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Seventeen Seconds (Remastered)

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Album Review

Approximately five months after Rhino released the two-disc reissue of Three Imaginary Boys, the label gave Cure albums two through four — 1980's Seventeen Seconds, 1981's Faith, 1982's Pornography — similar treatment, with scads of photos, biographical liner notes, and archive ransackings all part of the design. The initial bare-bones CD issues of these albums had been sounding increasingly thin and quiet across a decade (when compared to other artists' upgraded catalogs), so the improved sound is reason enough to be pleased. Since all the B-sides were put together for the Join the Dots box, the second disc for each reissue is reserved for other rarities, outtakes, demos, and live material. This gives voracious fans a convenient if costly feast, free of overlap, assuming they have enthusiasm for everything the Cure recorded throughout two and a half decades. Many fans who lean toward a particular phase of the group — boiling it down to whether they prefer their gloom to be delivered in shadowy streaks or thick torrents (plus the occasional oddball pop song, of course) — would've preferred to have the B-sides bound to the respective albums. Seventeen Seconds, part of the phase involving shadowy streaks of gloom, is joined here by nearly an hour's worth of extras — most of which are throwaways. The two bouncy, humorous songs off the single from the Cult Hero side project are contained, along with rowdier live versions. "M" (from a 1980 Arnhem gig), along with five more songs off the album (from a French appearance a month later), also come in live form; unless you're a crazed admirer in some sense, they're inconsequential after the first pass. The same goes for a pair of demos, and an alternate mix of "Three" is of some interest (but not much). Seventeen Seconds itself has held up tremendously well and is, naturally, the best reason to get hold of the set.

Biography

Formed: 1976 in Crawley, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Out of all the bands that emerged in the immediate aftermath of punk rock in the late '70s, few were as enduring and popular as the Cure. Led through numerous incarnations by guitarist/vocalist Robert Smith (born April 21, 1959), the band became well-known for its slow, gloomy dirges and Smith's ghoulish appearance, a public image that often hid the diversity of the Cure's music. At the outset, the Cure played jagged, edgy pop songs before slowly evolving into a more textured outfit. As one of the...
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