The Cure
Acoustic Daze
(Speedball Company SBC019)

I found this 1991 boot while rummaging through a fellow staffer's CD collection, and figured I would take a stroll back through the old college days, when Morrissey was considered cool and The Cure were about at their peak, long before being rendered irrelevant by grunge and, subsequently, bubblegum. I still hold The Cure close to my heart, and I think that Robert Smith has written a pretty amazing catalog of songs – he's one of the real originals in rock music, often imitated but never imitative.

Acoustic Daze presents The Cure's 6-song MTV "Unplugged" set along with three filler tracks with no related significance. The acoustic tracks are excellent and well-known to any Cure fan, and they're presented in good sound quality. They stuck to their more acousticky tunes for the set, and I remember it being kind of a weird set-list because none of the songs were current.

Typical of the Cure to not bother promoting their recent material when given the spotlight – but it's actually great, because they stick to doing all great songs: "Let's Go to Bed," "Just Like Heaven," "The Caterpillar," "The Blood," "Boys Don't Cry," and "The Walk." Listening now I realize that this show was probably from about the peak of my Cure fascination, which of course I consider "their peak."

What an underrated band, now that I think of it. They still have the cult following, but now that the mainstream has turned away coldly, it's hard to understand why they were unable to hold the public's attention. Perhaps it was just too much of the same thing, for too long – and people my age gradually grew up and grew out of their inevitable Cure phases. That's why I love ransacking CD collections of people who don't sell back CD's – you really find cool stuff that you forgot you liked a lot.

The unplugged set is laid back and pretty subtle, but very well done. "Just Like Heaven" with a toy piano doing the lead guitar part, that's just priceless. The filler tracks are a bit frustrating – two are the same song ("To the Sky," in an extended mix as well as an original mix) and the other is a mix of "Hot, Hot, Hot" that is hardly different from the album version at all. "To the Sky" is an amazing song, strongly underscoring the fact that Robert Smith has thrown away more good songs than, say, Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows will ever write in total. Apparently it's a Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me outtake – you know, that probably could have been a good 3-record album.

What I like about this CD is precisely that it is so hodgepodge – the cover is totally bland and the selection is pretty random, but even a bad bootleg is interesting, and this one is pretty good. I love that sense of alternate reality that comes from listening to a boot, and this one has that in spades. Overall, a worthy CD that makes me wish The Cure would release like a 10 CD box set of unreleased material and b-sides – I argue that it would be amazingly solid.

And just for kicks, here's some of the other discs listed in the booklet as part of "Speedball Company's" catalog –

Now there's a legitimate label. I suppose that this Cure material is probably available on better-compiled bootleg CD's, but this one was handy, so there you have it.

Review by Bob Darling