Posts Tagged ‘Roger O’Donnell’

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Happy 20th Anniversary to The Cure’s eleventh studio album “Bloodflowers”, originally released in the UK February 14th 2000 and in the US February 15th, 2000.

The Cure greeted the millennium with their eleventh studio album Bloodflowers, a deliberate statement from singer and guitarist Robert Smith written in the run-up to his fortieth birthday. Whereas predecessors Wish (1992) and Wild Mood Swings (1996) were more exploratory entanglements by the British group’s five members, Bloodflowers shows Smith fully reclaiming the artistic reins, just as he had 10 years prior with Disintegration (1989). 

At the time he was making Disintegration, Smith was recently married and confronting the crisis of turning 30. His meticulous care in delivering on his vision for Disintegration was not only a gift to himself and the band, but to fans as well. Nearly 31 years later, the gorgeous opus continues to stir love and tears among all who come to know it. But, perfection is never easy to attain. And, Smith was well-aware of his obsessive, if agonizing, ways.

Speaking circa Bloodflowers’ released in February 2000, Smith commented, “I was very difficult to work with on this album, as I was with Disintegration, for that reason because I insisted everything was done exactly as I wanted. So, it’s kind of unpleasant band members really cos they don’t feel that they’re of any value, I suppose, when we’re making the record. Although I try and impress upon them the fact that without the group, it wouldn’t sound like The Cure….Who’s in the group defines the sound. But, with Wish and with Wild Mood Swings, they were group collaborations and everyone had a say. And I would kind of be just a fifth member of the band really a lot of the time.” 

Only about half of the songs seemed to have any real depth. To my barely adult ears, the new album sounded somewhat recycled and uninspired. “39,” the penultimate track from Bloodflowers  I caught up to the headspace Smith was in when he penned that song. But, it was also distressing to feel the gravity of the lyrics and realize them to be true: “Half my life I’ve been here / Half my life in flames / Using all I ever had to keep the fire ablaze / To keep the fire ablaze / To keep the fire ablaze / To keep the fire ablaze…But there’s nothing left to burn.”

After giving so much of yourself to life, whatever that may entail—relationships, career, artistic expression, yourself—it can be incredibly draining. It’s a struggle to find the energy to keep going through the motions, and if you do, it’s often devoid of emotion, which is all the more devastating for someone whose identity is so entrenched in feeling.

But, if Bloodflowers met midlife with this scorching warning, it also offers mature meditative acceptance that youthful ambitions and hopes may blind us to. Even in their earliest moments, Cure lyrics and instrumentation held a wistful longing, a romantic pull against reality, a nostalgic yearning for what never was. And although so much of Smith’s poetry, and the accompanying melodies, acknowledge the painful, often tragic, rift between fantasy and reality, time and time again, the records return us to this dreamlike world. With Bloodflowers, Smith consciously faces these idealistic tendencies. His choice to release the album on Valentine’s Day offers further evidence.

Smith explained, “I just thought it would be kind of darkly romantic…Valentine’s Day when you’re young particularly is a day of unrequited love. It’s actually one of the most depressing days of the year because you find yourself unable to tell the person you’re lusting or loving that it’s you….There’s elements of that, I think, that are in Bloodflowers…that sense of love never ever being able to be perfect, like my constant desire for things to be just as they are, as they should be and for them always to be as they are, which is not how I want them to be.”

As the tracks progress on Bloodflowers, the illusory narrative of youth asserts itself before eventually withering into quiet acquiescence, delivering waves of the heart-melting pangs, tingles and thrills long synonymous with The Cure

“Out of This World” is the enchantingly woozy opener, immediately drawing us into a dreamy reverie no sane soul would ever want to crawl out from—even if we know we someday must. It captivated me the moment I first heard it 20 years ago and tranquilizes me still. As mentioned, I’ve come to comprehend the sage musings of Bloodflowers, but if this song was the album’s only treasure, I’d cling tight to it forever. And in many ways, that’s what this starry-eyed, wonder-filled intro is all about.

