Goth! Show Me Magic – #4 – Number 5 – 3

5. Wasteland – The Mission (1986, Mercury Records, Taken from ‘God’s Own Medicine’)

In Leeds (where else)?) in the early part of 1986, Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams left the Sisters of Mercy to form a band called The Sisterhood, that quickly evolved into The Mission and they recruited a member of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and a sometimes member of Pulp on the way.  I’m not sure why Hussey and Adams left the Sisters of Mercy, lets say it was musical differences, because their styles are quite different.

Certainly, The Mission were more accessible, and they had almost instant success with ‘Wasteland’ (although I think the band might have been all mysterious and called it ‘IV’ or something) climbing to Number 11 I the UK Charts in 1986.  A debut album ‘God’s Own Medicine’ followed.  

By 1990, the band were pretty popular in the UK, and were like The Cure (see below), even appealing to an audience who were some distance from the Goth scene.  They supported U2, they played festivals, and at times, very nearly released pop music and for a period of time the band were one of a few that stepped out from the Goth scene – they were really popular amongst fans of bands like the Wonderstuff for instance.  This in itself was the reason that ‘Carved in Sand’ the third album, was passed around the alternative set in my school like it was popping candy. 

Butterfly on a Wheel – The Mission (1990, Mercury Records, Taken from ‘Carved In Sand’)

4. A Forest – The Cure (1980, Fiction Records, Taken from ’17 seconds’)

I may have said elsewhere that the Cure pretty much invented Goth as we knew it in early part of the eighties.  They did this by slightly abandoning their post punk roots, buying a smoke machine and recording the albums in the dark to say money of the electricity.  The result of all that was the release of ’17 Seconds’.  A dark, gloomy masterpiece that paved the way for so much more.

Yes you could argue that bands like the Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus were already making this type of music, but it was The Cure who opened the door and if you ask ordinary non music folks to name a Goth band – they will say The Cure.  It was The Cure that made it, by and large what it is today. 

‘A Forest’ was the only single to be released from ’17 Seconds’ and it saw The Cure crack the Top 40 for the first time.  Of course a few years later, the band would sell their smoke machines and invest in a couple of trumpets but not before they had released two more distinctly Gothic album, one of which was ‘Pornography’ an album which manages to out Goth even ’17 Seconds’.

A Figurehead – The Cure (1982, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Pornography’)

3. Spellbound – Siouxsie & the Banshees (1981, Polydor Records, Taken from ‘Juju’)

Again, like so many others in this series, Siouxsie and the Banshees started out in life as post punk band.  As music progressed, they changed their musical style and by album three, ‘Kaleidoscope’, they were already being hailed as a major influence on the emerging Gothic scene.  In 1981, they recorded a bunch of new songs for their fourth album ‘Juju’ – one of those was ‘Spellbound’.  A song that was described by the NME at the time as being “A glorious electric storm”.  The NME would about a week after ‘Juju’ was released claim that the Banshees were “one of the greatest bands on the earth”.   It remains to this today one of the greatest Goth anthems of one time.

More than half of the Musical Jury included ‘Spellbound’ in their Top Five Goth Anthems, and the ones who didn’t, picked this slice of dark electro pop instead.

Cities in Dust – Siouxsie and the Banshees (1986, Polydor Records, Taken from ‘Tinderbox’)

The One Word Countdown – #9

The spiderman is having me for dinner tonight……

Lullaby – The Cure (1989, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Disintegration’)

Points 202

If we used the ‘Most Voted For’ chart for ‘Lullaby’ it would be placed in third place, which kind of gives you an idea of just how popular the song is.  But it very nearly didn’t make it on to the short list at all.   I was just about to send the short list out to the musical jury members when I spotted that there were two Cure songs on this list.  So I tossed a coin and ‘Lullaby’ remained.

This is the song that got the boot.  But would it have placed any higher?

Lovesong – The Cure (1989, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Disintegration’)

‘Lullaby’ is one of the darkest records to have ever graced the Top Five (although strangely the track bombed in the States on release).  There are no lyrics about “caterpillars” or trumpets that blare out every ten seconds as Robert Smith saucily invites us back to bed with a devilish lipstick stained smile. Instead we get whispered vocals that are heavily weighed down with lyrics about victims shivering in their beds whilst a spooky spiderman hunts them and eats them for dinner and strings that sound delicate and despite giving the song an almost warm mood, they lyrics that are wrapped around them make them sound like they are made out of ice. 

