I’ve already talked about how b-sides are a wonderful thing that are on the verge of dying out. Sometimes they’re weird and sometimes they’re even better than what made it on the album. But of course not every artist is a master at the b-side. One band that does it best is The Cure. It was really hard to pick only ten b-sides to highlight because they have so many awesome ones. If you haven’t gotten Join the Dots: B-side Collection get it as soon as you can. It’s four discs full of odd and wonderful songs by the band. Plus, you get a cool booklet with facts, some of which I’ve included here. Anyway, here are ten of the best Cure b-sides.
- Another Journey By Train- A Forest Single
This instrumental shows off the musical talents of the band, something that is often overlooked. The name of the track really fits the song because when listening to it you can picture trains moving along at top speed in time to the rapid music. The song is interesting because it’s a remake of their single “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” Though you can’t hear it at first when you put the two songs side by side you can easily hear the similarities. If anything this b-side comes off as the darker side to the single. It’s one of the bands finer instrumental numbers.
- Fear of Ghosts- Lovesong 12” Single
This is one of more haunting and creepy Cure tracks out there. It has a hypnotizing guitar riff that’s slightly on the exotic side with silent ambient noises playing throughout the intro. Then Smith comes in singing in a whisper sounding like a disturbed spirit himself. He gets even darker and creepier towards the end when he’s singing so quietly you can barely hear him. And just like with some of the band’s greatest material, it’s a moody track that has an overall ominous sound and feeling to it. This would’ve found a perfect fit on Disintegration, but unfortunately it was left off. Still, it’s an amazing song that shows off both their creativity and their abilities as musicians.
- The Dream- The Walk 7” Single
Recorded during the strange era of the band when The Cure consisted of two members who then decided to leave behind the gloom for mindless poppy tracks, this upbeat, odd sounding song is catchy even if it is weird. Something about the heavy synth riff and the way Smith repeats “dancing, dancing” makes the song stick in your head. Even though it’s not their best b-side or even their most profound, it’s really fun and shows that even the quirky side of the band is still really damn good. Maybe what makes it so charming is that Smith actually sounds like he’s having fun on this song and that feeling is infectious. As soon as it comes on you want to start dancing and have some fun yourself.
- New Day- Half an Octopus EP
This is another creepy, ominous Cure track that begins with Robert Smith whispering “Shout.” From there the ethereal music which features chant like noises, random moaning, and wailing takes over sending the listener on a weird, psychedelic journey with the band. As if this wasn’t enough to get under your skin, the b-side ends with an anguish scream like someone in pain. It’s actually a weird vocal take for the singer, but when you learn that he later went to the hospital the night it was recorded for exhaustion it’s no surprised the track came out sounding so tortured. Again, this shows one of the many sides of the band and how they were never afraid to change up their sound.
- Just One Kiss- Let’s Go To Bed Single
What’s funny about this track is even though it comes from the Japanese Whispers era when the band were doing pop inspired hits, it sounds like it was made much later and due to the title it feels perfect for the Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me era. This low key song has tribal like drums and wavering, dreamy vocals from Smith himself to put the listener in a trance. The intro music actually sounds similar to their previous single “The Hanging Garden;” it has that same slow rumbling vibe to it. Here, we also see the darkness hasn’t completely left the band as Smith sings “Somebody died for this/Somebody died/ For just one kiss.” With the unique music showing off how they can vary their sound and Smith’s ominous lyrics, it’s easy to see why this is one of his favorite b-sides.
- This Twilight Garden- High Single
This is one of the softer, prettier numbers from The Cure. Here, Smith sounds genuine and even loving as he sings “I lift my lips from kissing you/to kiss the sky, cold soft and blue.” Smith doesn’t shy away from expressing feelings of love, but here he does it best. He just sounds so sincere. It’s one of those songs where you close your eyes and let the soft ambient, tropical, kind of trippy music take you away. This is also one of those songs that show the band isn’t all doom and gloom. They have their soft, pretty moments and when they do, it’s something quite breathtaking.
The Big Hand- Letter to Elise Single
I first heard this song on the VHS tape Play Out. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but I instantly fell in love. The hushed, dreamy music and Smith’s other worldly vocals fit so well together. It turns out it’s actually one of his least favorite songs and I can’t figure out why. Even though the music is really soft and relaxing, it’s still a pretty bleak song with such depressing lyrics like “The big hand makes all of your favorite things/like all your days run out and all your hopes disappear.” It’s a lovely song and it sounds so good you don’t even realize it’s about drug addiction, as Smith revealed on the b-side box set booklet.
Lament- The Walk 12” Single
This b-side, which can also be found on the compilation disc Japanese Whispers, is another one I quickly fell in love with. The high pitched synth music that sounds like angels wailing quickly grabbed my attention. This is one of those tricky Cure songs where you don’t know how dark it is until you get a hold of the lyrics. As if the weird, moody music and the title weren’t enough, the lyrics paint a depressing picture. The track actually talks about a man throwing himself in the river and how his body flows “underneath the bridge.” Dark as it may be, it’s still one of their strongest songs and one that gets better with every listen.
The Exploding Boy- Inbetween Days Single
If you can believe it, this is the happiest sounding song by the Cure. It’s a burst of energy filled with upbeat frantic guitar playing with some odd saxophone tossed in. It’s a pretty fast number that’s filled with so much excitement you can practically hear it pouring out of Smith when he sings “Not this way, not today.” He shouts it at the top of his lungs! It makes since that the song sounds so happy and uplifting because during this time Smith states he was happy with the new line up of the band and couldn’t wait to perform the new songs. For something so upbeat, it has the most curious title that makes you think it’s about something much darker.
A Chain of Flowers- Catch 12” Single
Everything about this song is perfect. The beautiful, yet somber music takes you away, while Smith wails on. It’s one of those tracks that shows how wonderful their mesh of beauty and darkness can be. Here, Robert Smith longs for his lover to stay with him, so that he can never lose her. The lyrics are simple; there aren’t any gloomy images popping in your head, but something about it is special. It really comes out in Smith’s voice, especially during the last verse. You can hear his heart and soul bleeding through this b-side and it’s the most wonderful thing for any Cure fan to hear. If someone were to ask me why people love The Cure so much, I would make them listen to this song.
What are your favorite Cure b-sides? Did they make the list? Let me know in the comments. Really, The Cure have so many great b-sides, but I couldn’t cover them all here. Who knows maybe there’ll have to be a part two to this list. Let me know what you think.