Sunday, August 20, 2006
Written by Fantasma el Rey
The Glove, legendary side project of The Cure’s Robert Smith and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Steven Severin gets the deluxe treatment on this remastered two-disk set. The reissue of this album is another installment in the series of Cure albums being given the same deluxe treatment: bonus tracks on the first disk and a second disk of rarities from the same time period. Each two-disk set provides insight into the band’s history and musical stages; every album released so far, as well as the ones to follow, are a dream wonderland for fans of The Cure.
And as far as wonderlands go, The Glove’s sound is very psychedelic and dream-like at times, which is exactly what Smith and Severin set out to do with this project. Meeting sometime in 1979, it took our heroes a few years to finally get something together. Both had an interest in recording material such as this, yet the original thought was that they might just put out a single or two but with those two brilliant minds together an album’s worth of songs was easy to create.
It wasn’t until 1983 when it all came together and the two began to come up with songs to record. Due to contractual reasons, Smith was only allowed two vocal tracks, so our boys had to find themselves a lead singer. After a few auditions, they settled on a woman who never sang professionally before: Jeanette Landray, girlfriend of “Budgie”, the Banshees’ drummer. So, armed with a drum machine, synthesizer and other instruments new to them, such as the sitar and dulcimer, the studio was entered and recording began.
Blue Sunshine opens strong with the single release, “Like An Animal”, about a man dropping heavy objects from a high-rise onto those passing below. Sitar and falling/swirling effects aside, the thick-yet-simple music is what likens this track so much to the sound of New Order, who had begun to make the scene just a year or so before, rising from the ashes of Joy Division. The odd plops and plucks of from the newly utilized instruments give The Glove the psychedelic feel they were after, while losing none of the drive of the tune.
“Looking Glass Girl” slows the pace a bit and brings to mind the Banshees’ “Dear Prudence”. Smith and Severin were trying to avoid that “The Cure meet the Banshees” vibe, a difficult task considering they were instrumental in the creation of each band’s sound. The connection to their previous work is reinforced by Landray’s vocals. Not that she sounds so much like Siouxsie Sioux, but there’s that feeling of forlorn detachment in her delivery. “Sex-Eye-Make-Up” sounds most like something from the three previous Cure records with a dark, creeping feeling of a gloomy, gothic late night. The powerful guitar breaks The Cure mold and adds some flavor.
Smith makes his first vocal appearance on Severin’s “Mr. Alphabet Says”, a tune that has a solid, steady-pounding piano that jumps at times. He returns on the self-penned “Perfect Murder”. Rather than sing, his delivery is more a screech and wail. The song foreshadows where he will be taking The Cure in a just a over a year with The Head On The Door.
“A Blues In Drag”, the first of two instrumentals, is a slow, piano-led number with weeping strings alongside, a perfect mid-album track that sets up the following song very well. “Punish Me With Kisses” has a strong Joy Division sound a la Closer. The lyrics are awesome with lines about truly being punished by kisses, such as “your morning smile of torture/ holds me in its grip” and “to stay would be too dangerous/ to break the make believe”. I’m sure most of us, for reasons good or bad, have been somewhere or with someone that we should not have and felt torn to stay or go. Stay and hurt them or yourself or go for those same reasons. That’s why we’re drawn to this music and these bands to begin with.
The proper album closes with the odd instrumental “Relax”. A very psychedelic, moody track with a sense of foreboding that provides the perfect ending, yet at the same time seeming very much like the beginning of something, reminding me of the intros to modern Cure shows.
The bonus tracks to disk one include the instrumental “The Man From Nowhere”, which is a spy-movie-inspired little ditty that plays as an interlude between tracks. “Mouth To Mouth” should have been included on the album, it’s one of the stronger up-tempo songs that would have made the final product that much more potent. The last track on the CD is a very danceable club mix of “Like an Animal”. The sitar along with the drum machine is kicked into a gypsy frenzy, a very enjoyable closing track and farewell to disk one.
Disk two of The Glove is the “what could have been” CD. It contains Smith’s vocals on the albums demos before the suits got involved. We hear him expand his vocal range with more pep, albeit a dark pep, screeches, and sound effects, while keeping to his low seething, subdued anger on other tracks. There are more traces of the future Cure sound in these demos.
Smith’s vocals do make some of the tracks stronger; however, they obviously give the songs more of a Cure feel. It is very cool but at the same time, that would have made The Glove just another Cure album. Looking back, it is better that Smith only sang on two tracks. Landray’s vocals and delivery of them give The Glove a life of its own, making it more enjoyable. When we hear Smith sing on the album, we’re glad to hear him, but his vocals don’t stand out as much from the work that he has done in the past.
If he had sung on the entire album, it would have been The Head On The Door two albums early, making you wonder what would have been The Cure’s future? Would fans have been ready for that sound in 1983? Demos tend to subdue the sounds of bands. On the finished product would those sounds have been brought to the fore? Then again these are only demos, so anything could have happened.
The world is full of “what-ifs” and it seems that either way The Glove’s Blue Sunshine would have been enjoyable to hear. As it stands both versions included on this new set are good and stand apart from one another. Both have their high points, disk two is more of a lost treasure whereas disk one I like a bit more for the fact that it sounds, even though they tried not to, like a blend of The Cure and the Banshees due to the female lead vocals.
So there you have it ghoulies, go out and find this one, if you haven’t already done so. Sit back and enjoy, what is and what could have been. Feel free to draw back into your mind and ponder questions of your own and see where it leaves you.