And I fell like I’m being eaten/By a thousand million shivering furry holes/And I know that in the morning/ I will wake up in the shivering cold/And the Spiderman is always hungry

‘Love Cats’ this is not although, it is perky in scary doll walking across a dark attic kind of way.

When it first came out Robert Smith had to come out and tell people that the song was about his battles with drug abuse rather than about sexual assault or a similar event that may have occurred in Smiths childhood (and as far as I know that much remains correct).  To back this up, when ‘Lullaby’ was released as a single the band made an incredible video to accompany it. 

In that video, Smith plays two roles, that of the victim, one that is all panda eyed who is tormented and spends most of his time in bed rolling around and staring at spiders that creep along the floorboards.  The second role that Smith plays is that of the actual spiderman that is hunting Smith.  In doing this Smith sort of tells everyone that the only demons that are chasing him are ones that he has created himself.  That or he is trying to tell people that he is mad.

‘Lullaby’ is fantastic, especially the way in which it teeters from being a bit novelty or at the very least a Grimms Fairy Tale to that of a nightmare that is unfurling in front of us.

There were loads of Cure songs that were considered for this list, including: –

High – The Cure (1992, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Wish’)

Primary – The Cure (1981, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Faith’)

Three – The Cure (1980, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Seventeen Seconds’)

Today marks the 300th post for No Badger Required. Thanks for staying with me.

Nearly Perfect Albums #3

Disintegration – The Cure

Pictures of You – The Cure (1989, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Disintegration’)

In 1989, after (I think) six albums of trying (and failing) to conquer the world with a brand of quirky leftfield oddball Goth pop which was both happy and sad in equal measures, The Cure released ‘Disintegration’.   An album that was nearly all gloom and doom, full of songs that were epic in their structure and their statement.  It looked at first, like an album that would lead to career suicide. 

However, it turned out that people wanted epic, and they wanted doom and relentless gloom and it sold by the bucketload and finally propelled the band to the global success that was long overdue.  It also meant for a little bit at least, The Cure could put down the trumpets.

You might say that the publics acceptance was down to the singles.  There was ‘Lullaby’, with its spiky strings and earworm-y chorus about spiders, surely one of the weirdest songs to have ever cracked the Top Five.  Then there was ‘Pictures of You’ a song so massive and epic that businesspeople went out and built stadiums just so The Cure had a venue big enough to do it justice.  There was even Lovesong, a soppy, erm, love song written by Smith as a wedding present for his new bride (well its beats earrings I suppose) which exploited the public’s need for a catchy chorus and a well placed string section perfectly (particular in the USA where it peaked at Number 2).  

But you would be wrong to say it’s the singles.  They are, if you like, just the lipstick at the top of the make up box.  The real brilliance of ‘Disintegration’ lays in huge sweeping chunks of synth obsessed, and I’ll use the word again, gloom inspired, mastery at the bottom of the box.

From the monumental opener ‘Plainsong’, which is ushered in by chimes that sound like they are warning of you of a storm approaching.  Through the menacing, rumbling bass of ‘Fascination Street’ and the shuddering misery of ‘Prayers for Rain’, right up to the accordion that closes ‘Untitled’.  ‘Disintegration’ is a bleak, stormy masterpiece.

Fascination Street – The Cure (1989, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Disintegration’)

Plainsong – The Cure (1989, Fiction Records, Taken from ‘Disintegration’)

I don’t suppose its any real surprise that this album has a reputation about being depressing, it kind of is, but it’s a beautiful sort of depressing, one covered in dry ice and played out in a stadium and handing out decaying roses to anyone who wants one.  Its embracing that doom and it invites you to share in it.  I personally think it’s an album full of beauty (a dark sort of beauty perhaps), and its album I find myself enjoying the more I listen to it. 

As predicted last week – the one thing that is wrong with this album is that is too long, there are too many songs (which despite being very good) that clock in at eight or nine minutes but saying that its easily The Cure’s best record, it’s ambitious, inspiring and creative, but best of all, it’s nearly perfect.