by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.
Lost in the mythology of the Cure -- the black clothes, black eye- makeup, black worldview -- is the fact that they've made some pretty memorable music since hitting the scene back in 1979. Sure, the hordes of waif-like adherents to the cult of Robert Smith always made you want not to like them, but his music always had something new and different about it. So it's a little weird that the band's Greatest Hits CD samples the jauntier songs from their repertoire. Smith, the iconic brains of the band, even has commented that he would like to see another greatest hits package filled with their darker songs.
Another weird thing about this package is that there are already two greatest hits Cure CDs (Staring at the Sea [1979-1985] and Galore [1987 and later]). To keep this one from seeming like something other than going to the well one more time, the band recorded all the songs acoustically. The Limited Edition offers a second CD with those tracks, recorded in a one-day "unplugged" session. In fact, that's what attracted me to the disc, but now that I've heard it, I have to say, don't bother. The new takes, with a couple exceptions, are almost exact duplicates, with some uneven guitar playing in place of the band's usual electric strumming.
And the choices here are frustrating. Two new studio songs ("Cut Me" and "Just Say Yes") take up space, but who decided the awful "Never Enough" is a greatest hit? Meanwhile, truly great songs like "Fascination Street" and "Pictures of You," from Disintegration, are missing, as are early gems like "10:15 Saturday Night" and "Primary." That's not to say this collection isn't a good overview, especially if you haven't been Cured yet. "Boys Don't Cry" is as perfect a first single hit as any band could hope for, and "Close to Me" is a classic -- with a wicked trumpet solo to boot! And a later song, "Friday I'm in Love" is still catchy after all these listens.
Your best bet? For about the same price as the Limited Edition version of Greatest Hits, pick up Staring at the Sea and Galore, which contain more greatest hits. And if you want different takes on the classics, try Mixed Up, which gives a handful of these songs the extended treatments they need.