|Year of release||1981|
Placed at number 20 of my album top 50 is this enchanting album by The Cure. I still think this album is stunningly beautiful, atmospheric and emotional. After all these years I still get moved by the tragedy, which is consoling at the same time.
Because of the coming concert by The Cure in Amsterdam on November 13th, 2016 and the fact Faith turned 35 years old earlier this year, this tribute to the third Cure album.
The first time I heard of/about The Cure was through the song A Forest. The single off of album Seventeen Seconds, the second The Cure album, an English band led by Robert Smith. The minimalist, futuristic, electronic music, combined with the unique voice of Robert Smith, fascinated me endlessly. I thought Seventeen Seconds was a worldclass record; a real revelation. In those days I also discovered The Clash (on which more at a later time). For the first time I discovered music I didn’t know (in)directly from the charts (as was the case with the ska artists at the time) and on top of that it was music my father didn’t know (Talking Heads, Japan, etc.): exciting!
When I heard that The Cure was about to release a new album, I knew that I had to have it! I got to work in the country (planting or picking flower-bulbs, I can’t remember exactly). I do remember the rain that day: very, very, very heavy rain! I arranged that I could collect my day’s earnings that very same day and raced on my bike, covered in mud, to recordstore North End (still exists!) at my home town of Heerhugowaard. What a sight that must have been: me in my rainwear and boots covered in mud, completely rained out. But, I was on time!. Bought the record and brought it home in a plastic bag. Such wealth!
After coming home, after showering and eating: getting the innersleeve from the cover. Getting the record from the innersleeve. Record on the record-player and off… to another planet. No record in the world can carry me off like Faith.
I kneel and wait in silence
As one by one the people slip away
Into the night
(© 1981 The Cure – The Holy Hour)
The opening bass-melody and lyrics (see above) of The Holy Hour set the tone perfectly. Doom, depression, but beautiful as well. Primary, the single that preceded the album, comes blasting in: a (relatively) hard song, in which Smith plays the (six-string) bass like a guitar. The result is a beautiful full, dark sound. Other Voices is another slow cut with a beautiful bass-melody. All Cats Are Grey closes the initial A side; a beautiful atmospheric song with a great rhythm. Still a goosebumps moment, after 35 years. A breathtaking song.
The title The Funeral Party says it all. A heavy dark song, but beautiful once again. Just as on side A, the second song on side B is also (relatively) hard and fast: Doubt. This is followed by The Drowning Man, once again a beautiful moody song. The last song, the album’s title track, is the highlight on the album. After all the beautiful songs before, Faith (the song) is the album’s greatest track (it actually is the greatest song within The Cure’s complete body of work). A stunningly beautiful bass-melody continuing through the whole song. Dark, atmospheric synthesizers, subtle guitars and those dragging drums: addictive, like a mantra. Then Robert Smith enters the song with his opening lines:
Catch me if I fall
I’m losing hold
I can’t just carry on this way
(© 1981 The Cure – Faith)
Guaranteed emotions. And it just goes on and on. Faith is a masterpiece by a band performing at the top of their capability. And at their most sombre. The song ends the album with the following lyric on repeat up to the very end.
I went away alone
With nothing left
(© 1981 The Cure – Faith)
The album Faith had to be promoted. So The Cure wnet on tour. The band came to Holland as well. During the month of June, 1981, The Cure traveled around the country in a circustent. The Dutch leg of the Picture Tour was named the Circus Tour. It generated a lot of publicity for he band (in Holland anyway). During the tour drummer Lol Tolhurst’s mother died. The music’s tragedy became ever more a reality…
I clearly remember reading the ad as seen at the side. I desperately wanted to go, but couldn’t find a way to make it happen. I couldn’t/wasn’t allowed to go alone and sadly missed out on this show. A special moment in the history of The Cure, this tour!.
The Cure resumed their regular tour after the Dutch tour (the tent was exclusively used in Holland). another special date was to follow: 07/05/1981. The Cure was part of the line-up of the Rock Werchter festival in Belgium. They were billed right before Robert Palmer. The show went perfectly. In fact, so perfect, that an encore was a definite possibility. However, the organization was less enthusiastic about the idea. Robert Palmer didn’t want his schedule to be altered. Thus, The Cure wasn’t awarded the extra time.
The band decided to prolong A Forest. It probably never lasted as long as on that day. The band kept on resytarting the song: great! At the time The Cure was finally really done, bassist Simon Gallup screamed into the microphone: Fuck Robert Palmer, fuck rock ‘n’ roll!
Because television and radio recordings were made on that day, this fragment is frequently shown/heard through the various internet channels. I own a cd-copy of the bootleg recordings of this (very good) concert.
Position within the legacy
How does Faith fit into The Cure’s entire body of work? The album is widely considered as part 2 of a trilogy of desolate, depressed, dark (sometimes even called suicidal) Cure albums. With the preceding Seventeen Seconds and the following Pornography, Faith is part of the group’s goth phase. A wrong moniker in my opinion: I think The Cure is more postpunk than goth during this period (Siouxsie & The Banshees fits the goth moniker way better). Apart from this labeling: these three albums are most definitely connected through the thematics and atmosphere. It’s gloomy, depressed, and completely unique.
After these albums The Cure would slowly rise from their doom-laden days and grow out to be, particularly from 1985’s The Head On The Door onwards, a huge band. The theme of doom would be part of an album occasionally, especially on Disintegration.
How do you feel about The Cure? What albums are your favorites? Faith? Or more poppy albums like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me?
Leave a comment! It is greatly appreciated!
The Cure original logo: wikimedia.org
The Cure Faith hoes images: happybirthdayvinyl.co.uk
The Cure A Forest image: ultratop.be
The Cure 1981: slicingupeyeballs.com
The Cure live 1981: Greg Allen
The Cure tent & Circus tour 1981 ad: thecureinholland.nl
The Cure Seventeen Seconds & Pornography images: musiconvinyl.com
I am a great fan of Faith, especially when I was 18/19 years old. Nowadays I gravitate more towards Kiss Me, Kiss Me,Kiss Me, mostly because it offers a wider variety of music. For all that though, my favorite albums would be Head In The Door, or Disintegration.
Faith is consistently strong throughout, Primary has always been the one song that I play most though.
For the definitive live version of the song Faith, might I suggest the version played in Rome, 1989. Dedicated to the victims of Tiananmen square, it is filled with an intensity and anger throughout that I haven’t heard anywhere else in the Cure live oeuvre.
Thanks for your reply, will definitely check out the live version of Faith.
Regarding their greatest album; funny you mentioning Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. There are more who mentioned that album. Based on that, I re-listened the album, but it gasn’t clicked on me yet. It’s a nice album, but nowhere the greatest.
For me, The Head On The Door is in the top 3, together with Seventeen Seconds. Disintegration comes at 4 or 5…