Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Cure - Japanese Whispers

This week (December 6th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of Japanese Whispers, the third studio album from the Cure. This 1983 record hit number 181 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 26 in the UK, number 13 in Australia, and number 8 in New Zealand. The album was a compilation of singles and B-sides that the group released during the year from November 1982 to that time and included the tracks that made up of The Walk extended play that had been released in North America during the summer of 1983.

Assisting Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst on the album were Steve Goulding and Andy Anderson (on drums) and Phil Thornalley (on bass).

Side one begins with "Let's Go To Bed", which as a single charted at number 44 in the UK, number 17 in New Zealand and number 15 in Australia. I like the quirky synth opening and the bouncing beat on this one. It reminds me of parties back during my first year of college.

"The Dream", the B-side to “The Walk” follows. It has an interesting, uneven syncopation between the drums and the keyboards.

"Just One Kiss", the B-side to “Let’s Go To Bed”, has an ethereal quality floating above the tribal beat foundation.

"The Upstairs Room" counters the up-beat rhythms with a dark, melancholy lyrical content.

Side two opens with "The Walk"; as a single from earlier in the year, it reached number 34 in Australia, number 19 in Ireland and number 12 in the UK. This one has a distinctive opening hook that appears again later on in the bridge and again as the song fades out.

"Speak My Language" compliments the later single “The Lovecats”; as the B-side it has very similar musical elements.

I like the rich, cascading synths that play a big part in "Lament".

The closing track "The Lovecats", as a single, charted at number 23 in New Zealand, number 15 in Ireland, number 7 in the UK and number 6 in Australia. The bass hook, the plunky piano and Smith's scatting all add to its jazzy ragtime vibe. A number of artists have covered the song in the three decades since.

The singles presented here on Japanese Whispers really got me into listening to the Cure. Being into the new-wave/alternative dance scene during my late high-school/early college days, they fell right into the synth-pop genre that I was overloading on at the time. Because so many of the tracks from here can be found on other collections (ones with the hits and ones with B-sides/rarities), finding this exact album today is difficult. Luckily, in the digital age it is easy enough to rearrange a play list to mirror the original vinyl listening order.

For their 1982 album Pornography, click here.

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