The Second Disc

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Reissue Theory: The Cure, “Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea”

with 11 comments

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. The recent success of some U.S. dates from The Cure have us thinking about their first compilation – a must-own for alt-rock fans when it was released a quarter-century ago – and how its best configuration deserves a release on CD.

With a catalogue that stretches back to the late ’70s and starts off far more solidly than most bands, it was a treat to see The Cure celebrate their early years in 2011 with a series of “Reflections” concerts, which saw them perform their first three albums (and more hits and rarities) in their entirety. (The run closed with three shows at New York City’s Beacon Theatre this past weekend, and frontman Robert Smith ended the last concert with a promising “We’ll see you again next year.”)

The run got Second Disc HQ thinking about the band’s first compilation, 1986’s Standing on a Beach: The Singles (or, as it was known on some CD copies, Staring at the Sea), which captured the group’s original gamut of college rock hits (including early classics like “Killing an Arab,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Lovecats,” “In Between Days” and “Close to Me”) before 1987’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and 1989’s Disintegration took the group to a beautiful round of crossover pop success.

In retrospect, what made Standing on a Beach so exciting at the time was its clever use of formats. Vinyl listeners had a taut 13 tracks to enjoy on their edition, while CD connoisseurs could take advantage of the longer playing times with an additional four non-single tracks (“10:15 Saturday Night,” “Play for Today,” “Other Voices” and “A Night Like This,” all of which received airplay through their music videos). But cassette owners had it best. The 13 tracks of the vinyl edition of Staring were on one side of the tape, while another dozen “unavailable B-sides” (all previously released on vinyl) made up the other side.

Ultimately, Standing on a Beach became the group’s highest-charting album at the time, peaking at No. 4 in the U.K. and No. 48 in America and ultimately selling two million copies on our shores. Less successful but just as intriguing for collectors was one single released to promote the set: a remix of 1979’s “Boys Don’t Cry,” featuring a new vocal track from Robert Smith. Fans didn’t warm up to the “New Voice – New Mix” too well – Smith’s vocal sort of clashes against the original track, and it only went to No. 22 in 1986 – but there was manna for collectors in the form of two previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1979 on the B-side, “Pillbox Tales” and “Do the Hansa” (the latter of which was performed for the first time by the band, fittingly enough, at their last Reflections show).

While all of the B-sides were collated on Rhino’s Join the Dots box set in 2004 (freeing up space for demos, rough mixes and session material on the label’s ongoing series of deluxe editions), it would be fun to see a reissue of Staring at the Sea with its original B-sides playlist reinstated, as either a two-disc set or a novel cassette reissue. Throw the remixed “Boys” on there (which should make the first time the track’s appeared on CD) and its two B-sides, and you have a nice little curio for collectors.

Go on, go on and check out our dream deluxe arrangement of Standing on a Beach after the jump!

The Cure, Standing on a Beach/Staring at the Sea: The Singles (originally released as Fiction FIX H/HC 12/829 239-2, 1986)

Disc 1: Original compilation and bonus track

  1. Killing an Arab
  2. 10:15 Saturday Night
  3. Boys Don’t Cry
  4. Jumping Someone Else’s Train
  5. A Forest
  6. Play for Today
  7. Primary
  8. Other Voices
  9. Charlotte Sometimes
  10. The Hanging Garden
  11. Let’s Go to Bed
  12. The Walk
  13. The Lovecats
  14. The Caterpillar
  15. In Between Days
  16. Close to Me
  17. A Night Like This
  18. Boys Don’t Cry (New Voice – New Mix)

Disc 1, Track 1 was Small Wonder A-side SMALL 11, 1978
Disc 1, Track 2 from Three Imaginary Boys (Fiction, 1979)
Disc 1, Track 3 was Fiction Records A-side FICS 002, 1979
Disc 1, Track 4 was Fiction Records A-side FICS 005, 1979
Disc 1, Tracks 5-6 from Seventeen Seconds (Fiction, 1980)
Disc 1, Tracks 7-8 from Faith (Fiction, 1981)
Disc 1, Track 9 was Fiction Records A-side FICS 14, 1981
Disc 1, Track 10 from Pornography (Fiction, 1982)
Disc 1, Tracks 11-13 from Japanese Whispers (Fiction, 1983)
Disc 1, Track 14 from The Top (Fiction, 1984)
Disc 1, Tracks 15-17 from The Head on the Door (Fiction, 1985)
Disc 1, Track 18 was Fiction Records 12″ A-side FICS 24, 1986

