Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Cure- The Head on the Door


Wikipedia lists The Cure’s 1986 album “The Head on the Door” as ‘post punk’ as it did with The Smiths album of the same year. However, I remember back in 1986, people were calling these bands, ‘intellectual rock.’ The belief was that many of the people who were into both The Smiths and The Cure as well as REM, whom I’ll be posting about next, were college students. Well, it was when I got to Queen Mary College in London that I was introduced to The Smiths and it was a friend from Stockton State College in New Jersey who introduced me to The Cure. Maybe someone had a point about the intellectual label.

My initial reaction to this album was that it was too pop for my personal tastes. Remember, I was chasing the metal in this year. However, listening to the album after a few beers and possibly other substances, I can begin to appreciate the intricacy of the musicianship on the album a bit more and I appreciate the musical smarts of Robert Smith. What he did was to take the traditional doom and gloom of his song writing and set it to slightly more danceable music. I do remember some Cure material being played at college discos in both the US and UK.

Thirty plus years on, I no longer cast a song aside just because there are synths in place of power chords. While the opener, “In Between Days” was definitely marked to be a top 40 pop song, the rest of the album veers away from the synth pop I so disliked back then. Tracks two through six are especially indicative of this. There is something I like about each of the songs in this line up. “Kyoto” has the gloomy feel which The Cure were best known for and it’s even more the case with “The Blood,” which I like even more. “Six Different Ways” has an acoustic guitar intro which sucks me in and the rest of the track keeps my attention. However, my top track on “The Head at the Door” has to be “Push.” The guitar is the most heard instrument on the song, and it’s not even the hardest track on the album, that one goes to “A Night Like This.” However, in this case, harder does not mean better and while I like “A Night Like This,” it’s not the best track on the album.

As for the rest of the album, “The Baby Screams” reminds me of very early U2. I’m talking about their debut “Boy” album so that’s a good thing. However, it’s followed by the second single, “Close to Me.” This is definitely a danceable tune and while it’s not bad, it is a little bit of a comedown from the previous songs. “Screw” starts like it’s going to be a bit of a rocker but then turns into more of a dance tune and it does put me off it a little. The same can be said for the closer, “Sinking.” Most of it sounds like a dance tune until you get near the end. Then Robert Smith takes it into a new direction enough to take the album out on a high.

Track Listing:

  1. In Between Days
  2. Kyoto
  3. The Blood
  4. Six Different Ways
  5. Push
  6. The Baby Screams
  7. Close to Me
  8. A Night Like This
  9. Screw
  10. Sinking


Robert Smith- vocals, guitar, keyboards

Lol Tolhurst- keyboards

Porl Thompson- guitar, keyboards

Simon Gallup- bass

Boris Williams- drums, percussion

Ron Howe- saxophone on “A Night Like This”

I guess Steve Lukather never went over to England

Let me be honest here, while I appreciate The Cure’s “The Head on the Door” album more today than I did back in 1986, it doesn’t make me want to go back in time and burn my metal collection. Saying that, if I ever went to an 1980s disco, I would want songs from the album played there. It’s best for that although it does provide a good alternative if like me, you sometimes want to listen to music beyond your chosen favourite genre.

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6 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Cure- The Head on the Door”

  1. I was just listening to this yesterday. I’d describe it more as alternative pop – their early material was definitely post-punk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve danced to chunks of this and loved it a lot, then and now. I prefer pop Cure to gloomy Cure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I might have danced to this as well after many bee0. I would like to visit some gloomy Cure though.


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