Exploring The Back Catalogue: HOTD First Impressions, KMKMKM, Oddments

I’m at a crossroads here with presenting the journal material so far, because originally we also had a preliminary listen to The Head On The Door straight after KMKMKM, and neither of us were thrilled with that record. This led to some online debates, not all of which were particularly friendly, and a deeper exploration of reasons we didn’t take to that album like we’ve taken to albums such as Bloodflowers, The Top and KMKMKM. After that, I had a first listen to Wish, which I much preferred to the 1985 release, and got straight into looking at the lyrics on that. In the thick of all of this, I completely forgot to have a closer look at KMKMKM and its lyrics, an omission I will rectify on this blog soon – so much to explore with that album, and really looking forward to that.

Meanwhile though, here’s a very preliminary entry on The Head On The Door, lumped in with two entries on other songs. Also a couple of sermons related to YouTube & co commentaries. ? Plus, I’ve thrown in something extra over and above the “reprint” on the last entry here – i.e. that scorching Hendrix cover, and Pink Floyd…

June 22, 2020

THE HEAD ON THE DOOR: ANOTHER FIRST IMPRESSION – AND A MYSTERY

Last night we said, “What the heck!” and put on The Head On The Door for a first play-through, even though I’m still busy with a deep dive into KMKMKM and not done writing about it.  It was to get a bit of an extra push for making dinner after spending the day out hiking Mt Lindesay.  We were up to our ears multi-tasking various things, so nothing in particular leapt out at us, it was just, “Oh, hello!” to the songs we already knew:  In Between Days and Close To Me, and first listens to studio versions of songs we knew well from live material:  Push and A Night Like This.

First of all, a little mystery solved, 35 years later:  I was double-taking this morning when that album was on.  Hang on a minute, I’d heard this snippet of music before in another context – this exact piece!  In fact, at the beginning of the “The Making Of The Unforgettable Fire Documentary” of which I’ve had a copy for decades (although it’s on video and therefore doesn’t get impromptu views…the video player lives under the stairs these days for occasional use but it’s a hassle).

I was head-scratching, having always wondered what that musical piece in that documentary was.  It faded into other raw music takes that I recognised as the bare bones of songs U2 were developing for The Unforgettable Fire, but this particular piece never turned up on the album, or on B-sides etc etc.  And I couldn’t figure out why, since it sounded very promising.

Hahahaha!  ? That’s because it was a section of the studio version of Push.  So now I know why it didn’t turn up on a U2 album, which is one mystery solved.  This does, however, spawn another mystery:  What was a lengthy section of Push doing in a documentary about another band’s album?  Was this someone’s naughty Easter egg?

…a few hours later, I’ve solved the second mystery.  This is what happened:  It almost certainly wasn’t on the video itself, but it was on an audio recording of the same programme I made on cassette when a local radio station broadcast it when it first came out as video (as a simulcast with a TV station, I think).  Anyway, I had this cassette for many years and used to listen to it a fair bit when I was driving, so I was familiar with every note.  The introduction to the broadcast documentary for some reason had a section from the studio version of Push in it.  It was probably the “spacer music” for lining up the simulcast, and I would have started recording a little early… but for many years I wondered about that little piece of instrumental music!

In case you’re wondering how I could possibly not have worked that out before, given how many times I’ve seen Push live – the segment of the song that was on my tape was from 26 seconds in, and ended before that distinctive lead guitar theme repeated itself again.  I can tell you exactly where it ended too, just after the voice part at 1:40 which I remember very clearly.


So… in keeping with the popular 1980s idea of subliminal programming, here’s another way to explain why I was bound one day, three decades later, to end up liking The Cure.  ?

July 5, 2020

Returning to KMKMKM…

MUSIC TO SOOTHE YOUR LIFE AND MAKE THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE

Do you ever have a day where you’re listless and all you want to do is sit around and recharge (while simultaneously worrying about where your get-up-and-go went, even though you know that it’s not possible to always be active and performing and working and doing exercise and throwing in a few cartwheels in the middle of it all – you do actually have to rest)?

I’m having such a day, with a bit of pain thrown in as well – because I injured something in the base of my left thumb a couple of weeks back chopping down the oversized stems in the tagasaste hedge and it still reminds me of its existence, and this week I got a finger on my other hand pulled backwards when handling a horse.  Things like this don’t heal in a day anymore and meanwhile there’s still lots of physical work to do on the farm, so that tends to set back injuries periodically.

Flat batteries plus niggly pains kind of affects the mood.  Sunday morning pancakes (delicious with home-made blood plum sauce and cream) are followed by an uncharacteristic return to a doomy-gloomy outlook.  So you decide to make chocolate nut horns – it doesn’t aggravate your injuries to do it, it will be nice for afternoon tea, plus you have lovely guests you can surprise with them when they get back in tonight, and tomorrow you have a full-on day where you’re working with the mobile butcher to package 326.5 kg of home-grown beef currently hanging in quarters in his cool room, that he’s going to cut for you, and he starts at dawn, and it will be good to have a box of these treats handy for this work.

The process of getting up from your nice soft bed, where you ensconced yourself with your husband reading – actually physically getting up in order to cut and fill the brioche pastry that’s now risen and ready – requires some kind of effective motivation.  So you go over to the CD player, survey the pile, and put on KMKMKM again.  Press play.

Instant mood lift.  I’m rolling out pastry on borrowed energy from this external source and bursting out in smiles until I’m laughing.  Why?  Because the music is fantastic and because I am under the growing impression that the lead guitarist is having a whale of a time playing that edgy and decidedly impish stuff.  Brett’s calling from the bedroom, “This really is a fabulous intro!” and then the lyrics start and I’m laughing even more because they are completely outrageous, as is their delivery. 

