The Cure
Join The Dots: B-Sides & Rarities 1978-2001
2004
A-



massive hair. Smudged lipstick. Huge trainers. Forget about all that; it's bollocks. Stylistically iconic as such things may be, they've long since fallen into the overflowing 'Cure review cliché' bin. In fact, I probably shouldn't have even mentioned them at all. Drat.

Fortunately, there are 4 CDs-worth of gorgeous tunes lovingly gathered from Robert Smith's attic to distract attention away from my awful faux-pas. And let's make it absolutely clear that Bob's attic is probably neither 'dark' nor 'spooky' and could well be relatively free of cobwebs. It is also quite possible that the scariest things he has up there are a half-finished IKEA table and some old Christmas decorations. Not that I have a problem with the 'gothic' tag, you understand. It's just that The Cure have always had so much more to offer than such lazy pigeonholing often suggests; something amply demonstrated by this long-awaited collection of b-sides and rarities.

Prior to this release, fans wanting to track down some of the more elusive cuts featured here would have needed an epic disposable income to purchase a myriad of old CDs and vinyl; or access to more nefarious mp3-acquiring methods. MP3s are sick, wrong and akin to terrorism though. Or so the RIAA tells me. Let us celebrate, then, that we can now hear these marvellous songs without having to resort to such horrors.

Spin the CDs. Immerse yourself. Discover multi-faceted offerings that previously had to jostle for space with more commercial A-side material. Be jarred by nervous post-punk Cure (“Pillbox Tales”), drift away somewhere special with weird druggy Cure (“Lament”), hide under the bed from doom-laden existential (yes, even gothic) Cure (“Fear of Ghosts”), bask in the enveloping warmth of lovely guitar melody Cure (“Halo”). You get the idea. Sure, there are a couple of questionable remixes and the rather limp “Dredd Song”; but this boxed set stays firmly attached to the magical tree of quality that grows only in the twilight garden of all things lush. Where necessary, tracks have been deftly remastered and genuinely sound fresher. Juicier. More mouth-watering than ever. This is especially evident on some of the older cuts; “Splintered in Her Head” perfectly foreshadows the stagnant, drum-heavy gloom that would infest Pornography, and the more minimalist “New Day”, with one of Smith’s most yearning vocal performances ever, is a joy to hear through headphones.

Amazingly, this is not an exhaustive collection. There are yet more rarities to come from the Cure archives - on bonus discs set to be included with future album reissues. Meanwhile though, this selection provides an impressive overview of the often inspired alternative cuts from a band who’ve always done things their own way.

Although clearly of more interest to rabid Cure nuts, Join the Dots is enough to bring joy (or, indeed, heartbreak) into anyones life. The lavish booklet-and-CDs-all-in-one package features little snippets of info from Robert Smith and Simon Gallup about each and every track, as well as a veritable gallery of photos - including the image of a youthful Robert wearing a charmingly bizarre string-vest and Rupert Bear trousers combo. Not a hint of mascara in sight.
Reviewed by: Peter Parrish
Reviewed on: 2004-03-01
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