Kronomyth 14.0: SHOW ME SHOW ME SHOW ME THE MONEY. If you wished every Cure album sounded like their last, this just goes to Show you that some Wishes do come true. The band’s Highly successful (sorry, I’ll stop doing that) Wish was followed by a world tour that was chronicled on two live discs: Show and Paris. This is the story of Show, which heavily favors selections from Wish. In fact, the album is conceived as a kind of Live Wish, featuring eight of that album’s 12 tracks including a replica of its beginning (“Open,” “High”) and ending (“Cut,” “End”). Mixed in are a handful of popular Cure songs from the past including “Just Like Heaven,” “Pictures of You,” “Inbetween Days” and “Lullaby.” Although the studio was always a sympathetic canvas for The Cure, the band does a standup job of capturing the moodiness and the giddiness of their music on stage. It’s a very clean Show, with little banter in between and a carefully controlled crowd that sounds suspiciously like canned white noise. Despite the superior sound quality and steadfast loyalty to the originals, two double CDs dedicated to one tour is one two-disc set too many by my math. Fans may be tickled pink to find themselves at such a deep, full trough of The Cure and wish that every tour had such an homage; the rest of us will move quietly ahead to Wild Mood Swings and try not to stare at the wreckage that must be these releases’ inevitable collision with reality. Very few bands have attempted the double double-live release (Genesis’ The Way We Walk comes to mind), and all have battled apathy from their broader fan base as a result. Whether Show and Paris kept the flame alive a little while longer or left fans who bought them feeling burned, The Cure’s next album received a cooler reception than usual, and you can’t help but wonder if the overmarketed Wish was partly to blame.
The idea of the leading gothic, industrial and punk/metal bands contributing new tracks for a cool film based on a comic book hero come back from the dead looks great on paper—especially if that piece of paper had the Billboard charts printed on it, where this soundtrack soared to #1. In hindsight, The Crow simply arrived at the right time, as albums by The Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails and Pantera had themselves recently occupied the #1 and #2 positions. There are a handful of good original songs on here, including an honest-to-goodness hit with Stone Temple Pilots’ “Big Empty,” but mostly this is the sort of stuff that showed up as bonus tracks on EPs and CD singles: covers (“Dead Souls,” “Ghostrider,” “The Badge”), alternate versions (“Milktoast,” “Darkness”) and songs that might have missed the original album cut (“Burn,” “Golgotha Tenement Blues,” “After The Flesh”). It’s an interesting mix, but I would recommend buying almost any single album from one of these artists over this sampler. I found myself skipping ahead to some tracks (“Darkness,” “After The Flesh,” “Time Baby III”) and ignoring the rest of it. For example, the opening “Burn” is the same smoldering stuff that appears in spades on Cure albums, and covers by NIN and Pantera add nothing to what they’ve already accomplished with Downward Spiral and Vulgar Display. The soundtrack to The Crow remains an interesting collectible as a crystallized portrait of alternative 90s rock in its ascension, only it’s no diamond in the rough. As a soundtrack, it’s a crowning success, but as an album of original goth/industrial/metal music it’s nothing to crow about.