Thursday, 11 November 2010

Getting a dose of The Cure

The story of The Cure begins, somewhat disturbingly, with a violent suicide, and continues in equally cheerful fashion to document the tale of the band right from its very first incarnation, complete with broken thumbs, drug abuse, alcoholism, touring with The Banshees and pissing on Billy Idol's foot. (Classic...) The story is told in a nihilistic vein not particularly surprising from the band who released such albums as Pornography and Disintegration.

Kudos to the author, Jeff Apter, for trying to write a book about The Cure, rather than a book about Robert Smith, even if it has turned into a book about Mad Bob with occasional paragraphs about other people. Attempt noted, anyway.

I am not sure if I like Robert Smith overmuch after reading this book - I originally had a mental image of the lipstick-besmeared one as a figure not dissimilar to Sebastian from GloomCookie; tousle-haired and introspective with an air of vague bewilderment (plus, if you check out the video for Friday I'm In Love, I swear he even looks like Sebastian) and an undercurrent of genius. However, in this book Smith comes across as bossy, drug-addled and indifferent to pretty much everyone and everything, although there is still likeability in his determination to produce his music, his way.

I particularly enjoyed the segments documenting the time spent touring with Siouxsie and the Banshees - here Smith is portrayed as almost hero-worshipping Steven Severin, to the extent of temporarily kicking his own band to the gutter to become a Banshee. The pictures, too, are interesting - although, again, I liked the ones with the Banshees the best (music-wise, I mostly prefer The Cure, but for image and attitude I'd pick the Banshees. I do find it hard to choose a preference between Smith's hairstyle and Siouxsie's, though...), mainly because Siouxsie is Just. So. Damn. Awesome.

This is an interesting book with some fascinating insights into the music industry and the history of this undeniably talented band (and of course its tangle-headed frontman), and I can now provide some random, fun facts about The Cure (did you know that the name 'The Cure' came from 'The Easy Cure', the title of one of their very, very early, unreleased tracks? Also, they underwent various name changes before going professional, including such gems as 'The Obelisk' and 'Malice').

There were a few things I found irritating, such as the author's tendency to repeat certain words and phrases ('typically', 'uninspiring', and the fact that Smith never speaks but always 'insists') and go off on tangents (I wanted to read about The Cure, not the history of Crawley...).

As reading material Never Enough was perhaps too bleak for my personal tastes - I tend more towards the spooky than the morose - but certainly intriguing.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

I do apologise that I am commenting on something you posted so long ago, but I only just came across it by accident and felt inspired to write.

I wanted to say that I genuinely appreciate your critique on Jeff Apter's writing and I have to say that I agree - he does have a tendency to focus primarily on Robert Smith whilst neglecting the other members of the band and indeed wonders off on little tangents about Crawley, Sussex. I also felt that he often failed to understand or completely misinterprets what Robert Smith is saying half of the time. Anyone who knows enough about Robert Smith realizes that you can't take anything he says, especially in interviews, at face-value and have to read between the lines.

It is very much in Robert's humour to either down-play or makes very little effort to show interest in something when asked/questioned about it, which does make him come across as indifferent. For example; anyone who knows a little bit about Robert knows that his relationship with Mary plays a huge part in his life and keeps him grounded, however, ask him about his marriage and he'll probably tell you that "Well, we'd been together so long, I couldn't be bothered to find another girlfriend so, yeah . . . why not!" Yes, Robert, whatever you say mate!

I would highly recommend, if you can find a copy, the now out-of-print biography “The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years” by Barbarian, Steve Sutherland and Robert Smith. It is the only “official” biography of the band and covers the band’s history from their early beginnings up until the release of “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” in 1987 but there are a lot more photographs, especially from their early years and much more insight from other members of the band such as Lol Tolhurt, Michael Dempsey, Simon Gallup, Boris Williams and Steven Severin on Smith’s time in The Banshees. I would also like to say it is much more fun to ‘hear’ the infamous Billy Idol story told by Lol Tolhurt himself!

Others I would suggest are “In Between Day: An Armchair Guide to The Cure” by Dave Thompson and “Robert Smith: The Cure & Wishful Thinking” by Richard Carman. However, I would strongly recommend “Ten Imaginary Years” as it is a lot less bleak than “Never Enough”, contains more photographs, original press reviews of singles/albums and features much more insight from other members of the band. It is because of this more balanced account from several members of the band that you also get a glimpse of the “silliness” that goes on within The Cure – for example when Robert Smith proposed the title “Pornography”, Lol and Simon just laughed and even after Robert tried to explain his serious “vision” behind the name and the concept, Simon still wanted to call the album “Sex”!

To conclude; “Ten Imaginary Years” is simply a more enjoyable read and one I pick up again on a regular basis.

Anyway, thanks for your insight on “Never Enough”! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who has read it – it often feels that way! Kind regard, Matt.

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