on 23 January 2004
There’s much misunderstanding over this box-set and a lot of bad comments being made for no reason.
"The B Sides And Rarities" sums up exactly what is contained here, I'm puzzled why so many people are getting confused over this.
The B-Sides part explains itself, every B-Side which was an original song is present here and also a few B-Sides which were remixes of other songs.
The Rarities part is where people seem to be losing the plot. It's important to emphasise that this collection is by The Cure and nobody else, so that is the exact reason why you will not find any recordings made by Cure side-projects such as Cult Hero, The Glove or Fool's Dance, or projects/bands by other people featuring Robert Smith such as Junkie XL, The Banshees, Bowie or Bowie's cohorts Earl Slick and Reeves Gabrels.
The rarities present are Cure recordings that HAVE been available elsewhere before but not in any great quantities. So, you'll find the much heard about but rarely heard version of Lament given away free with Flexipop magazine, three version of Hello I Love You (two are from the rare Elektra record label compilation "Rubyait"), there's the only three Cure songs recorded specifically for films (as used on The Crow, The X Files and Judge Dredd movies) and there's various other remixes and songs, some of which have been available as legal downloads, some have been shall we just say available as "downloads"....
To me a rarity is a song that has been released but not widely available. Anything else is simply a song that has never been released ANYWHERE and that's where a great deal of people are getting confused with this box-set.
If you want music that has never EVER been available before then fear not, because from Spring 2004 The Cure are re-releasing their entire studio-album back catalogue and each will have a bonus disc of previously unreleased songs from the time period in which the album was made.
So chill out people and stop slagging off The Cure for not putting unreleased songs on this box-set, when it doesn't even say it contains any such thing !!!!
As for the songs that are present….
Well, the b-sides are amongst some of the finest music you’ll ever hear by and band on the planet, A-Side, B-Side or album track. They really are that good, even Robert Smith has commented recently that perhaps a few of the songs would have been better off on one of their albums in place of songs that actually did make the cut for the album. Naturally, as with all bands, the earlier stuff (and this set is in strict chronological order) goes from amusing naivety and then on into experimentalism. The middle of Disc 1 is predominantly electronic 1980s sounding, but that was primarily because the band was reduced to a two-piece at the time, the songwriting is still genius though. Towards the end of the disc the songs start getting really really good while still retaining very much a sound of their times. Basically, from Disc 2 onwards the quality of songwriting goes up several notches and songs such as A Chain Of Flowers, This Twilight Garden, The Big Hand, It Used To Be Me and Adonais are some of the finest songs you’ll ever hear, all the while bearing in mind they were just B-Sides.
The rest of the original B-Sides are all head and shoulders above album-track quality of many many other bands out there.
The remixes present are just what you’d expect from remixes of any bands songs. You either like a remix or you don’t, sometimes this depends on whether the mix sounds a lot like the original or nothing like it. I’ve never been such a fan of remixes, but a lot of people are so I guess it’s nice to see some of the bands remixes accounted for here (hey, they can’t be any worse than some of the rubbish on “Mixed Up” !!!).
The remainder of the material is the rarities and tracks from films. It doesn’t matter whether you think the Flexipop version of Lament is better than the original (or not) it’s just the fact that finally it’s been resurrected which counts !! Some people have been waiting over 20 years to hear this version again.
Hello I Love You is an entertainer in both of it’s versions (the 10 second version is actually just a reprise at the end of the Rubyait album, because that album is opened by the full length version of Hello…). The psychedelic version is just that and is a good reworking of the song, as is the normal version which is a bit of a sped up semi-rocker. Two versions of Purple Haze are present. The Virgin Radio version is simply fantastic and actually does add a bit to the original Hendrix version, by again being sped-up slightly (and also sounding a bit like the normal version of Hello…!!!). The other version of Purple Haze is just….terrible. Skip that track please ! Young Americans is again appalling….but nice to see it being released again (say’s through gritted teeth!).
There’s a few other rarities, but what I really want to mention is the three film songs. Burn is from The Crow and is easily in my top 5 Cure songs of all time. Pure genius, dark, heavy, thunderous drums. And our local dance music radio station used to play it at 7.30 every night in 1994 for some reason !!! More Than This from The X Files isn’t a Roxy Music cover version, contrary to popular bad reporting, it is in fact a decent enough electronic mood piece. Dredd Song (Judge Dredd, natch) is bursting with power and very orchestral sounding, with a nice message in the lyrics (nowt to do with Judge Dredd really…).
