The Cure – ‘Disintegration (re-issue)’ (Fiction)
How do you write objectively about an album by your favourite band ever, that’s your second favourite album ever, that you feel is pretty bloody amazing? Well, yes, this is going to be a rave review, so if you don’t care for the band and/or the album, this is not going to change your mind. But given that this week the no.1 album in the UK is the re-issued Exile On Main Street from the Rolling Stones, re-issues seem to be making the news.
But dammit, this is how a re-issue ought to be put together. Having fallen from favour in the nineties, The Cure reached a new stage in the last decade where acts as diverse as Mogwai, Razorlight and The Rapture declared them an influence, where they were seen as godfathers of post-punk and continued to record new albums. Granted, these tend to be about four years apart (and I would love to see them play Scotland again!), but given that Robert Smith is now fifty-one, slack should be cut.
This was the Cure’s eighth album back in 1989 (it’s ironic that at around £12 for a triple CD that’s quite possibly what many people would have paid for a copy of the album on CD then, and conceivably more) and many have considered it to be The Cure’s finest. In time Smith has considered it to be part of a trilogy with 1982’s Pornography and 2000’s Bloodflowers. (When I heard the latter on its’ release ten years ago, I really assumed that was their grand finale, and I’m delighted that’s not proved to be the case). It was a commercial and critical success and provided the band with their highest charting singles so far -‘Lullaby’ reaching no.5 in the UK, and ‘Lovesong’ reaching no.2 in the US.
Yes, it’s dark in many places, but it’s epic and sublime. Bizarrely, given that the original version omitted two tracks on the vinyl ‘Last Dance’ and ‘Homesick’ it’s one of the very few albums I would prefer to have on CD than vinyl (though I own both, surprise, surprise). What the re-issue has is not only the original album remastered, but a CD of genuine rarities (not b-sides but never before released versions of tracks and demos of the b-sides) and a third CD, entitled Entreat Plus. Entreat was originally an eight track album of live performances at Wembley Arena in the summer of 1989 on the Prayer tour which accompanied the release of the album. This has now been expanded to feature all twelve album tracks from the album in order.
Is this obssessive? Well, maybe, but the fact is that the deluxe editions are genuinely produced for those who consider themselves fans rather than someone who’s just buying the album because they like one or two tracks from it (and in this age of iTunes etc.. that’s got to be becoming a progressively rarer occurence). The sleeve notes are well put together and provide insights into the album that I wasn’t aware of; including that Lol Tolhurst did make more of a contribution to the album than often given credit for (though he left after hearing the playback), how a fire nearly destroyed all of Smith’s lyrics on the first night at the studio and how the record company thought it was commercial suicide.
The original album still thrills from the wind-chime like opening of ‘Plainsong’ to the dying harmonium coda on ‘Untitled.’ This is a band firing on all cylinders, producing their masterpiece. And the minisite they have put together for this re-issue is truly phenomenal. And some of the greatest lyrics Smith has ever written.
21 years on, this still packs a truly emotional punch.
The re-issue of Disintegration is out now on Fiction.