Once upon a time, perhaps around the same time Michael Jackson made the fateful decision to destroy his face and reemerge as Webster, a band that helped pioneer the entire alternative music scene released one of the definitive "greatest hits" albums in history. Not only was Staring At The Sea: The Singles a monumental success for the Cure, but a much needed shot in the arm for a entire genre of music, that was surviving on the support of college radio. When music historians look back to quantify the contribution of the alternative movement, they would be remiss and unfairly unjust if they placed bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins at the top of the mantle. The alternative scene never would have made the commercially viable leap to the mainstream without Nirvana's Nevermind, but to dismiss and forget the foundation laid by the Sex Pistols, Sonic Youth, Pixies, R.E.M., Violent Femmes, Clash, and the Cure would be to deny most of the movement's best music.
Robert Smith's ghoulish look never warmed the hearts of too many parents, but as I once told my mom before embarking outside one Halloween dressed as the Cure's lead singer, "Could be worse... I could have dressed up like Gene Simmons from KISS".
Their 1989 release Disintegration, still reigns as the band's most mature and musically satisfying body of work with Smith at the top of his craft; brooding, melancholic, and incredibly passionate.
Having been idolized by the children of South Park, one would think that Smith (a pisher at age 42) would have been satisfied with his success and moved on and learned how to fly fish, but someone managed to convince him and his fellow band mates to return to the studio to record this brand new greatest hits collection which has both some drawbacks and incredibly bright moments.
Noticeably absent from this new collection is the Cure's first real hit "Killing An Arab," and while I think it is possible that the song was omitted to make room for some of the more recent offerings, the timing of the release and the current mood of the country makes me wonder if some politically correct bigwig had the song axed at the last minute.
While I applaud the inclusion of the classic Cure songs "Lullaby," "Lovesong," and "Friday I'm In Love" from Disintegration and Wish, I have to admit that cynicism began to rear its ugly head about six songs into this eighteen song collection. Yeah, I really love the Cure, but are they really that desperate for money that they had to release the same songs for the third time in some cases? I was ready after one listen to stick it on the shelf and not listen to it for another six months, when I discovered that there was another disc included.
Guess what? Brand new acoustic versions of all of the songs on Disc one!
The acoustic renditions show that Smith's voice is not as strong anymore, but he sounds less somber and in many cases, that is not such a bad thing. The sound quality is far superior on disc two and it proved to be a huge hit at our Chanukah party. Funny... Robert Smith does not look Jewish.
Enjoyment: 60 (Disc One) 85 (Disc Two)
Sound Quality: 60 (Disc One) 70 (Disc Two)