If any group or band epitomises the 80’s more than The Cure then bring them to me now. I just don’t think that such a thing exists. Yet when you look at their UK singles chart performance, their highest ever chart position was only number 5 for 1989’s Lullaby, taken from the album Disintegration.
Stuff from the high altar of 1980's music.
But enough of that, let’s get back to In Between Days. The first single from the 1985 album The Head On The Door, it was released in July 1985 and entered the UK singles chart in the w/e 27 July. I bought it on 1 August as it slowly made its way to its highest position of 15. FIFTEEN!? That just shows what utter peasants the UK record buying public could be at times – but having said that, at the time this was released we had Live Aid with all the spin off benefits that it produced. We also had huge number one hits from Sister Sledge (Frankie), The Eurythmics (There Must Be An Angel), Madonna (Into The Groove).
Musically, it’s classic Cure. Upbeat in tempo, but decidedly downbeat as far as the lyrics go. As some lifting synth melodies augment the thumping bass and guitar sections Smithy sings about fear and ageing and loss. For example, the two verses start with respectively, ‘yesterday I got so old, I felt like I could die’ and ‘yesterday I got so scared, I shivered like a child’. I guess there’s more than a little mischief going on with chief mischief maker Smith actually having a whale of a time.
Just check out all of that hair in the video. Don’t try guessing at the band’s hairspray bill. I don’t think that there are enough number on the calculator.
If In Between Days highest chart position was a travesty, then what about this one? Released in the w/e 21 September 1985, hot on the heels of its predecessor, it managed only number 24 in the UK singles chart. I faithfully did my bit, buying it on 18 October, but it was to no avail.
Cut this open and it says 1980's music, like a stick o' Blackpool rock.
In terms of dark themes this goes even further than In Between Days. To start with, there’s less of an attempt to jolly the melody along – the hand-claps at the start really do set the tempo for the entire piece, although there are a couple of uplifting solos from wind instruments. And the lyrics, in which Smithy sings about wishing that the day would end; that the night could be close to him and hoping that seeing his head on the door was a dream, are even more gloomy. That said, it really is a great song, another which really does have 1980’s music stamped all over it.
Maybe, just maybe The Cure weren’t a singles band? I mean, this one released in October 1987 was another peach of a single, yet it only made number 29 in the UK singles chart, staying for just 5 weeks. Were they bothered? Probably not.
Anyway, enough about the ins and outs of chart positions. Fact is, this was a peach of a single. Melodically it’s very upbeat, as usual, and initially so lyrically too. But then Smithy wakes from his dream to realise that his girl is gone – taken and drowned by the raging sea. Well that’s how I read it – and I don’t mean ‘read’ in the prosaic sense of scanning the words with my eyes and trying to make sense of ’em that way. The single is perhaps best known as the one that finally broke The Cure into the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA. It was the third of four singles taken from 1987’s album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.