Ghost Hunting Groups Uk

by admin on May 14, 2010

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Confessions of a Curehead

Robert Smith turns fifty this month, yes, that’s how old we’re all getting, King Curehead clocks the half century, happy birthday Bobby-boy ya made it. Back in the late 1970s it didn’t look that way, did it? In fact, you wouldn’t have put all your pennies on the whole Gothic Rock genre lasting to blow the fifty candles. Robert Smith is often accused of being Goth’s chief architect, an accusation that he quite rightly debunks as lazy journalism, The Cure were far more in some ways and far less in others, either way it was not simply Gothic. The original members of The Cure met in the rather snooty sounding Notre Dame Middle School in the rather not so snooty sounding Crawley, Sussex. They formed bands named Obelisk and Malice, various members dropping in and out, a habit that would continue through the decades, creating a mind-boggling array of personnel in countless manifestations. Realistically, only the curest of Curehead is going to be very bothered with who was in when, the only thing you really need to know it that Robert Smith was always at the helm. He had assumed vocal duties when the band had settled on the name Easy Cure and had assumed control when he simply chopped off Easy and added The – now they were The Cure. Relative success came early with the German record label Hansa offering them a recording contract, Smith’s unwavering desire for complete creative control also came early when he dissolved the contract after Hansa began pressurizing the band into recording covers.

Working now as just a trio – Smith, Lol Tolhurst and Michael Dempsey recorded sessions at Chesnut Studios in Sussex and sent the demo tapes off to all the major labels. What a first effort it was! containing the tracks Boys Don’t Cry, Fire in Cairo, It’s Not You and 10.15.With what you would assume some confidence they waited and duly Chris Parry signed them to his Fiction label in September 1978. Their debut single, Killing an Arab was released that December; the critics tumbled over one another to fling garlands at the band’s black feet. Of course, of course notoriety was also flung in their black faces when National Front dizzies turned up at gigs to pay homage to a racist masterpiece, not surprising that none of them had ever prised open Camus, and therefore the true meaning floated over their small, skint heads. The Cure’s hotly anticipated debut album, Three Imaginary Boys was released in May 1979, it was quite bizarre; containing no song titles and a cover that featured nothing but a fridge, hoover and a lampshade. The critics were divided, Melody Maker gushing ‘that the eighties start here’, but with Paul Morley of the NME lambasting its pretentiousness. Robert Smith was not too concerned with what any of them thought, he simply hated it, resenting the creative control that Parry and engineer Mike Hedges had on the album. He viewed it as being too poppy and not representative of the dark and cynical elements of the band.

The second single Boy’s Don’t Cry, was released in June but rather surprisingly, even after it was universally praised by critics, it failed to capture the public’s attention to any great extent. In September 1978, the band embarked on a nationwide tour with Siouxsie and The Banshees, it was to prove to be a monumental turning point for The Cure. When Siouxsie’s guitarist John McKay quit the band, Smith was drafted in to fulfil his duties for the rest of the tour, the experience of playing The Banshees songs live changed his perceptions of what type of band The Cure should be. Smith was convinced that the band’s direction had to change, Michael Dempsey disagreed and was summarily sacked, Smith outlining the modus operandi of the band, it was his way or the highway, simple as that. Simon Gallup from The Associates was drafted in to replace Dempsey while Matthieu Hartley also from The Associates was brought in on keyboards. In nearly 1980, new look The Cure entered the studio to begin work on their second album. The resulting work, Seventeen Seconds was very different from their debut, being heavily influenced by Berlin Bowie, Nick Drake and of course Siouxsie and The Banshees. It was a morose, moody, bleak album with minimalist melodies; clocking in at little over the half hour mark. It divided the critics, but it also had the effect of eking out an original niche for the band with their new sound and burgeoning anti-image attracting attention.


Just one single was taken from the album – A Forest, it was more upbeat than any other track but it was to become a song that became associated with the sound of The Cure, it secured the band their first slot on Top of the Pops. The band embarked on a gruelling world tour to promote the album, during which Smith and Hartley began to differ on some issues, on their return to England, Hartley quit. If Seventeen Seconds had being dark, their third album Faith was positively pitch and it wasn’t just for effect, the mood of the band was ominously becoming darker and darker, the triangle tightening, excluding all others and invariably putting pressure on the angles. It was met with loathing and disgust at what was perceived as shallow and pretentious; achieving exactly what Smith had desired, he was cutting his own furrow away from the masses, ergo let the masses deride if they wished. It was a tough road to take, touring the album, singing the melancholy songs night in, night out; had the effect of driving the band further and further into the black. Smith became completely engrossed in his stage persona, refusing requests for older songs, often breaking down in tears, it was dangerous ground indeed. Their subsequent non-album single Charlotte Sometimes featured Smith’s girlfriend and future wife on the sleeve but the picture was completely indecipherable; there appeared to be no joy in The Cure’s world. Smith became mired in a world of drugs, Lol Tolhurst’s mother died but the gruelling tour to promote the album continued, these were grim days indeed.

