Join the Dots
To fans of The Cure, Join the Dots was a long time coming. Unless you were the obsessed fan (like me), you probably didn’t have most of the songs on this wonderfully packaged four-disc set of rarities. Being the nerd that I am, I paid the $45.00 sticker price for one song, “Possession.” Nevertheless, I can’t say enough about how wonderful this product is, especially given how long it’s been since a b-sides package was released by these guys; 1986 was the last time, as the b-side to the Standing on a Beach cassette.
There are 70 songs in this box set, and what makes them so special is that they chronicle, rather accurately, the progression of The Cure’s sound from the late 1970’s to today. If you’re a novice fan, The Cure was your standard post-punk band in the late 1970’s, as evidenced by songs like “Plastic Passion.” With the turn of the decade, their music became more introspective and somber, which the song “Descent,” originally a b-side to “Primary,” documents well. Following the journey into darkness and solitude came a violent explosion of anger and frustration in the form of 1982’s Pornography (my favorite!), which is represented in the box set by the propulsive and tribal “Splintered in Her Head.”
Had The Cure stopped in 1982, they would be legendary in the same way that Joy Division is. Lucky for us they didn’t, and the post-_Pornography_ period offered up a bevy of new sounds, as Robert Smith tinkered with all manner of weird and bizarre music, from jazz, to electronica, to flute driven excursions into the great beyond!
The first disc of this box set documents The Cure’s (well, Robert Smith’s, actually) greatest period of work and creativity. The remaining discs showcase a Robert Smith who has found his niche and a sound for The Cure: long, dramatic, guitar-driven songs replete with emotion and, occasionally, violence and despair. Each b-side corresponds well with its accompanying album, except for the Kiss Me… b-sides. Kiss Me… is guitar-driven, but the b-sides are flowery and twinkly. Disintegration is dark and moody, as are the b-sides. Wish is a bit more optimistic than Disintegration, and the b-sides from Wish could be put together to make a legendary Cure album on their own! Wild Mood Swings’s b-sides are much better than the actual album, and the Bloodflowers b-sides (actually outtakes) are just as surprisingly magical and wonderful as the accompanying full length.
There are also various one-offs and anomalies thrown in for good measure. But, in pure capitalist Robert Smith style, the real hidden goodies are being saved; every album in The Cure’s back catalogue is going to be re-released in 2004 (starting in May), with each album featuring a bonus disc of rarities and goodies from each recording session! I’m excited, as are you, I bet.
The artwork and booklet that comes with Join the Dots is spectacular, as it explains the motivation behind most of the b-sides and offers funny little stories for good measure. Point is, there are a lot sillier ways that you could spend $45.00 than buying this absolutely wonderful documentary of The Cure, one of history’s most innovative and ferociously unique musical institutions.