Monday, 15 July 2013
107 Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me - The Cure
Purchased : September 30 1988
Tracks : The Kiss / Catch / Torture / If Only Tonight We Could Sleep / Why Can't I Be You / How Beautiful You Are / Snakepit / Hey You !/ Just Like Heaven / All I Want / Hot Hot Hot !!! / One More Time / Like Cockatoos / Icing Sugar / The Perfect Girl / A Thousand Hours / Shiver And Shake / Fight
This was bought for £6.00 ( their discreet little green sticker is still on the sleeve ) from Soundsearch on a Friday lunchtime.
This is the first single artist double LP I've covered and as I haven't played it in its entirety since that Friday evening nearly 25 years ago writing about it is another daunting prospect.
This was The Cure's seventh studio album - or eighth or ninth depending on your classification of "Carnage Visors" and "Japanese Whispers"- and having had the equivalent of a year off in 1986 when the "Standing On A Beach" compilation kept their name afloat there was enough material stockpiled to release a double the following year. Robert Smith wrote all the words , the music being credited to all five members at the time. As with many double LPs it provided an opportunity to showcase the band's talents in a variety of styles so this LP is as open and expansive as some past efforts were claustrophobic ( but we'll get to those soon enough ).
The album's title comes from the first line of the opening track "The Kiss" but you have to wait nearly four minutes for its sole angry verse to begin. Before that you have half a minute of Simon Gallup's lurching bass stabs before Smith unleashes the mother of all post-punk guitar solos, the endlessly unresolving guitar churn and pulsing bass enough to chill the heart of any Goth. The song seems to be about cold turkey with heroin or whatever addressed as an unwelcome guest "Get your fucking voice out of my head" and the music just as effective as the words in conveying Smith's feelings on the subject.
"Catch" was the second single from the LP ( peaking at 27 ) and is a woozy ballad inspired, according to Smith, by a chance encounter at an airport which jogged his memory of a girl that featured in his childhood hallucinations after suffering head trauma in an accident. The insect noises, drummer Boris Williams' brush strokes and a sole violin playing right through the track conjure up the right setting for a typically drowsy Smith vocal which is right at the limits of his range but it's not totally convincing.
"Torture", which is either about withdrawal symptoms or dodgy sex, is musically a close cousin to Dead Souls with its crisp rock drumming providing the platform for Gallup's inventive bass playing and Smith's abstract guitar. His echo-laden wail is appropriate but there isn't much of a tune, a brief trumpet solo at the end providing a little relieving colour.
"If Only Tonight We Could Sleep" is a dense, half-instrumental mood piece using sitar and off-kilter percussion reminiscent of Peter Gabriel or late Japan to conjure the semi-delirium of a hot night's insomnia.
The second side kicks off with "Why Can't I Be You" the not very good choice for lead-off single which failed - as did all the single releases - to crack the Top 20. Apparently inspired by an encounter with an excessive fan , it sets Smith's quasi-delirious vocal to frantic parping synth brass and a sub-Motown rhythm track that's very similar to The Jam's Town Called Malice. It has a certain bludgeoning catchiness which can't quite hide that it's just "The Lovecats" speeded up and essentially vacuous.
"Like Cockatoos" is a third person break-up story with an ominous bassline and sinister atonal guitar squall replicating the hideous squawk of the titular birds. The ending is particularly good , the Gothic keyboard melody approaching the majesty of Depeche's Walking In My Shoes.
"How Beautiful You Are" is basically a short story, Les Yeux des Pauvres by Baudelaire set to music wherein the narrator is shocked to discover his supposed soulmate doesn't have the same empathetic response to a distressing scene that he does. It makes me wonder if The Specials' Pearl's Cafe is based on the same source. It rests on Gallup's melodic bassline and Williams's big drums with piano , concertina and violin adding melodic colour. Smith's doleful vocal and the melancholy tune capture the correct note of shocked disillusion and it's one of the LP's highlights.
"Snakepit" is a seven minute grind with a subdued Indian melody winding beneath the squalling post-punk guitars and metronomic percussion. Smith mutters the two brief verses as an incantation. As an evocation of a bad trip it's impressive but not easy listening.
By contrast "Hey You!" is a brief throwaway with Smith trying to convince as a party animal over a Gallup bassline that should really have been saved for a better song and a nice sax break from Porl Thompson.
"Just Like Heaven " is possibly my favourite Cure song and their first Top 40 hit in the USA ( later covered by Dinosaur Jr ) . Written as a wedding present for Smith's wife Mary who briefly appeared in the video, it's a beautifully constructed Goth romance with Smith's best ever melodic guitar riff and a fabulous layered intro introducing each instrument in turn ( there's a hint of Public Image at the start ).
"All I Want" is a howling sex song with fairly blunt lyrics -"I want to hold you like a dog" although the melancholy keyboard melody and frustrated guitar suggest it won't be fulfilled.
"Hot Hot Hot !!!" was the fourth single, didn't make the Top 40 and is a contender for their worst '45, a white funk workout about drug use. Smith's Nile Rodgers impersonation on guitar is credible but the George Michael-isms in the vocal are embarrassing and it's all rather tuneless.
"One More Time" is a slow dream ballad owing something to The Cocteau Twins with plain lyrics pleading for some sort of high and a simple melodica tune floating on top of the circular guitars.
"Icing Sugar " kicks off the final single -less side in uncompromising fashion with punishing Atrocity Exhibition drums, Thompson's sax and a bassline that's close to the guitar riff on Echo Beach. Again , it's a long time before Smith comes in with some tuneless observations about cutting cocaine.
"The Perfect Girl" is a short self-explanatory song which calls to mind the Banshees's version of Dear Prudence ( which of course Smith played on ).
"A Thousand Hours" is a slow lament for wasted time with an OMD-ish keyboard line the calm before the storm of the last two confrontational tracks.
"Shiver and Shake" is a tuneless rant at someone , generally believed to be keyboardist Lol Tolhurst whose contribution to the band's music was rapidly diminishing though I don't suppose Smith told him that at the time. The music is turgid Goth-rock that could be any lesser light from The Bolshoi to Danse Society and it's pretty ugly whatever the inspiration might have been.
"Fight" is much more positive in outlook urging its subject to kick against the pricks and break out of depression although the music is an abrasive grind right up to its sudden ending.
The album trod water in the UK where it seemed like the band had hit a plateau in their popularity but was a significant success in the USA where "college rock " was starting to go overground. For me it was slightly disappointing as a double LP with few tracks that really stand up against their best work.