In December, The Cure mark 40 years since the release of their first single, Killing An Arab (based, of course, on elements of L’Étranger (The Stranger) by Albert Camus). And this June, Robert Smith of The Cure is curating the line-up at (a frankly epic) Meltdown this summer for the 25th Anniversary of that festival, and then The Cure themselves play Hyde Park in early July.
/40 Years of The Cure – Their Influence in Covers
/Tuesday Ten/Artist Overviews
So, rather than just a best-of The Cure post – which could be done, but I’d be here all day with people telling me I’d picked the wrong songs, I’m sure – I’m delving into the world of covers of The Cure, by artists that I write about, have written about, or that I listen to. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of covers of the band, which perhaps is a testament to their broad appeal and their excellence over much of their career, and also meant that I wasn’t short of choice for songs to talk about.
But, aside from the thematic link to the artists included, I also wanted to ensure that this was ten different – in some cases very different – takes on their songs. Feel free, of course, to offer suggestions of your favourite covers, or indeed your favourite Cure songs (my favourites are not necessarily these ten!).
This, by the way, was a late change to the intended programming this week, after a flash of inspiration. Coming up over the next couple of months in the Tuesday Ten series will include posts on the best new music as usual, as well as songs involving Easter (well, kinda…), Spies, Dreams and Nightmares, and Sartorial choices. Tune in again next Tuesday.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me, or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
We’re all sick of covers of this damned song, right? There seem to be endless takes on this, and the SRC version of it – endlessly played for years at alt/metal/industrial clubs, despite there being at least four better songs for the dancefloor on the album – seems to play up to every teen fantasy possible, with Tobey Torres delivering a sultry vocal (and upping the filth quotient of the lyrics, too, if I’m not mistaken, right at the end). I’ve long wondered exactly how much control she had in the band, frankly – as good as the album was, particularly in the metal press she was dealt the hand of being the “eye candy” and little else. But, perhaps without this cover, maybe the band would have been forgotten a whole lot quicker, rightly or wrongly.
/Just Like Heaven
/You’re Living All Over Me
A bit of research suggests that everyone, it seems, has covered this, too, but J. Mascis and his band were rather quicker off the mark than most, this being done in 1989, just a couple of years after the original. They didn’t do a lot with it, really – making it that bit quicker, and that bit scuzzier, at least until the breakdown that surprises me every time. But this was, unlike many covers, clearly a wonderfully loving take on a song that J. Mascis had actually lived and listened-to-death. Other bands should perhaps take note.
/If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
/B-Sides and Rarities
Chino Moreno is one of the most prominent Cure fans, particularly in metal, and it is perhaps no surprise that the Deftones are one of the bands playing Meltdown this summer. The dark, enigmatic edge to their songs, particularly in Chino’s delivery, has long evoked the ghost of The Cure, and so a cover of the band was always going to happen, and a left-field choice like this actually makes far more sense than many more obvious songs. The brooding basslines, the slow groove and even Chino’s voice fit the song perfectly – and this is a somewhat respectful cover that doesn’t fuck around with the original mastery. It is also, perhaps, notable for being the best thing the Deftones did between White Pony and Diamond Eyes, in what was otherwise something of a lost decade for them.
The Smashing Pumpkins also covered this, but I much prefer this take on it, from an overlooked band who featured around the turn of the Millenium, lost in the carnage as Nu-Metal went mainstream and took everything down the toilet with it. They were formed by Jeff Schartoff after Human Waste Project imploded, and made a much more bass-heavy, industrial-tinged metal sound that resulted in an exceptional debut album (I must confess that I never went beyond it, and I really must fix that sometime). But, like every other band of the time, they still fell into the trap of covering an eighties hit – seriously, every fucking band in this scene did it at least once – although I guess at least they chose wisely. And amid the crushing weight and intensity of much of this album, this was an unexpected light relief (and certainly has aged rather better than SRC’s cover above, too…).