The escapist sentiments continue into the writhing odyssey of “Watching Me Fall,” which thrusts headlong into the expansive night with nocturnal seductions and terrors that would serve handsomely as the abstract to David Lynch’s next film. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the song takes place in Tokyo, which is where I chose to celebrate my 40th birthday. (Have I already mentioned how Smith is always way ahead of me?)

Although my take on Bloodflowers has shifted in the last few years, I can’t say I’ve warmed up to the album’s third and fourth tracks, “Where the Birds Always Sing” and “Maybe Someday.” However, Smith has noted the latter was included to add a little upbeat levity to an otherwise heavy record. Unsurprisingly, it was also the first promotional track for U.S. radio, which is telling, especially since Smith was adamant about not releasing any singles for Bloodflowers.

The remainder of the album showcases the breadth of The Cure’s songwriting talents, with songs like “The Last Day of Summer” and “There Is No If” evoking some of the band’s sweetest ‘80s B-sides. In fact, although the two flow together well, “There Is No If” was written in Smith’s adolescence, signifying a constancy in character despite his newfound perspective. I’m so glad this courageously simple tune about innocent love found the light of day, and revel in its placement between the solitary depleted spirit of “The Last Day of Summer” and the shared disillusionment of “The Loudest Sound.”

It’s been so long I can’t quite remember what I envisioned upon first hearing “The Loudest Sound,” but now I see a relationship that hasn’t run its course. Rather, it lives on in calm perpetuity. The couple have grown old together and care for each other deeply. The chimes are no longer bursting and the edge-of-the-world exhilaration is no more, but they both remember what those heart-racing moments were like together. And while the tenor of their connection has evolved, they’re still side by side, united by the commonality of their youth and the loneliness of aging. Despite the silence, his thoughts still manage to echo hers. When I was younger, I probably thought of these lyrics more in the vein of The Cure’s “Apart” (from Wish), but Smith’s ever-masterful words are well-suited to new interpretations.

As Bloodflowers approaches its end with the aforementioned “39” and the closing title track, it pushes past the acknowledgement of our individual finite capabilities into a greater spiritual understanding. The fire may indeed be almost out, but it’s better to accept that as part of life than to fight reality. 

Before Bloodflowers, the Cure trilogy consisted of their second, third and fourth albums— Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981) and Pornography (1982)—as they were created in close succession and thematically related. However, once Bloodflowers was completed, Smith reassessed the trilogy as Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers, citing these works as the three definitive achievements in the band’s career. I still wouldn’t say Bloodflowers is in my top three Cure albums, but I certainly have gained newfound appreciation in the last few years and see how it rounds out a story, for Smith the individual and the artist—and how the two are irrevocably intertwined.

Smith recalled, “When we were making it, everyone in the group believed that it would be the last Cure album because I wanted to have that sense of finality. There’s no point in making a record like Bloodflowers if you really think you’re going to do something else. I wanted it so that Bloodflowers would be so perfectly The Cure, there was no point in making another Cure album.”

The Cure

  • Robert Smith – guitar, keyboard, 6-string bass, vocals
  • Simon Gallup – bass
  • Perry Bamonte – guitar, 6-string bass
  • Jason Cooper – percussion, drums
  • Roger O’Donnell – keyboard

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Exclusive to Vivid LIVE, alternative British rock legends The Cure brought their magisterial, slow-burn masterpiece “Disintegration” to the Opera House Concert Hall for five shows to mark the 30th anniversary of their career-defining epic. This was the world premiere of these 30th anniversary performances, and their only Australian engagement. This live stream was directed by British filmmaker Nick Wickham, a close collaborator of The Cure’s who is known for his work with Iggy Pop, Joe Cocker, Annie Lennox and Madonna.

