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Three Imaginary Boys (Deluxe Edition)

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Album Review

How to handle the B-sides, rarities, and sock-drawer discoveries? It's the dilemma of any band with an exhaustive series of reissues ahead of it. The results, no matter what they might be, are bound to cause a mix of jubilation, confusion, and frustration throughout the fan base — especially when the band in question is the Cure. There's no clean, obvious way to do it. Rhino's elaborate overhauling of the Cure's back catalog assumes that you have been a rabid follower throughout the years and will want every piece of the puzzle. Cure fans being Cure fans, it's not a foolish judgment to make, and it's the one that should cause the least amount of consternation. Following the four-disc Join the Dots box, Rhino continued with a two-disc expanded form of Three Imaginary Boys, originally released in 1979 as the band's first album. Since the B-sides from this era appear on the box, they aren't included on the rarities disc that accompanies the album proper. This allows plenty of room for demos, live versions, and orphaned songs. "Jumping Someone Else's Train" and "Boys Don't Cry" — two non-album A-sides — are included, as is "World War," a song that appeared on initial copies and was presumably extracted for being, as Robert Smith accurately claims, "a terrible piece of rubbish." ("Killing an Arab" is conspicuously absent, possibly left out in order to reel in fans when the deluxe singles anthology surfaces.) The four live tracks, due to poor sound quality, aren't worth a second listen, though the breakneck-tempo take on "10:15 Saturday Night" and the frantic "Heroin Face" are both jolting. Unsurprisingly, the demos and outtakes are key attractions for the insatiable fans. Four studio demos from 1978 are a major draw, with Smith's boyish and alluringly ho-hum vocals in stark contrast to what is heard on the album, and the relatively strenuous instrumentation isn't nearly as spindly. Not to be outdone, disc one contains a remastered Three Imaginary Boys that sounds far more crisp and bold than the initial, thin-sounding CD version. Plenty of photos and biographical liner notes are included. This all bodes well for the reissues that will follow.


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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