More Cure deluxe editions

Following the 2005 releases of 2-CD deluxe editions of the first four Cure albums, Elektra has now released three more this week. The Top (1984), The Head On The Door (1985), and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987) are the three latest Cure albums to receive the expanded treatment. The first disc of each set contains a remastered version of the proper album. The second disc of each set contains a lengthy set of bonus tracks, mostly consisting of related demos and live recordings culled from bootlegs. These deluxe editions are mainly geared toward Cure fanatics.

The Top has been out of print in the U.S. for some time, so it is good to have it available again in some form. This album was recorded at a time when leader Robert Smith had temporarily become a member of Siouxsie and the Banshees as well as the Cure, and his health suffered as a result. On The Top, Smith is noticeably stressed out, seemingly unable to decide if he wanted to stay with the Cure's earlier doom-and-gloom approach or move in a more accessible direction. The resulting album is drenched in the type of moody atmosphere that marked the Cure's albums from the early '80's, but with the type of polished production that was displayed on Japanese Whispers-era recordings. This album seems to divide Cure devotees between those who love it and those who hate it. I tend to lean toward the former. The Top is a mess, but it's certainly not a boring one.

The Head On The Door was the Cure's commercial breakthrough, and it stands as one of their finest achievements. On this album, Smith and company reduced the noise level, and accomplished the balance between gloom and pop that they seemed to be hinting at on The Top. "In Between Days" was a New Order-like pop gem that became their first hit single. "Close To Me" was a playful low-key delight. The album's moodier songs are presented with a subtlety never before (never since?) heard on a Cure album.

Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me was an enthusiastic continuation of Smith's expanding sensibilities, containing 72 minutes of eclecticism and accessibility. It contains the classics "Just Like Heaven" and "Why Can't I Be You?", and 15 other tracks of Smith and company aggressively exploring new ground. It's a strong album that probably defines the Cure's career more than any other individual album, although its experimental qualities make it less consistent than The Head On The Door.

Will I be buying any of these pricey reissues? I might purchase The Top for the sake of replacing my old cassette copy. But expanded editions in general tend to be redundant. Much as I love The Head On The Door, I'm not particularly interested in hearing the demos. And as much as I like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, 72 minutes of it is enough for me. There are some Cure fanatics who want to hear and own every recorded second of Robert Smith's work, but if I ever had such tendencies, the Join The Dots box set has Cured me of them.

It is worth noting that the 1983 release Japanese Whispers does not seem to be slated for such a reissue. It may be because it was not so much a proper album as a collection of singles and EP tracks from its period. Either that, or they couldn't find enough bonus tracks for it (well, okay, maybe it's silly to suggest that...). Japanese Whispers remains out of print in the U.S., but its three key tracks ("Let's Go To Bed", "The Walk", "Lovecats") are currently available on compilations. If you must have the other five tracks, Japanese Whispers is obtainable as a German import.

Interestingly enough, a deluxe edition has also been released of the obscure 1983 album Blue Sunshine by the Glove, a short-lived side project by Smith and Steve Severin of Siouxsie and the Banshees. (Ol' Robert was quite a busy guy at point, wasn't he?). Most of the vocal duties on the album were handled by a singer named Jeanette Landray. This album was previously only available on CD in Germany. I haven't heard it, and it may be worthwhile for me to check it out, since the deluxe edition costs about the same as the German import, and has a whole disc's worth of bonus tracks as well.

So, how much further do you think they'll go with these expanded Cure reissues? It's easy to imagine Disintegration (1989) getting the deluxe treatment; such long-lost supplemental items as Entreat and Integration contain plenty of tracks for a bonus disc. But if they go so far as to release 2-CD editions of Wish (1992), Wild Mood Swings (1996), and Bloodflowers (2000), even fanatics may feel Cured to death in the end.