[Review] The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys (1979)

It wasn’t Damned, Damned, Damned, but The Cure’s first is still a pretty damned good punk rock record.

Kronomyth 1.0: Punkicillin.

A lot of new wave bands started out as punks: Adam and The Ants, The Stranglers, XTC. I’d even throw The Police and Devo into that group. The Cure, however, started out as a really good punk band. Three Imaginary Boys, their first album, is one of the most exciting records to come out of the late 70s English punk movement. “Accuracy,” “Grinding Halt” (a personal favorite of mine), “Object,” “Fire In Cairo” and “It’s Not You” are some of the best punk/pop songs this side of The Buzzcocks.

The gloomy and dense Cure albums that followed have little in common with these Boys save for a few dark turns on “Subway Song,” the noirish “10.15 Saturday Night” (selected as the album’s single, although it’s not nearly the best song on here) and the spooky, slinky title track. Unfortunately, Three Imaginary Boys was packaged without the boys’ full approval, from the unauthorized album cover (which I actually like) to the unwanted inclusion of “Foxy Lady” (sung by Michael Dempsey and very reminiscent of XTC’s “All Along The Watchtower”) and the sloppy 12-bar blues at the end (eventually credited as the album’s thirteenth track, “The Weedy Burton”).

Whether or not this is the album that Robert Smith would have released, it’s the album that launched The Cure and caught the ear of punk fans after the Pistols went silent. Despite some youthful mistakes (“So What,” “Meat Hook”), Three Imaginary Boys is a varied and very good first album of English punk with just the right amounts of attitude, energy and oddball antisocialism.

Original LP Version

A1. 10.15 Saturday Night (3:42)
A2. Accuracy (2:18)
A3. Grinding Halt (2:50)
A4. Another Day (3:42)
A5. Object (3:00)
A6. Subway Song (1:59)
B1. Foxy Lady (Jimi Hendrix) (2:29)
B2. Meat Hook (2:18)
B3. So What (2:35)
B4. Fire In Cairo (3:21)
B5. It’s Not You (2:52)
B6.Three Imaginary Boys (3:13)
B7. (hidden track a/k/a The Weedy Burton)

Bonus Disc 2
1. I Want To Be Old (demo)
2. I’m Cold (demo)
3. Heroin Face (live)
4. I Just Need Myself (demo)
5. 10.15 Saturday Night (demo)
6. The Cocktail Party (demo)
7. Grinding Halt (demo)
8. Boys Don’t Cry (demo)
9. It’s Not You (demo)
10. 10.15 Saturday Night (demo)
11. Fire In Cairo (demo)
12. Winter (out-take)
13. Faded Smiles (a/k/a I Don’t Know) (out-take)
14. Play With Me (out-take)
15. World War
16. Boys Don’t Cry (single version)
17. Jumping Someone Else’s Train (single version)
18. Subway Song (live)
19. Accuracy (live)
20. 10.15 Saturday Night (live)

All songs written by Lol Tolhurst, Michael Dempsey and Robert Smith unless noted.

The Players

Michael Dempsey (bass, vocals), Lol Tolhurst (drums), Robert Smith (guitar, vocals).

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette on May 11, 1979 in the UK (Fiction/Polydor, FIX1), Australia (Stunn, STUN-510), Finland (Fiction, FIX1 on yellow vinyl), France (Polydor, 3170 539), Germany (Fiction, 0060.334) and the Netherlands (Fiction, 2442 163) with picture innersleeve; reached #44 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-released on picture disc elpee in Mexico (Fiction, P-FIX1).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in April 1990 in the UK and in 1990 in Japan (Polydor, POCP-1871).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in Mexico (Polydor, CDEPR-1021).
  4. Re-issued on compact disc in 1998 (Polygram International, 827686).
  5. Re-released as 2CD Deluxe Edition on November 29, 2004 in the UK (Polydor, 9821828) and the US (Rhino, R2-78895).
  6. Re-issued on compact disc in 2005 in the UK (Polydor, 9821829).
  7. Re-released on 180g vinyl elpee, picture disc elpee and compact disc in 2007 in Russia (Lillith, LR130LP/LR130LPP/LR130) and in 2008 in the UK (Universal, 5309517).
  8. Re-released on super high material compact disc on May 21, 2008 in Japan (Fiction, UICY-93477).
  9. Re-packaged with Pornography on 2-for-1 compact disc in Russia (Дopa, JPCD 2002488).
  10. Re-issued on 180g vinyl elpee on September 2, 2016 in the US (Rhino, R1 523247).

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