Yes, a second appearance from Disintegration – long my favourite Cure album by a mile. I can’t imagine that many fans of either band were expecting this when it was released, though. Also, that despite the band’s fearsome, noisy reputation, how restrained this cover actually is, at least until Jacob Bannon finally lets rip later into the song. But then, Converge were always a vastly more interesting band than many of their “metalcore” peers, and they hardly needed a smart choice of cover like this to ram the point home. That said, particularly with the (extremely-)shouty outro, perhaps this is a version best appreciated by Converge fans…
Years on from his time in Spahn Ranch, his new project NOIR takes the later-SR sound rather further, with new influences and a fascinating line in covers. While other bands have been covered (lush, swooning takes on Roxy Music and Duran Duran in particular, even early Ministry has featured too), the early cover of A Forest was a notable benchmark. As Athan discussed with me in /Talk Show Host/022, there was reason – and a deeper concept – behind the ideas of doing so many covers, and what was interesting was that all of them, while keeping nods to the originals, become Athan’s songs. His deep, rich vocal suits them well, particularly A Forest, with a dramatic flourish that sets it apart.
In light of Andy La Plegua’s edgelord bullshit in recent years, under the guise of his perhaps better-known band Combichrist, this choice of cover now seems in rather bad taste – and indeed the title of the song out of context is a little uncomfortable nowadays. But, the striking intensity of the original song, and the deep, intelligent subject matter must have hit like a bolt from the blue when it was released. So it is a shame to find Icon of Coil doing little more than phoning-in this cover, a lazy, cookie-cutter rhythm attached to a disinterested vocal that is pretty much the nadir of the band’s work. There were, of course, in the late-nineties and early-thousands, absolutely loads of industrial/goth “tribute” albums, most released on Cleopatra (this one wasn’t from what I can tell), and most were disposable and forgettable. A handful of songs might be worth listening to twice, this was not one of them.
These Canadian synthpop veterans have, to my surprise, released far more covers than I thought they had, and indeed some of those covers were the reason that they broke through in the first place. Quite a number of these covers were eventually collated together a few years ago, and it’s notable looking down the list of sources that there are certainly thematic links between them. This track – another Cure song with a literary influence, and one of my favourite Cure songs – is one of two Cure covers Psyche have done, and this is perhaps a brittle, more bruised version of the track with a deeply stripped-down take that actually suits it well (although I think I prefer the original, still).
/The Impossibility of Reason
Possibly the most surprising cover in this list comes from industrial-metal thrashers Chimaira, a band that built their name on an extraordinarily aggressive sound, that the industrial electronics and samples only enhanced even further (seriously, these guys were quite something live). But they did have their moments of introspection – if only to catch their breath – and this cover actually works better than you might think, but it does bludgeon away the more nuanced original, somewhat, and the grizzled vocals maybe don’t sound quite as great as the emotional delivery from Robert Smith. Somehow I suspect hardcore Cure fans might not like this one…
Incidentally Chimaira reunited at the end of 2017 for something of a celebratory show in Cleveland – here’s hoping there might be some more shows, and that it wasn’t just a one-off.
Of the various nineties punk bands out of the US, AFI were always, to put it mildly, black sheep in the flock. While everyone else seemed to be doing sunny pop-punk (and getting massive success in doing so), AFI was hanging out in the shadows, clearly with a love of the Misfits and wearing black and eyeliner, with extraordinary “goth” themes and lyrics (the big chant to get them back onstage? “Through Our Bleeding We Are One“, from the opening track of Black Sails In The Sunset), and indeed by the time of their commercial breakthrough in the 2000s, they were openly exploring industrial influences in their songs and even had Ronan Harris (VNV Nation) assisting on programming and synths on album Decemberunderground. But back in those earlier days, they threw out an intense, reverential take on one of The Cure’s most dramatic songs, The Hanging Garden, a song defined by the incessant drum tattoo that pounds through the song (and one that very much nods to Budgie’s drumming in Siouxsie & The Banshees, to my ears) – and needless to say that is kept here.
This post, and these ten songs, are of course just a toe in the water of the influence that The Cure has had on popular music. There are many more covers, many more nods to them, but I don’t have time to dig further yet. Maybe I’ll look at ten more in ten years time…