The band made it back to Britain after the Faith tour, tattered and battered, audiences had not reacted well to the quasi-religious, sombre, morbid gigs; the band were on a downward spiral and flying headlong into a deepening depression. However, Robert Smith was still persisting to fulfil his austere vision, stating that the new album would be called Pornography, hardly the sunny escape route that the band needed. Smith was in an abysmal state, a wreck, he was incapable of expressing his ideas to the rest of the band. Indeed, the rest of the band were bugging him, it appeared to him that no-one else was willing to fling themselves as deep into his hellish nightmare as he was and he reckoned that as a band, everyone should be on board. Obviously the record was no barrel of laughs, an uncompromising, bloody swathe that cut through the New Romantic scene and all it’s larks and giggles, Smith was wielding the axe like a crazed lunatic, hunting down and strangling any elements of moral hypocrisy in his path. The album opened with the cheery line ‘It doesn’t matter if we all die’, it was widely panned, it was in no way commercial but yet it broke the UK Top Ten; could it be that Smith was tapping into a hidden public consciousness of despair? He admitted in retrospect that he was monstrous at the time of Pornography, but it is true to say that he achieved his nihilist vision, the album is now viewed as one of the greatest Gothic masterpieces ever created.

 Pornography (1982) was a masterpiece, true, but that did not matter a jot to the band at the time. Dwelling in a suspended reality with detractors on all sides they faced the torment of a world tour to promote the album which was called the Fourteen Explicit Moments Tour. It was far from pleasant, the band crawled further into their tiny triangle, painting their faces white, their eyes red, which had the grotesque effect when the heat was on that they appeared to be weeping blood, it was all very hideous as it was not intended as light relief, comedy or perhaps even for effect, it was more like detaching themselves further and further from the baying masses. The mounting pressure of the past years finally shattered the triangle, towards the end of the tour Simon Gallup and Smith became involved in fisticuffs with Gallup subsequently quitting the band. It seemed that The Cure were no more, bizarrely Smith took off into the Welsh mountains camping while Tolhurst decided that he would like to learn the piano, you couldn’t script this stuff. The owner of their label, Chris Parry, watched gold-fished mouthed as his prize investment was going down the drain, he somehow managed to persuade Smith to record a pop song to bury the ghost of Pornography-era The Cure. Smith bought into it but perhaps more with the idea of burying The Cure entirely, full stop and escaping the nightmare that had spawned thousands of worshippers to his ’cause.’

The result was the 1982 single Let’s Go To Bed which was the complete opposite of what The Cure had stood for, surprisingly therefore (or perhaps unsurprisingly) it was a minor hit, despite the fact that Smith had publicly derided and ridiculed the song. Despite it’s relative success, Smith appeared still disinterested, abandoning The Cure or at least abandoning Tolhurst who was the only other member left, and re-joining The Banshees. However in July 1983, The Cure apparently out of no-where released another single The Walk which broke the Top Twenty and then in October of that year repeated the trick with the classic Love Cats becoming a UK Top Ten. All of these singles and their B-sides were collected on the end of year compilation album Japanese Whispers. Fans were confused, Smith receiving countless amounts of hate mail for not maintaining The Cure’s ‘weirdness’, which he rallied against as ridiculous. It was his band, he could do what he liked, and he did so, appearing with both The Cure and The Banshees on the Christmas edition of Top of the Pops, obviously really driving his acolytes crazy, was that the intended effect? They felt they were owed something more, after all they had followed him into hell with Pornography, was he simply going to leave them there? He continued his artistic schizoid wanderings, working on albums for both bands in early 1984. Proof in the pudding that The Cure was Robert Smith, was in the fact that he played all instruments except drums and saxophone on the resulting album The Top (1984).