You don’t have to read the song like that.  It’s a very dark song and you could take it at face value, as if every word and sound was meant literally.  Maybe it is, I don’t know, ask the people who wrote it.  Maybe it’s just my exhaustion, but I’m laughing and viewing it as completely tongue-in-cheek, as the same sort of delightful theatre as Lullaby.  And when we watched this on Trilogy, we could have sworn that Robert Smith was laughing his head off when he turned away from the audience after delivering the final missile, “I wish you were dead!”

Thoughts?  Comments?  How are you reading it?

This track was followed by the cute, gentle, wistful Catch, before spiralling back down the rabbit hole into dark Amazingland with Torture and If Only Tonight We Could Sleep, which I’ve written about before.  After that Why Can’t I Be You? actually made perfect sense to me (while Brett claims it’s a “distractor” like the deliberately wrong answers in a multiple choice test).

And with that, the pastries were in the oven, the kitchen was clean again, and I turned off the music to retreat to the bedroom to my nice soft warm bed to write this.  With my husband doing incredibly nice things with my bare feet.  (If you’ve never tried a foot rub before, please do yourself a favour and start living…  :heart-eyes )

Oh and the chocolate nut horns look pretty good as well.

Plus, as it’s Sunday and we’ve worked hard all week, we no longer care about the items left unfinished and we’re not going to do them today after all – they can wait, it’s our recreation time.  So we’ll enjoy our nut horns, do some reading and catch the second half of that Curætion gig, I think.  :)

Yes, we really are hobbits.

Happy Sunday to everyone out there.  :cool

July 12, 2020

ODDMENTS

Currently on this thread, I’m mostly writing about KMKMKM and The Head On The Door, since those are the two studio albums we’ve most recently acquired on our trip through the back catalogue.  I’m thinking Wish will be the next one I will order in, in original form, as waiting for the re-issue is starting to feel like waiting for Godot.  But today, some oddments.

Firstly, a Beatles cover I’d not realised The Cure had done, which I came across by accident last night:

I really enjoyed this one.  The original is such a nonsense song, typical McCartney who surely was the Original Wiggle.  For those of you who don’t know The Wiggles:

Brett, by the way, thinks Robert Smith is secretly the Dark Wiggle.

I only like silly Beatles songs when I’m in a very silly mood, and I’ve occasionally liked Hello Goodbye in such a mood.

But I love the cover by The Cure, not because it makes it a better song, but because it’s such fun to watch them do it, especially the way Robert Smith is channelling the right kind of headspace for the song.  It makes me laugh, it’s just so well done.  I’d much prefer to listen to this cover than the original track.

…but you should hear Brett:  “I prefer the original because I’m sure it’s shorter.  What a ghastly preschool song.  And look at Simon Gallup, he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying this, he’s probably thinking he’d rather be cycling, or actually doing anything else but this.”  ?

Maybe for me it’s because I was watching the first half of the Curætion gig again last night and once again being impressed afresh by the musical versatility of this outfit – these guys seem to be able to play anything – and coming across this cover just provides another example.

I don’t like all the covers The Cure have done – I don’t like the Doors cover chiefly because I really dislike the original song, and the Cure take on Young Americans didn’t work for my ears, but their Hendrix cover – the noisy cover of Purple Haze – wow.

This out-Hendrixes Hendrix, wipes out ego with pure joy, is just stunning and fun… rarely do we think a cover outshines the original, but we think this one does. And you know the Pink Floyd song Run Like Hell? We both love that song to bits, and reckon The Cure could knock it out of the park. That song is probably not their thing like it is for us, but we think they would make an amazing cover of that song, which wouldn’t be an easy song to cover effectively but we think that particular band could do it and excel at it and add another dimension to it, just like they did with Purple Haze.

Brett, by the way, tells me his long love of this Pink Floyd song partly explains why he took to The Cure when he first heard Burn. Something about the intensity and atmosphere and guitar-drum amazingness of those tracks – and those vocals… Songs different in flavour, but equally extraordinary and with those things in common.

And so, to some of the commentary I saw under the Hello, Goodbye clip (not YT, but I see YT has plenty of material like this too ?) – why can’t people say, “I don’t like…” instead of, “This is crap.”  Ah well.  Homo un-sapiens.  Of course, in the general commentary under this cover wherever you find it is the usual moaning about how the best drummer in the universe is now lamentably absent from the line-up, to which I once again just want to say, get over yourselves and stop acting like a bunch of rural rednecks who’ll never accept someone new as a local until that person’s grandchildren have married theirs, and will moan, whine, complain, and say “Go back where you came from!” and be unkind and unwelcoming and unjust, but you know, it’s a reflection on those people, and their lack of decency and kindness and warmth, and not on the “newcomers”… I say welcome and I will look for things to love – and there’s a lot to love.

My sermon isn’t over.  In the webpage where I first chanced across this song yesterday, there was a myriad of unkind commentary on Robert Smith’s personal appearance from the Style & Image Police.  Apparently we all have to put our heads into paper bags after age 30.  Or stop using hair dye, or make-up, and conform to whatever these backseat drivers think is The Correct Way To Be.  I’ll never cease to be amazed by how many people think someone else’s personal appearance, sexual orientation etc etc is any of their business.  It’s really not.

And for what it’s worth, good on Robert Smith.  We’re all just getting photocopied over and over from the inside, that’s how it works, and just like with paper photocopies, a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy gets a bit blurry and scratchy.  But, the text is still the text, and the story is still great regardless.  I send a truckload of love to all the people in this universe who are falling apart bit by bit and still living with grace and compassion.  And one of my favourite quotes:

PS:  And the best facelift is a smile – as is amply demonstrated in the clip for that Beatles cover.  Smiles can melt your heart.  So send some smiles out to others today – a little thing that’s really a big thing.

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