Released in 1989, Disintegration peaked at No 3 in the UK album charts, making it the band’s highest-charting record. Songs such as Lullaby, Lovesong, Pictures of You and Fascination Street cemented the band’s success in the United States too. By 1992, the album, described by this publication as “exquisitely morose”, had sold more than three million copies worldwide.

The Cure played the record with a full band, featuring lead singer Robert Smith alongside Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper, Roger O’Donnell and Reeves Gabrels.

This will be the second time the Cure have played Vivid Live after 2011’s Reflections shows, at which the band played their first three albums in full: Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds and Faith.

This time, the band will play Disintegration along with other tracks from their back catalogue.

Today marks 30 years since the release of the Disintegration album – and we are very pleased to announce to Cure fans around the world that we will be global live streaming our final performance from the Sydney Opera House on 30th May, where we will be playing the album in its entirety – plus extras! – at Vivid LIVE. We look forward to celebrating the anniversary of this special album with you all… …And remember: this album was mixed to be played loud… so turn it up!” — Robert Smith, 2nd May 2019.

The Cure’s fifth and final performance of “Disintegration” at Sydney Opera House on 30th May 2019

Setlist:

B-Sides and Demos 1. Delirious Night 17:20 2. Fear of Ghosts 23:44 3. No Heart 30:54 4. Esten 34:20 5. 2 Late 38:17 6. Out of Mind 41:10 7. Babble 44:45 Disintegration 8. Plainsong 49:15 9. Pictures of You 59:31 10. Closedown 1:06:44 11. Lovesong 1:11:00 12. Last Dance 1:14:40 13. Lullaby 1:19:54 14. Fascination Street 1:24:46 15. Prayers for Rain 1:29:47 16. The Same Deep Water as You 1:35:34 17. Disintegration 1:44:47 18. Homesick 1:53:10 19. Untitled 2:00:18 Encore 20. Burn 2:10:55 21. Three Imaginary Boys 2:17:52 22. Pirate Ships (Wendy Waldman cover) 2:21:30

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There is no other band in pop or rock who is able to master the balance between gloom and radiance quite like The Cure. And when it was released on May 2nd, 1989, no other album in their catalouge reflected both the darkness and light of their sound like “Disintegration”.
The band’s eighth LP was intended to be a return to the more oblique, gothic undertones of their landmark 1982 LP Pornography The epic, synth-heavy pastiche of opening track “Plainsong,” “Closedown” and the nine-minute “The Same Deep Water As You” all remain beacons of beautiful sorrow that seemed miles away from the pop vibrancy of such mid-80s faves as The Head On The Door and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.

Disintegration and this particular classic lineup of The Cure, comprised of fearless leader and vastly underrated guitar hero Robert Smith; longtime bassist Simon Gallup; guitarist Porl Thompson; drummer Boris Williams; keyboardist Roger O’Donnell; and original drummer Lol Tolhurst, who didn’t play on the album but provided the basis for the song “Homesick” managed to channel the pop maneuvering of songs like “The Love Cats,” “Close To Me” and “Just Like Heaven” into a dark wave of black romance throughout the record’s 72 minutes.

The romantic gloom on Disintegration is more achingly beautiful depressive wallowers everywhere rejoiced. Perfect for any introspective occasion it also happens to be the perfect breakup album, including the album title! If there was a class called Album Openers , “Plainsong” would take up the first and last sections of the course. We relive the happy times captured in pictures “Pictures of You”, experience the high of expressing one’s love and devotion (“Lovesong”) only to experience the sadness of impending heartache (“Last Dance”) and the nightmares that follow (“Lullaby”). There’s also anger and desperation in songs like “Fascination Street,” “Prayers for Rain,” and “The Same Deep Water as You” in which Smith laments “can’t you see I try?/swimming the same deep water as you is hard.” With the sounds of breaking glass the epic title track begins where Smith describes his own failings. “Homesick” has Smith begging for another “go” before walking away and the album closer (“Untitled”) has Smith sadly admitting that he’ll “never lose this pain/never dream of you again.” Full of shimmery guitars, synths, and emotional lyrics, the album creates a lush atmosphere of love and loss. Perfect for heartbreak in the dark.

