Friday, January 29, 2010

The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years

Here's how this works. I read a book or two and tell you about them and try not to get too long-winded, and maybe you'd like to think about reading them as well. This time, a review of The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years (Zomba, 1988).

I remember when this book was first released, such a long time ago. It was 1988 and there were two copies at the legendary Atlanta record store Wax n' Facts, and I could never quite justify the $25 they wanted for it. Even if I could drum up that much money in one go, that was six or seven used LPs! I liked the Cure enormously - still do - but eventually I just made do with JoAnn Greene's little $8 60-page mini-bio with all the easily-detached pinup pages. They detached really easily when the binding disintegrated after about three months.

More than twenty years (Jesus!) later, I found a copy of this book, priced the same $8 as the little JoAnn Greene one that I bought back when I was in high school, at Eagle Eye Book Store on a day where I told myself repeatedly not to spend any money. Yet nostalgia for That Teenage Feeling is sometimes strong enough to overpower the budget, I've found.

I really missed out waiting so long to read this book. A collaboration between Robert Smith, Melody Maker's Steve Sutherland and a fanzine editor who'd saved as many print reviews of the band as could be found, it's a warts-and-all look at the Cure's first decade, told with unflattering honesty and candor that you rarely find in officially-endorsed product.

It's so detailed in its honesty that some of what happened to the group in later years makes a good bit more sense. It was released shortly after the release of the 1987 single "Why Can't I Be You?" and just before a world tour that had fans questioning why the Cure suddenly needed two keyboardists. The reality was that, as early as 1980, Lol Tolhurst had drank more liquor than everybody who'll ever read this, combined. I've done some amazingly stupid crap when drunk, but I was still pretty shocked by the stories of Tolhurst's spectacular speed-of-sound descent into alcoholism. Put it this way: I've never, ever been so drunk that taking a leak on Billy Idol was ever an option.

It's a perfect capsule of the Cure at a perfect moment in their story. Their greatest period - Disintegration and its tour - was just ahead of them, and my personal favorite - the Hyaena / Top / Blue Sunshine / Head on the Door days of 1984-85 - just behind them, so I found this a very fun read, the story of a band which was conquering Britain and poised on the brink of unlikely worldwide stardom. It wouldn't be so compelling if it wasn't so honest, but it's a good pop music success story regardless. I'd love to see a revised and expanded edition released in the near future. I promise I won't wait 22 years to buy such a thing. Recommended for any popular music library.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I bought this book when I was in high school through a mail order record company called, I believe, Midnight Records. I even laminated it in the school library. Always used to read it. I still have it in a box somewhere. Ah...the past.