All in all, an amazing collection beating most bands regular output hands-down, and this is just The Cure’s leftovers!
on 2 February 2004
Join the Dots is the first major box-set from The Cure, taking in the whole of their career, but not in an obvious manner like 2001's Greatest Hits (which diluted Standing on a Beach with Galore). It is one for the fans, it works in a completist sense, even if multiple remixes of their Doors cover becomes a bit tedious (the cover versions here aren't too good- a dire Young Americans, & covers of Roxy Music, Depeche Mode & Jimi Hendrix- which only make me want to listen to the original!). But Join the Dots cleans up- I still have the tape of Standing on a Beach, from 1986, with that whole side of b-sides from 1978-1985: I'd buy this box-set for that alone! Due to the epic length, I'll give an overview of each disc:
The first disc is the best, as it is that second side of Standing on a Beach, with additions- from early b-sides (The T-Rexy Plastic Passion; the amusing Do the Hansa & classic track 1015 Saturday Night, memorably sampled by Massive Attack a few years ago)to the tracks found on compilation Japanese Whispers (1983, sounds like The Rapture). The wonderful Lament even comes in its rare 'flexipop' version. Smith embraced psychedelia and b-sides like Mr Pink Eyes & Throw Your Foot are easily as great as their a-sides (The Lovecats, The Caterpillar). The opening disc concludes with tracks from The Head on the Door-era, which built towards The Cure's peak (which has to be 1989's Disintegration). New Day is suitably bleak & sinister & countered by the joyful sound of The Exploding Boy (not unlike some New Order) & the dubious pop of A Man Inside My Mouth. A Few Hours After This...remains my favourite here, pointing to that vast sound in years to come...*****
The second disc is almost as great- though the multiple versions of tracks like Hello I Love You & the pointless remixes of Just Like Heaven & Hey You are ones to program out (the version of How Beautiful You Are just reminds you that it should have been a single...) A Japanese Dream advances on the sound of earlier tracks, while Snow in Summer is as sublime as it's a-side (Just Like Heaven)- a lost classic. & I find it odd that chuff like Icing Sugar & Hey You made Kiss Me... but the more opaque charms of Breathe and Chain of Flowers didn't! Even better are the Disintegration b-sides, from the violent Babble, the poppy 2 Late, the psychedelic advance of Out of Mind & best of all, the bleak Fear of Ghosts- as great as a Disintegration-track like Prayers for Rain or The Same Deep Water as You. The other b-side of note, as we advanced toward the irritating Mixed Up project, is Harold & Joe- the flip of Never Enough and one of Smith's greatest pop moments waiting to be rediscovered...*****
The third disc is noticeably shorter than the first two- & I could live without Dredd Song (from the dire Judge Dredd film), the cover of Purple Haze or the remix of Doing the Unstuck (the original is fine as it is, thank you!). The first six-tracks stem from commercial high Wish (1992), Captain Bob balancing doom rock and perfect pop- the latter is evident with A Foolish Arrangement and the lovely Halo. Play and This Twilight Garden are pitched between the two; the doom rock wins over with one of the best tracks The Cure have done, The Big Hand. Towards the end of the disc we hit on b-sides from the problematic (though not that bad) Wild Mood Swings- & Ocean really should have made the album over a track like Gone or Return... ****
The fourth disc is more completist, perhaps too many alternate versions of tracks/remixes- the Mike Hedges mix of Maybe Someday shows that The Cure could probably still have pop hits, though I still don't get Just Say Yes!!. & like a few Bowie albums (Earthling, Outside), I'm not sure if I like Wrong Number, or just a bit of it- though this is probably down to ex-Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabriel's input here. The versions of A Forest and Out of This World just make me want to listen to the originals, it seems that 13 years later, Smith is still in Mixed Up mode- when the live version of A Forest they were playing a few years ago was as definitive as can be! (the touring line-up who recorded Trilogy are playing some of the best versions of old Cure tracks...). Can't say I'd play disc four very often, but it does tie things up nicely...***
Join the Dots is a great collection that any Cure-head will have to own and it heralds an era where The Cure have found themselves come back into fashion (or just be one of those bands apart from time/vogue who people listen to regardless, e.g. Pink Floyd, Genesis, Can). People are covering The Cure- from Jamie Cullum/Guy Barker's Friday I'm in Love to Tricky's take on The Lovecats to acts sampling songs like 1015 Sat Night & Lullaby. & then bands like Hot Hot Heat and The Rapture, who reference The Cure alongside bands like Gang of Four & PIL. So, it's a good time to remind yourself of their joys, & following this comes a severe reissue programme of all their albums. Hail Captain Bob and his Merry Crew!!!