The Cure – Three Imaginary Boys (45th Anniversary Edition)

I am a couple of days early with this one but on 11th May 1979, The Cure released their debut album, ’Three Imaginary Boys’. The members of this first line up had all attended Notre Dame Middle School in Crawley and first appeared on stage together in a one-off school band called Obelisk. Eventually settling down into a four piece called Easy Cure consisting of Robert Smith (guitar, vocals), Porl Thompson (guitar), Michael Dempsey (bass) and Lol Tolhurst (drums). Entering and winning a competition that resulted in the band being signed to German label Hansa, a number of demos were recorded which have yet to see the light of day. The label soon dropped the band because they did not see eye to eye on what they wanted. The band wanted to record original material where as the label wanted them to be a covers band. Released from their contract, Thompson would leave due to conflict with Smith. Smith felt that Thompson’s guitar playing was too busy (or too good) for a punk band. Smith was also writing songs that were considerably more minimalistic than their earlier work. Thompson would rejoin the band in 1983 but for the time being, he was out of the picture.

Dropping the Easy part of the name, the three piece recorded a demo at Chestnut Studios in Essex for distribution to record labels. Eventually, Chris Parry at Polydor decided that he would sign them as one of the first acts on his newly formed Fiction label. The resulting album, ‘Three Imaginary Boys’ did not meet Robert Smith’s standard as he was not given control over the track listing and cover art. This is clearly shown by the inclusion of a cover of the Jimi Hendrix song, ‘Foxy Lady’, which the band used as a soundcheck. As far as I can tell, it is the only cover the band has ever released on one of its records. It also has the distinction of being the only song by The Cure that was not sung by Robert Smith. On this occasion, bass player Michael Dempsey took on vocal duties. Three singles were also recorded during these early days and none of the A-Sides appeared on this album. Dempsey would leave before the recording of the next album as the band would leave this post punk sound behind and go on a much darker path. 

The album has been re-released many times over the years but in 2004, a deluxe edition came out which contained a number of unreleased songs from those early days as well as the aforementioned single cuts*. Having been a bit of a Cure fan, and even more so of their earlier work, I knew that there was a number of songs that could have been included to round this collection out and make it more substantial. With this being (nearly) the 45th Anniversary of its release, I though this would be a perfect opportunity to do so.

On disc 1, the first twelve tracks are the same as the original album. We then have all of the Single A and B-Sides, including those recorded at the time but not released until ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ was rereleased with a different vocal in the mid 80s. This disc also includes a number of sessions outtakes, a Peel Session from 1978 and ‘The Weedy Burton’, a hidden track on the original album which sounds as though it should be at the end of the CD and not half way through. 

Disc 1

  1. 10:15 Saturday Night – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  2. Accuracy – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  3. Grinding Halt – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  4. Another Day – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  5. Object – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  6. Subway Song – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  7. Foxy Lady – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  8. Meat Hook – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  9. So What – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  10. Fire in Cairo – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  11. It’s Not You – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  12. Three Imaginary Boys – Three Imaginary Boys Album
  13. Killing an Arab – Single A-side
  14. Boys Don’t Cry – Single A-side
  15. Plastic Passion – Single B-side (Boys Don’t Cry)
  16. Pillbox Tales – Single B-side (Boys Don’t Cry Reissue)
  17. Do The Hansa – Single B-side (Boys Don’t Cry Reissue)
  18. Jumping Someone Else’s Train Single – Single A-side
  19. I’m Cold – Single B-side (Jumping Someone Else’s Train)
  20. Winter – Three Imaginary Boys Out-Take
  21. Faded Smiles (I Don’t Know) – Three Imaginary Boys Out-Take
  22. Play With Me – Three Imaginary Boys Out-Take
  23. World War – Three Imaginary Boys Out-Take
  24. 10:15 Saturday Night – Peel Session (11/12/1978)
  25. Killing an Arab – Peel Session (11/12/1978)
  26. Fire in Cairo – Peel Session (11/12/1978)
  27. Boy’s Don’t Cry – Peel Session (11/12/1978)
  28. The Weedy Burton – Three Imaginary Boys Album

Disc 2 is a deeper dive into the early years of the band, including songs that were recorded when they were still known as Easy Cure. The first four songs are, I believe, from the sessions recorded at Hansa. These show the band as a lot more of a punk band than the tunes included on ‘Three Imaginary Boys’. Opening song is ‘See The Children’ and it is easy to see why this one has never ‘officially’ seen the light of day as it tells the story of a man who prays on children. The demo that secured the band its record deal with Fiction Records is also included as well as few live tracks and another Peel Session. 

Disc 2

  1. See The Children – Easy Cure Demo
  2. Meathook – Easy Cure Demo
  3. I Just Need Myself – Easy Cure Demo
  4. I Want to be Old – Easy Cure Demo
  5. Listen (Pillbox Tales) – Easy Cure Demo
  6. I’m Cold – Sav Studio Demo
  7. The Cocktail Party – Group Home Demo
  8. Grinding Halt – Group Home Demo
  9. Heroin Face – Live At The Rocket Crawely, December 1977
  10. 10:15 Saturday Night – Robert Smith Home Demo
  11. I Just Need Myself – Psl Studio Demo
  12. Boys Don’t Cry – Chestnut Studios Demo
  13. Fire In Cairo – Chestnut Studios Demo
  14. It’s Not You – Chestnut Studios Demo
  15. 10:15 Saturday Night – Chestnut Studios Demo
  16. Killing an Arab – Demo
  17. Faded Smiles – Demo
  18. Plastic Passion – Demo
  19. Subway Song – Live
  20. Accuracy – Live
  21. 10:15 Saturday Night – Live
  22. Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation – Peel Session (06/05/1979)
  23. Plastic Passion – Peel Session (06/05/1979)
  24. Grinding Halt – Peel Session (06/05/1979)
  25. Do the Hansa – Jensen Session (13/08/1979)
  26. Subway Song – Peel Session (06/05/1979)

It might seem a bit excessive, especially as the listener would have to listen to five different versions of ’10:15 Saturday Night’, but it is a more comprehensive package than the original Deluxe Edition from 2004. 

The front cover is the same as the one used on the 2004 Deluxe Edition reissue of the album. 

*Except for ‘Killing an Arab’. Even though it is an adaptation of ‘The Stranger’ by Albert Camus, the song has had a controversial history due to a view that is promotes violence against Arabs. The Cure have even changed the lyrics when performing it in the 21st Century to either ‘Kissing an Arab’ or ‘Killing Another’. This was not concluded on the 2004 re-release of this album. 

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