Disc 2: B-sides

  1. I’m Cold (B-side to “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” – Fiction FICS 005, 1979)
  2. Another Journey by Train (B-side to “A Forest” – Fiction FICS 10, 1980)
  3. Descent (B-side to “Primary” – Fiction FICS 12, 1981)
  4. Splintered in Her Head (B-side to “Charlotte Sometimes” – Fiction FICS 14, 1981)
  5. Mr Pink Eyes (B-side to “The Lovecats” – Fiction FICS 19, 1983)
  6. Happy the Man (B-side to “The Caterpillar” – Fiction FICS 20, 1984)
  7. Throw Your Foot (12″ B-side to “The Caterpillar” – Fiction FICS X 20, 1984)
  8. The Exploding Boy (B-side to “In Between Days” – Fiction FICS 22, 1985)
  9. A Few Hours After This (12″ B-side to “In Between Days” – Fiction FICS X 22, 1985)
  10. A Man Inside My Mouth (B-side to “Close to Me” – Fiction FICS 23, 1985)
  11. Stop Dead (12″ B-side to “Close to Me” – Fiction FICS X 23, 1985)
  12. New Day (from Half an Octopuss EP – Fiction FICS T 23, 1985)
  13. Pillbox Tales (B-side to “Boys Don’t Cry” reissue – Fiction FICS 24, 1986)
  14. Do the Hansa (12″ B-side to “Boys Don’t Cry” reissue – Fiction FICS X 24, 1986)

Written by Mike Duquette

November 30, 2011 at 12:36

11 Responses

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  1. i had the idea that ‘killing an arab’ wasn’t going to be released again on CD (it’s not on the deluxe editions, only on old (early) CD reissues, can anyone confirm this?)
    (probably just like Brian Eno’s Qu’ran that he agreed not to release again)

    Carlos Soares

    November 30, 2011 at 12:59

  2. Apparently it’s only available on the compilations ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ and ‘Standing on the Beach’. In other words, not remastered.

    The Thorn

    November 30, 2011 at 13:27

  3. I’m confused. At least in the US, Standing On The Beach was the audio collection, and Staring at the Sea was the VHS compilation. Thoughts? http://www.amazon.com/Staring-at-Sea-VHS-Cure/dp/6302372615

    m000se

    November 30, 2011 at 16:24

  4. Hmmm, it’s a nice idea but like you mention in the main text , there’s a great B Sides compilation already out there. They should still do it though , why not ?
    What’s really needed is a 2/3 cd set featuring ALL the Cure’s A-Sides in chronological order. They are one of the greatest singles bands ever and it’s a shame they are not all available in the one package. No ?

    Stevie

    November 30, 2011 at 16:33

  5. Could Swear that Killing an Arab is indeed in the Three Imaginary Boys Deluxe Re-issue. Have to check at home..

    Edwin

    November 30, 2011 at 16:42

  6. You nailed it. I’ve been waiting for this re-issue, and a DVD of the VHS. I still have my tape so I guess for now I’ll have to buy a converter and make my own.

    Laura

    November 30, 2011 at 17:13

  7. Yeah, when they left it off the TIB Deluxe Edition, I figured they were quietly burying it after years of controversy, but then a couple years ago, Robert claimed there’s a 2-CD hits collection in the works from Elektra that would be coming out sometime after the Disintegration reissue.

    As soon as I heard that, for no particular reason, I got suspicious and now I wonder if they only kept it from the TIB Deluxe so that we’d have a reason to buy Elektra’s *fourth* Cure compliation. :-/

    JG

    November 30, 2011 at 17:17

  8. I doubt it was left out for monetary purposes. They’ve changed the lyrics live to “Killing Another” and that’s more likely to get a proper studio version at some point. Any knowledge of RS in the past should lead you to know he doesn’t play games with his fan’s wallets and doesn’t let any label get away with it either.

    Back to the disc at hand, I don’t think it needs a reissue at all. There’s a greatest hits album out there already for casual fans that covers more territory in their catalog. The b-sides and rarities are a very low price for a box set with 4 discs. If anything, the five or six videos that are only available on VHS from this release deserve some attention.

    Burnt Fur

    November 30, 2011 at 18:38

    • I agree that RS does seem to be a conscientious guy when it comes to the fanbase, but I never presume to know what the situation may be with artist vs. label when it comes to who’s in control of projects/releases. I mean, just look at Elvis Costello’s latest debacle! 🙂

      JG

      December 1, 2011 at 01:25

  9. Yes, Robert Smith did, for many years, change the lyrics to “Killing an Arab” to “Killing Another.” However, at the ‘Reflections’ concerts last week in LA and NYC, he reverted to “Killing An Arab.”

    And mOOse, ‘Standing on a Beach’ was the name of the cassette and vinyl release, while ‘Staring at the Sea’ refers to the CD and VHS releases.

    Slicing Up Eyeballs

    December 1, 2011 at 01:14

  10. To be honest, such a rerelease seems rather pointless to me as nearly all the stuff is available even in remastered form. I’d rather have the old extended versions as bonus as opposed to the easily available b-sides but that would probably better be released as an updated ‘Mixed Up’, which has been rumoured for a while.
    If they do a rerelease of ‘Staring At The Sea’ then as a bonus the video collection on dvd or blu-ray would be way more appreciated by myself.

    By the way, ‘Do The Hansa’ was not performed for the first time in New York (+ it was their second to last ‘Reflection’ show), in 1979 the song was played numerous times.

    Dennis

    December 2, 2011 at 16:48


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