Each of the four singles taken from Disintegration provided more momentum for The Cure’s visibility and success on the charts across the globe. And while songs like “Fascination Street,” “Lullaby” and “Pictures of You” did, “Fascination” peaked at No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart, it was the album’s most pop-positive moment, “Lovesong,” that skyrocketed them to the No. 2 position as well as largely universal acclaim to music listeners beyond the goth crowd.

“Despite making challenging music that deals with the biggest themes, their impact has been gigantic,” proclaimed Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails in his speech inducting The Cure into the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “They’ve sold the best part of who gives a shit how many million records and been an essential touchstone in the genres of post-punk, new wave, goth, alternative, shoegaze and post-rock. They’ve been in and out of fashion so many times in the last four decades that they ended up transcending fashion itself. Though they might be a hip name to drop in 2019, this wasn’t always the case. Their dedication to pushing sonic and artistic boundaries while making music for the ages wasn’t always rewarded with glowing reviews in the press. But they never failed to attract a passionate, intelligent and loyal fanbase who always knew the truth: The Cure are one of the most unique, most brilliant, most heartbreakingly excellent rock bands the world has ever known.”

‘Disintegration’

Dropping through sky, through the glass of the roof, through the roof of your mouth, through the mouth of your eye, through the eye of the needle / It’s easier for me to get closer to heaven than ever feel whole again I never said I would stay to the end / I knew I would leave you with babies and everything.” Running more than eight minutes, the title track to the band’s best album features Robert Smith at his wordiest … and nastiest. It’s basically a cycle-of-life thing, with childhood abuses giving way to similar adult patterns. Chilling.

‘Pictures of You’

“Pictures of You” is the fourth and final single from the British rock band the Cure’s 1989 album Disintegration. Called “chilly goth-rock” and “accessible…synth-pop”, the song has a single version which is a shorter edit of the album version.
“If only I’d thought of the right words, I could have held on to your heart / If only I’d thought of the right words, I wouldn’t be breaking apart all my pictures of you.Robert Smith has said that he wrote ‘Pictures of You’ after a fire at his home. Among the remains were some pictures of his wife in a wallet. But read the lyrics, and you’ll discover something that cuts way deeper: a broken heart and shattered memories.

‘Fascination Street’

a 1989 North-American-only single by the English rock band The Cure from their album Disintegration.Their American record company refused the band’s original choice of song“Lullaby” as the first single (it was the lead single in the UK and was released in the U.S. later) and used “Fascination Street” instead.
The song is notable for its extended bass introduction. “I like you in that like I like you to scream / But if you open your mouth, then I can’t be responsible for quite what goes in or to care what comes out.”The first single from the Cure’s breakthrough U.S. album is one of Robert Smith’s vaguest songs. Is it about sex? Control? A breakdown of a relationship? We can’t say for sure, but the menacing rhythm hints that something sinister is going on. A perfect summation of the Cure at their best.

“Lovesong”

The Cure, released “Lovesong” as the third single from their eighth studio album Disintegration in 1989. The song saw considerable success in the United States, where it was a number two hit.

The song is performed in A minor and is built around a distinctive bass riff. The verses follow an Am/G/F/Em chord progression, which changes to F/G/Am/C in the choruses. The lyrics are simple, with each verse having the same structure (“Whenever I’m alone with you / you make me feel like I am … again”). Speaking of its simplicity and unusually upbeat nature compared to the other tracks on Disintegration, Smith stated, “It’s an open show of emotion. It’s not trying to be clever. It’s taken me ten years to reach the point where I feel comfortable singing a very straightforward love song”

The single version of the song is almost exactly the same as the album version, but the mix is slightly different, with extra reverb and harmonies added to Smith’s vocals. In addition, in the instrumental section between the first two verses, the guitar doesn’t join the keyboards like it does on the album.