Covers are an essential part of music. For a start they let spotty 15-year-olds dream of rock’n’roll stardom, but they also allow bands to demonstrate how varied their record – or MP3 - collection is.
The Cure have long been one of the most covered bands. Firstly, and most obviously, because their songs are so bloomin’ great. But secondly, because their tunes are incredibly adaptable.
So, without further ado, allow us to present 10 (mostly great) Cure covers - well, nine and one bootleg - that run the gamut from downtempo trip hop to choral symphonies by way of slacker rock and disembowelled electronica.
(Images: Rex Features)
If Editors are purveyors of a slightly more palatable sense of sonic doom for the 21st Century – as is the general idea when talking about Mr Edith Bowman and boys – then their reworking of Lullaby should be sprightlier than The Cure’s 1989 original, right? Wrong! If anything, this is even more haunted and dystopic. Imagine Leonard Cohen delivering a stark and solemn lament and you’re on the right track. Wonderful.
Tricky: The Love Cats
Tricky is no stranger to exploring the darker nuances of music and his stripped back, almost gossamer light cover of The Love Cats is as hypnotic as it is compelling. This live version takes the slinky tribal blues of the studio cut and transforms it into a foreboding anguished wail before taking it into hypnotic trip hop territory. Can’t see it soundtracking school discos like the original did, mind.
Dinosaur Jr: Just Like Heaven
The quintessential Cure cover. Released the same year as the original, slacker rock gods Dinosaur Jr pile layers of fuzz upon untold levels of distortion and come up with something wonderfully unique. Just Like Heaven remains one of The Cure’s most popular songs to interpret – as witnessed by Katie Melua’s insipid 2005 version. Safe to say, she wasn’t inspired by J Mascis’s anthemic, proto grunge rendering of the song.
Deftones: If Only Tonight We Could Sleep
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep was taken from the same album as Just Like Heaven – 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. However, while Dinosaur Jr took the latter and made hay, alternative metal types Deftones’ homage to The Cure is fairly faithful to the original. The drawn out mystical Eastern strings predominate and only a bit of studio wizardry distinguishes it.
The Big Pink: Lovesong
Forget Adele’s rather dry, samba-like, adaptation ; and the less said about 311’s cod reggae version the better. The most ambitious cover of one of The Cure’s most definitive releases is by east London hipsters The Big Pink. Slowing the pace to a grinding halt and adding a chilling electronic pulse works wonders. It’s crepuscular, malevolent and tripped out.
AFI: The Hanging Garden
Goth punk hardcore rockers AFI gave The Hanging Garden a suitably neo-metal edge when they covered the song in 1998. Full of epic bombast, it’s designed specifically for stadiums, unlike The Cure’s far more disturbing original.
Superchunk: In Between Days
Wry American indie rockers Superchunk share none of The Cure’s moody aesthetic so their ace cover of In Between Days demonstrates that Robert Smith’s songs are among the most versatile ever recorded.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers: Friday I'm In Love
You might not immediately think ‘this song needs a choral arrangement’ when listening to Friday, I’m In Love, so it’s to the credit of Belgian Women’s choir Scala & Kolacny Brothers that they transform The Cure’s majestic 1992 hit so effortlessly. Infused with stately grandeur, this is one of the more surreal treatments of The Cure’s back catalogue. It’s also one of the best.
Razorlight: Boys Don’t Cry
Not every act covering The Cure gets it right – yes The Cranberries we are talking about you . But even more risible is this attempt at the glorious Boys Don’t Cry by the odious Razorlight. Never knowingly understated, Razorlight have designed this to be an indie disco triumph; in reality it’s a flaccid out-of-tune joke.
The Cure v TLC: Close To Me v No Scrubs
Mash ups have something of a bad press these days – granted, it might have something to do with that awful description. Mash up? Sounds so… wrong. However, this splicing of Close To Me and TLC’s pop classic No Scrubs has an irrefutable charm. The Cure go futuristic R’n’B? TLC try on some goth dance for size? You betcha. And while we’re on the subject, here’s another top notch, erm, mash up with Gorillaz.