The Top

(1984), although their least performed album, was a definitive turning point for the band and was a Top Ten hit in the UK. They embarked on a world tour to promote the album, the new line-up featuring Smith, Tolhurst, a retuning Porl Thompson (last seen with The Cure pre-Three Imaginary Boys), Andy Anderson on drums and producer turned bassist Phil Tornalley. The tour was markedly different from previous The Cure efforts, they even found time to record their first live album, Concert. However, Smith was still willing to wield the axe firing Anderson for continuous unruly behaviour while Tornalley left, finding the rigours of the road too much to bear. Boris Williams replaced the former on drums while Simon Gallup returned on bass, The Cure were The Cure again. In 1985, they released their sixth LP The Head on the Door, it brought international attention to the group, helped massively by the two stand out singles, In Between Days and Close to Me. The band were fast becoming superstars, everything appearing to go their way, although behind the scenes, the band was still in some turmoil, with both Smith and Tolhurst still terribly hedonistic, the latter proving unable to work much of the time. The tour played to huge crowds throughout the world, Curehead disciples spreading like wildfire, Smith still trying desperately to stop the worship, shaving his head soon after a fan had repeatedly stabbed himself at a gig in LA. Immediately, after the tour, the band de-camped to the south of France to record new material. The itinerary was ruthless, recording a song a day, as were the excesses., Tolhurst blew, returning to England, leaving the rest of the group to it.

Madcappery continued, Smith mixing the record with producer Dave Allen in the Bahamas, then Brussels, then Ireland, releasing the single Why Can’t I be With You?, before departing for riot ridden gigs in South America, then in April 1987 releasing the double album, Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me. It was a tour de force, covering all aspects of The Cure’s very varied life and times, from the darkest corners to the most glittering, starry regions. At times, it was melodic, bubbly and affirming, telling us The Cure had survived and were somehow content; at other times, it was gothic, broodind andf gloomy, telling us The Cure had survived but were broken. Both views were wrong, The Cure were The Cure, out on their own, they had achieved mainstream success on their own terms, doing things their way, the masses had followed them, miraculously, for the route had been far from easy. They spent the rest of 1987, delivering their ‘message’ to the worshipping masses, taking on yet another member, Roger O’Donnell on keyboards somewhere along the way. The official line was to further flesh out their sound but leaks from within indicated that he was being used to cover Tolhurst’s continued downward spiral. In 1988, The Cure gave the masses a break, before bringing them all through it again, with Disintegration (1989), a slight return to their bleakness but not completely, it was epic and soaring and bizarrely hopeful, yes it was lauding the dark but it offered hope, The Cure had been here before, they knew their way out.


(1989) was perhaps a reminder to all recent Cureheads of what the band were really about. Many had come aboard following the massive selling The Head on the Door (1985) and Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me (1987); halcyon days for hardened veterans of the band, the new arrivals needed a taster, luckily only a taster of the bleakness of the early days and they got it with Disintegration. But The Cure had been to the brink once before and had mapped their way back, the fans were in safe hands, they’d be brought there but they’d also be brought back. The record was simply massive, selling over three million records, achieving three top 30 singles in the UK and Germany while one of it’s singles Lovesong reached number 2 in America. Unfortunately, Tolhurst didn’t make it, Smith was forced to fire him as his contribution to the band had become null and void. Following the mammoth success of Disintegration, the band perhaps at long last satisfied, content or maybe exhausted, appeared to relax, their next album proper would be their 1992 release Wish, in the meantime O’Donnell had quit and had being replaced with Percy Bamonte. Wish was to further entrench The Cure into the mainstream, the record reaching Number 1 in the UK and Number 2 in the US, of course many of the life-long Cureheads were horrified that their ‘secret’ was being leaked out. It was inevitable, it is such a catchy recorded, swamped with poppy hooks and catchy melodies. The subsequent Wish tour was lengthy, sprawling and spawned two live albums Show (1993) and Paris (1993).

 Wish (1992) was to be the band’s major commercial peak, as the band chopped and changed with Thompson and Williams leaving, O’Donnell returning and Jason Cooper being drafted in on drums. The following album, Wild Mood Swings (1996) received poor reviews, perhaps because Smith seemed happier than ever, perhaps the hardened Cureheads just simply couldn’t take the unbridled joy of the vanilla pop, strawberry happy single Mint Car. Non-believers! Smith wasn’t finished yet, marking the millennium in far from fine fettle, proclaiming Blood flowers (2000) as marking the concluding part of a trilogy of albums that commenced with Pornography (1982) and included Disintegration (1989). Smith was sombre once again, the critics and Cureheads danced in the streets, hailing a return to form. It was sadly to be their last record with their long standing and long suffering label Fiction, in 2003 they signed with Geffen and released their twelfth album, The Cure in 2004. It was met with favourable reviews and debuted at number 8 in the UK and number 9 in the US. Smith was still hungry, he unceremoniously fired Roger O’Donnell and Perry Bamonte from the band, re-employed Porl Thompson and began work on the album 4:13 Dream which was released in October 2008. And so The Cure plough on far from finished, thirteen albums and thirty years and they are still unbowed, uncompromising and adamant as ever. They were one of the first alternative rock to break into the mainstream and achieve chart and commercial success, admirably they did it without once playing by the prescribed rules.

About the Author

Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt,

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