PUBLISHED IN SIDE-LINE MAGAZINE
The Cure - The Top / The Head On the Door (dcd Rhino/Fiction)
Rhino's latest batch of The Cure's reissues are "The Top" and "The Head On the Door." Each dcd set includes the remastered originals and a rarities disc filled with previously unreleased material including home demos, studio demos and live bootleg tracks. Produced by The Cure's frontman and mastermind, Robert Smith. Both albums boast superb sound quality compared to the lackluster original cds released in the late eighties (that contained warnings like "this cd may reveal limitations of the source tape.") "The Top," originally released in 1984, is one of the Cure's most experimental and deranged sounding records with Smith experimenting in different vocal styles, such as his soulful, almost Motown-sounding croon on "Piggy In the Mirror."
Most impressive of the remastered versions is also of one of Smith's personal favorites, "Shake Dog Shake," sounding just as thunderous and violent as when The Cure play it live. "Give Me It" is just as manically intense with Smith's lyrics now more decipherable. The rarities disc from "The Top" features even more for the die-hard Cure fan. "Ariel" which has appeared on a number of Cure bootleg collections now gets the official release that it deserves. "Forever" recorded live in France in '84, is another fine gem with some intense sax bleats from Porl Thompson. Also included are studio sessions with just Smith playing all of the instruments and Andy Anderson on drums. Thankfully Smith has chosen to include the more unusual, rarely performed live tracks from "The Top" tour, including "Bananafishbones" named after a J.D. Salinger short story, and "The Top." At the end of 1984 Robert Smith was pushing himself to a mental meltdown while simultaneously fronting The Cure and also playing guitar for Siouxsie and the Banshees. It's not surprising then that "The Top" sounds somewhat schizophrenic and chaotic. In 1985, Smith had reformed the Cure with the strongest line-up yet with Simon Gallup back on bass, Porl Thompson on guitars, Boris Williams on drums, and Lol Tolhurst now on keyboards.
The Cure released "The Head On the Door," named after a nightmare that Smith had when he was a small boy. This is one of the best pop-oriented records that The Cure has ever released. It leads off with the bouncey, quintessential "In Between Days." From every vibrant percussive fill in the "Kyoto Song" to every claustrophobic finger snap and hand clap of "Close to Me" this disc truly kicks ass compared to the original hollow-sounding 1985 cd version. The "Head On The Door" rarities disc contains mostly live and studio demos of songs that would later appear on "Head on the Door." "Mansolidgone" starts off with Smith scatting like a jazz maniac which turns into an embryonic version of the B-side "A Man Inside My Mouth." "Lime Time" is a slower stripped down version of "Six Different Ways." The real treasure on this rarities disc is the home demo of "In Between Days" and ramped up live songs from The Head Tour. "The Baby Screams" is much faster and frantic. The final live song that ends the collection is a phenomenal version of "Sinking," which foreshadows the territory that The Cure would explore on 1989's "Disintegration." Overall, upgrading your old copies of "The Top" and "Head On the Door" to the new slick remastered digipack sets is worth the investment, even if it makes you cry to have to dispose of your precious originals. (CH:8)CH.