Dancing has always been a big thing for me, my limitless enthusiasm for it being in direct inverse proportion to my abilities. Actually I’m being far too modest there, I am in fact the finest untrained dancer of my generation. So good in fact that my dancing ability is only exceeded by my wondrous ability to self choreograph. True. You know the Sister Sledge song ‘He’s The Greatest Dancer’? they wrote that about me. Double true.
In fact the 1537 Top 4 songs to dance to ever-with-elaborate-self-choreographed-routines are (in reverse order):
- The Cult – Rain : Routine involves very sexy wavy hand dance, especially during the ‘hot sticky scenes’ line.
- Soft Cell – Tainted Love: Routine involves elaborate, yet deeply sexy hand waving bit during the ‘I gave you all a boy could give’ line.
- Dee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart: Possibly my favourite single ever. Routine involves me waving my hands around in a sexy manner and pointing to my chosen mate during the ‘How could I dance with another’ line.
- The Cure – The Lovecats: Routine involves waving my hands around in a generally sexy manner and can, on occasion, involve ‘jazz hands’.
Here I am still in happy sunny music mode and I find myself reaching for The Cure Standing On A Beach, their singles collection from 1986. For some The Cure mean dense, impressionistic, gloomy tunes, introverted, tortured lyrics and albums like Disintegration and Pornography; not for me, that bores me daft. Sorry. I know some of you out there in the Midwestern US may already have booked ‘plane tickets to Liverpool after reading that, for the express purpose of beating me unconscious with a 180g red vinyl copy of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me in the hope that act of tough love helps me to see sense and I freely admit that my views are ill-informed nonsense based on listening to them once 70 years ago. But …
For me The Cure were purveyors of jolly, slightly wonky Lewis Carroll pop kicks like ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Close To Me’ that we used to throw ourselves around indie discos to back in the day. A friend of mine, Christian, told me that the reason The Cure did songs like ‘The Lovecats’ and ‘The Caterpillar’ was because the band and management used them to cheer Robert Smith up out of various drug-induced depressive hazes and sulks – whether that’s true or not, I have no idea, but I do like the concept. They certainly make me happy. Maybe if Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley or Nick Drake had someone around them encouraging them to write a happy pop song about a butterfly, rock history would have been a bit cheerier.
- Nirvana – Smells Like Lepidoptera (‘Load up on pollen and bring your friends …)
- Alice In Chains – Rain When I Fly
- Nick Drake – Butterflyter Layter
I love every second of Standing On A Beach. Starting with the, controversial in its’ time, ‘Killing An Arab’ which is a gloriously homemade attempt at encapsulating the ennui and indifference of an uncaring world as related by Albert Camus in L’etranger. Four months on The Cure released their first nugget of pop genius, ‘Boys Don’t Cry’, still a bit ramshackle but has a glorious tune. I have real affection for the next two tracks though, the scathing ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ with its’ fabulous train rhythm* and the moody, atmospheric ‘A Forest’**, which features some very simple, effective guitar from Robert Smith.
The real pay off on this album for me are the last four tracks, ‘The Lovecats’, ‘The Caterpillar’, ‘In Between days’ and ‘Close To Me’. The bass line on ‘The Lovecats’ is just a thing of rare beauty and delight all of its own, add Smith’s vocals and the bits that go ‘ba ba ba ba ba ba ba-ba-ba’ and I’m in ecstasy; this song is so good that I don’t think it could even be improved by the addition of a talkie bit in the middle and I don’t say that either very often, or lightly. ‘The Caterpillar’ is all skittering chirpiness, James and The Giant Peach, off-kilter happiness that treads that fine line between merriment and mania, between childlike and developmentally arrested; cleverly judged. ‘In Between days’, is a neat little nugget too, I love it when bands sing really sad/disturbing lyrics to a really upbeat tune, maybe I’m just not very sophisticated but I fall for the jaunty tune every single time. ‘Close To Me’ goes for a sparse, claustrophobic-but-fun delivery and floors me every time I hear it, everything in the music is perfectly weighted and restrained, understated even until the brass (or brass effect keys) cut in.
So there you have it, I can see the headlines tomorrow in all the quality papers, The Cure In Happy Pop Probe; 1537 Strikes Again. I’ve had a lot of fun to the tunes on this record, dancing to them, listening to them in my friend Paul’s garden when his parents were away whilst having my first pint of the day … at 10am (we were 17!) and it all comes through listening to it again today. I remember my taped copy at the time had this on one side and Smashed Gladys on the other. Those were the days.
Plus even if you hated the music, how could you fail to love an album with the following lyrics (from ‘The Lovecats’, natch):
Hand in hand
Is the only way to land
And always the right way round
Not broken in pieces
Like hated little meeces
The pieces / meeces line is worth maximum 1537 bonus points at least!
*borrowed from / influenced by Buzzcocks ‘Late For The Train’ ?
**I know, I know, Mr Hypocrite.