completely insane in dressing up.

This is weirdly, my favourite Cure album. It's one that tends to get ignored, but in the 80s there was so little of this kind of psychedelia, it belongs to a genre unto itself. 80's pop psychedelia revival. Sometimes fluffy and bouncy and sometimes heavy and suicidal, The Top - delivers!
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on 22 October 2014
Another great album by The Cure
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on 29 October 2012
This CD is the first half of the 80s, is not among the best of the band but also not bad. He does not compromise. Worth a lot to those who are fans and want to complete the discography. There was a hit at the time, with the best works of this period banda. The disc 2 are leftovers and were edited for the fans, not bringing anything interesting to anyone who does not want to risk it. It is a work median. Note 6.0 is good.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 15 March 2003
The Top is probably one of the worst Cure albums- though that title goes to 1996's Wild Mood Swings; it is by no means awful & has many Cure classics but it feels somewhat fried...Perhaps this was due to Smith's extra-curricular activity, since the Cure's implosion in 1982 (which saw the classic Smith-Gallup-Tolhurst lineup fall apart post-Pornography), Robert Smith had joined Siouxsie & the Banshees, released several great pop singles as a rejuvinated Cure (The Walk, The Lovecats), co-written Torment with Steve Severin for Marc & the Mambas and formed another splinter group, The Glove, with Severin.
Thus The Top feels slightly unfocused & extremely unhinged- if you take The Glove's Blue Sunshine, The Banshees' Hyaena & this you have more good than bad.
The Top opens with Shake Dog Shake, a song they still perform to this day & one that extends on the hallucinatory violence of 82's masterpiece Pornography.
The attempts at pop flitter between genius: Dressing Up, The Caterpillar, Piggy in the Mirror (which continued the direction set by The Lovecats and predict later songs such as 6 Different Ways, Like Cockatoos & The 13th) & odd songs like Birdmad Girl & Bananfishbones that only half come off.
Wailing Wall is a sub-Banshees dirge, 87's Snakepit would do this thing with much more focus; while Give Me It is a terrible metal thrash.
The Empty World remains me a little of Julian Cope's equally fried Fried (also 1984) as does closer The Top- childhood & hallucninations appear to permeate.
The Top does contain some classics & it is tinged with LSD-inflected abandon- things would improve the following year when the classic Smith-Tolhurst-Thompson-Gallup-Williams line-up would record The Head on the Door which set the mould for the subsequent Kiss Me, Disintergration & Wish albums.
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on 22 February 2012
The CD is the top, where noboby comes, you just imagine it all.
What a fantasic album featuring great songs like Piggy in the mirror, Dressing up and birdmad girl.
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on 14 February 2015
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on 30 May 2005
This is the real thing, this is a true classic. The Best album of the eighties. And by far the best Cure album! Beautifully complex and Colourful, Dark and sweet. Amazing lyrics and music, more honest and thorough then any Smiths or any crap new British band!
Ignore all the others their just kids.
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on 17 June 2007
For my money the Cure have always been an eclectic bunch of popsters. This album is a fine case in point.

Way back in the 80's (when eclecticism was acceptable) I played this record to a friend, who promptly said that the album was all-over the place stylistically. From that point the pathway to Minniappolis' favourite is clearly defined.

As a record, "The Top" has, from the day of purchase, held a special place in my heart. It shifts from references of Polar Bears (my most favourite animal), to dogs, cats, pigs and rather wild party antics. The eponymous closing track, 'Piggy in the mirror', 'Shake dog, shake' and 'Give me it' remain favourites over twenty years later.

This isn't the Cure at their best (hence only three stars) but it does provide a very valuable link between "Pornography" and "Head on the door". If you're new to the Cure buy the recordings either side of "The Top" (I exclude "Japanese whispers" purposefully) first but please, do buy "The Top", especially if you like Prince.
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on 21 June 2009
It's a decent enough 40 minute album but not one that I would plan to re-listen to more than a handful of times. I find it to be a bit tiresome to listen to in one sitting as The Cure are not masters of variety. I would also say that the album is less than the sum of its parts.

1. "Shake Dog Shake" - 4:55 (3 stars)
Solid but unremarkable rock song. Doesn't have anything to say but sounds good.

2. "Birdmad Girl" - 4:05 (4 stars)
Quite poppy without sounding like an out and out pop song. Very clean and clear with lots of space in the mix. Decent lyrics about being a polar bear.

3. "Wailing Wall" - 5:17 (3 stars)
Lots of odd noises and Arabian sounding parts. Lyrically a bit different to the usual as it's about a place and not an emotional state.

4. Give Me It" - 3:42 (3 stars)
A straightforward generic rock song.

5. "Dressing Up" - 2:51 (2 stars)
Too mid-tempo and similar sounding to the following song. Very short and doesn't go anywhere.

6. "The Caterpillar" - 3:40 (5 stars)
Excellent song and was released as a single. It's missing from the Greatest Hits CD where it would fit like a glove (perhaps it didn't chart high enough for inclusion). Very melodic pop song with nice "Ho, ho, ho" backing vocals.

7. "Piggy in the Mirror" - 3:40 (3 stars)
Pleasant song that doesn't amount to much. Not much more than filler.

8. "The Empty World" - 2:36 (2 stars)
Flute (?) dominates and is solely responsible for the melody. Doesn't have much of an ending.

9. "Bananafishbones" - 3:12 (3 stars)
Seems to have lots of keyboard stuff going on. Odd sounding song, as though it's a bit out of whack. The lyrics are difficult to make out.

10. "The Top" - 6:58 (3 stars)
Solid song with clear vocals. The spare music has a lot of tension in it. I want to like this song a lot more than I do but it doesn't go anywhere. It never shifts up a gear and rocks out like it feels it should. It also feels like an overlong track.

I like to make EP playlists out of albums on my iPod. Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 6 made the cut.
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