BOOK REVIEW: The Cure: A Perfect Dream By Ian Gittins

BOOK REVIEW: The Cure: A Perfect Dream  By Ian Gittins 1

A Perfect Dream tells the story about a band that formed in 1976 in Crawley beginning their lives as “The Obelisk”, then “Malice” then “Easy Cure” and finally “The Cure”. A Perfect Dream coincides with the 40th anniversary of The Cure’s debut single: “Killing an Arab” influenced by Albert Camus’s novel The Stranger. A Perfect Dream tells the story of a band who were “part of the new wave era of musical experimentation that followed the punk rock explosion”.

In many respects, The Cure’s success is quite miraculous. According to frontman Robert Smith: “None of us are natural performers… I’m not at ease on a stage; I don’t like talking into a microphone” and did not always “particularly reach out to the crowds who turned out to see them”. Furthermore, no one actually wanted to be the frontman and lead singer so The Cure initially recruited an acquaintance, Martin Creasy who only made it through one gig, they then recruited Gary X and then Peter O’Toole who then quit to live on a kibbutz in Israel. It was only at this point that Smith took on the job of the vocalist.

Being chronological rather than thematic, Gittins introduces us to over forty years of The Cure. He also offers a captivating history of the early lives of founding band members Robert Smith and Laurence Andrew “Lol” Tolhurst and how they first met at school in 1964. At times the only thing they shared was a school bus which took them to St Francis of Assisi infant school in Crawley; it was not until they both went to the Notre Dame Middle School in Pound Hill, Crawley where their friendship blossomed. Gittins also chronologically lists all The Cure’s LP’s with artwork, release dates, track listing, production team, where the LP was recorded, musicians (personnel) involved, label and global chart positions. A timeline of events would have been a welcome bonus; nonetheless Gittins knowledge and his conveyance of his knowledge of The Cure cannot be questioned in A Perfect Dream.

The Cure graduated through many rites of passage to reach a level of international fame which was rewarded with many sold-out Wembley stadium tour dates and thirty million record sales. Gittins seldom leaves a stone unturned.  The first serious interest in The Cure (when they were first called The Cure) came from a man the band thought “bore a certain resemblance to (former) Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi”: New Zealander Chris Parry (who had previously signed The Jam). Parry took an interest after hearing their four-track demo. Parry’s interest provided many opportunities as The Cure “were able to sneakily use” The Jam’s “far better and more expensive equipment”. In 1978 The Cure then performed a four-track session for John Peel on his Radio One show. Soon bands including Joy Division would support them at their sell-out London Marquee shows.

BOOK REVIEW: The Cure: A Perfect Dream By Ian Gittins

With the band disliking being “pigeonholed” to a genre in 1983 they changed their image which produced a string of singles including: “The Love Cats”, “In Between Days” and “Close To Me”. The band would then break America, release a live album and a greatest hits LP by 1985. By the late 1980’s there was “Cure-mania” with “fans congregating at every hotel” Smith and his wife stayed at. The band needed armed police to escort them from their hotels to the stadiums they played. In 1989 The Cure would release their highest charting UK single “Lullaby” which entered at number five. By 1990 The Cure had headlined Glastonbury twice.  Their 1992 LP “Wish” would be the first LP to reach number 1 in the UK.

As well as the good times Gittins equally pays tribute to bad, dark and messy times the band experienced such as when Tolhurst was fired from the band and the following lengthy high profile London High Court case Tolhurst would bring against Smith and Parry. Gittins also produces a detailed retelling of the tensions between Smith and Simon Gallup which led to the band temporarily cancelling their 1982 European tour and Gallup initially being fired from the band. Gittins also allows The Cure to settle any misinterpretations about the band: “the biggest misconception about The Cure is that we’re a Goth band. We were never Goths.”

Interest in The Cure is still as strong as ever. In 2018 The Cure headlined British Summertime Festival in Hyde Park on 7th July. Across a beautiful and durable luxurious hardback book with 240 pages, superb colour photographs on superior quality paper; Giffins deftly applies his knowledge from previously interviewing and reviewing The Cure into offering a revelation of this legendary global international band worthy of a luxurious and high-quality hardback bound book such as this.

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