The holidays must be drawing near. To record labels, the festive season means two things: CDs as gifts and gift certificates as potential CD purchases. Thus comes the November influx of greatest hits packages and video collections. Never ones to place their fans over a few extra dollars, this Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/etc. finds the Cure being naughty with the release of their latest in a long line of greatest hits repackaging scams.
The Cure have always attracted a certain sector of the record buying population, no matter how uneven or downright horrible their records may have been. These people are usually, in America at least, quietly obsessive about the Cure and their discography sort of like less obnoxious versions of The Tori Amos Girl. The Cure kids quietly and steadily build a personal library of obscure French import records and discarded tubes of frontman Robert Smith”s mascara. But curiously, perhaps simply in the name of having a complete collection or simple masochism, they continue to buy Cure greatest hits albums despite already having all but a song or two already in their collections. And the general public isn”t buying these hits packages, though they would be far better off for supporting the Cure than say, Incubus. These days, the only non-fan buyers of the Cure hits records are friends of fans attempting to understand their friend”s obsession.
But Greatest Hits isn”t essentially a bad record. It offers popular Cure favorites like “Boys Don”t Cry,” Just Like Heaven” and “Mint Car” along with radio hits “Lovesong” and “Friday I”m In Love.” The collection also offers, in a classic Cure con, two new songs. “Cut Here” and “Just Say Yes” can only be found on this $20+ Cure CD. The Cure have been pulling this sort of trickery since the mid-“80s and they still think they can get away with it, and given the nature of their devoted fans, they sadly might. The Cure”s first singles collection CD, 1986″s Staring at the Sea, promised several compact disc only songs in an attempt to promote the then-fledgling format. The cassette version of the same album replaced the CD only tracks with various b-sides, thus creating two “essential” albums for Cure fans on two different formats, and doubling the album”s sales for the label. Similar shenanigans occurred with the release of their subsequent singles package Galore the Cure tacked a “new” song available nowhere else onto the end of it and sat back as the cash registers rang.
Instead of placing Greatest Hits” incomplete collection of original hits on one of its discs and a companion acoustic version of the exact same tracks on the other disc, potential Cure fans would have been better served by a simple binding of the existent singles collections mentioned above. Then there would be no redundancy in the introduction, and the newcomer would get a fuller collection of Cure classics, like “Killing an Arab” and “Pictures of You” just two of a number of quality Cure songs missing from the new Greatest Hits. Releasing the acoustic, Unplugged-style disc two of Hits by itself would be nicer for Cure fans, maybe allowing the less maniacal among them to save some cash by only having to buy a single record instead of the double disc. A little present like showing respect and kindness toward their fans would be a nice gesture from the Cure during this holiday season. But that won”t happen, and this year Robert Smith can expect to find a lump a coal, and not my $20, in his Christmas stocking.
My thanks to Sunil Sawani, Cure expert, for his input regarding this album