January 7, 2014

The Glove - Blue Sunshine (1983/2006)

The process of recording and touring for their fourth and darkest album, Pornography (1982), took a huge toll on The Cure. The band's increasing drug abuse and in-fighting led bassist Simon Gallup to quit outright (although he would return 18 months later) and Robert Smith to jump ship temporarily in order to moonlight as a guitarist for Siouxsie and The Banshees (a job he had held briefly in 1979) after the brilliant John McGeoch was jettisoned due to severe alcohol abuse. Robert Smith: "The Cure disintegrated in its entirety. Concerts became nothing but an excuse to drink ourselves senseless. Inevitably it meant the end of all my ideals. During the Pornography tour I realized The Cure weren't any better than any other band on tour. I was actually doing everything I swore once I wouldn't. We even had rows back stage; it was horrible really! We were all stuck in a crazed trip, and I really wanted to get away from all that! Especially Simon threw himself into it, and eventually I became some sort of father telling him not to, you know? I just wanted to stop. I had to stop! Simon quit, and I got away. I didn't touch a guitar for 4 months. I had to become sane again. In interviews I was always talking about how The Cure were different from other bands; we weren't though. There was never enough time to really be different from other bands. We traveled all around the world and as soon as we got back there was another album that had to be recorded! During Pornography, I realized we had to break that cycle. I got to the point where I could only see myself as someone who was in The Cure; I stopped seeing me being myself actually!" In many ways, taking over lead guitar duties in The Banshees was an ideal remedy to Robert Smith's growing discontent with the direction of The Cure. Signing on for the second leg of the Kiss the Dreamhouse tour, Smith was able to retreat from the pressures of fronting his own band by embracing a supporting role for one of the few figures in post-punk who could outshine him at the time: Siouxsie Sioux. It was during a break between legs of this tour at the beginning of 1983 that Smith and Banshee bassist Steve Severin hatched the idea to write and record a single as a one-off collaboration, but five months later, this idea had escalated into a full-fledged side-project with the goal of producing an album.

Smith & Severin decided to name their project The Glove, after a giant flying glove called the "murder mitten," which belonged to a corrupt policeman called the "Blue Meany" in The Beatles' 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. However, just as the recording sessions began, things took a surreal turn when it was revealed that Smith's recording contract with The Cure prevented him from singing on any non-Cure releases, so in a pinch, Jeanette Landray, the girlfriend of Banshee drummer Budgie and a dancer on Top of the Pops who had no previous singing experience, was recruited to provide the lion's share of the vocals. Steve Severin: "Robert was prevented from singing on any of the Glove material by Chris Parry (Head of Fiction records) although we eventually struck a deal were he could sing two tracks under the proviso that they weren’t to be released as singles. Therefore we had to audition for a singer. Neither of us wanted another male involved and after some aborted sessions I was pestered by Budgie’s then girlfriend, Landray into giving her a go. As she says herself she was in a strange position because it was clearly our project. She did a good job under awkward conditions, really." Jeanette Landray on her experience in The Glove: "Basically, because it was so clearly Robert and Steve's project I had a strange role, involved but not with any real say in the way things turned out, almost like a session musician really. I don't know what I'd actually expected but if I was offered something similar again I'd have a much clearer idea of the problems involved. I'm not bitter about it, but I have had to fight to get this far and it did get me some very useful exposure but I just underestimated how little expression I'd have in the promotion of the album. I still feel like a faceless voice to some extent."   By most accounts, the sessions were a hedonistic affair, with everyone involved ingesting copious amounts of LSD and speed, and watching film after film with the purpose of capturing "after-images" in the music itself. One of these films was Blue Sunshine, a 1978 cult film about a new form of LSD that causes baldness and homicidal behavior, whose title Smith and Severin would re-purpose for the title of their album.

Not surprisingly, the sound of Blue Sunshine is a volatile cocktail of goth, neo-psychedelia, and eccentric pop, which Smith variously described at the time as "cultivated madness" and "a mental assault course." And while it is certainly hard to deny that Smith's distinctive vocals are missed throughout most of the album, Landray does do a respectable job, though it's hard to overlook her similarity in tone to Siouxsie Sioux, a comparison in which Landray comes up considerably short. On "Like an Animal," one of Landray's best performances, Steve Severin's bass takes the lead to great effect, as cheesy keyboard washes and frenetic percussion keep the song from moving too far into darker territory. Where Blue Sunshine gets really interesting is on songs such as "Orgy" with its Middle-Eastern aesthetic and quirky twists and turns. It's all so vaguely Cure, but ultimately unlike anything else in Smith's considerable discography or The Banshees' for that matter. Severin: "The idea that The Glove could get away with anything vanished very quickly because it became a real responsibility to get it to sound not indulgent. I think what I wanted was for it to have more of a specific personality than, say, The Banshees or The Cure. I mean, The Banshees have a set, almost concrete image that, no matter what we do, we're kind of stuck with on a very superficial daily paper 'ice-queen and doom and gloom' level."

Blue Sunshine (1983/2006)

Disc I: Blue Sunshine
 1. Like an Animal
 2. Looking Glass Girl
 3. Sex-Eye-Make-Up
 4. Mr. Alphabet Says
 5. A Blues in Drag
 6. Punish Me with Kisses
 7. This Green City
 8. Orgy
 9. Perfect Murder
10. Relax
-Bonus Tracks-
11. The Man from Nowhere (Original Instrumental Mix)
12. Mouth to Mouth (Landray Vocal Mix)
13. Punish Me with Kisses (Mike Hedges Mix)
14. The Tightrope (Original Instrumental Mix)
15. Like an Animal (12" Club What Club? Mix)

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Disc II: Rarities
 1. Like an Animal (Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
 3. Sex-Eye-Make-Up (Robert Smith Vocal Demo) 
 4. Mr. Alphabet Says (Alternate Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
 5. A Blues in Drag (Alternate Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
 8. Orgy (Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
 9. Perfect Murder (Alternate Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
10. Relax (Alternate Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
11. The Man from Nowhere (Alternate Instrumental Mix)
12. Mouth to Mouth (Robert Smith Demo Vocal)
13. Opened the Box (A Waltz) (Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
14. The Tightrope (Almost Time) (Robert Smith Vocal Demo)
15. And All Around Us the Mermaids Sang (AKA Torment) (Robert Smith Vocal Demo) 
16. Holiday 80 (Original Instrumental Mix)

*It was revealed after the release of the deluxe edition that Smith's vocals on the demo versions were recorded much more recently, rather than at the time the album was being recorded

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  1. Blue Sunshine Deluxe Edition



    flac disc 1


    flac disc 2


  2. Looking Glass Girl is just amazing. I can't decide which version is better however. Thank you for uploading The Glove!

  3. I've been wondering what is John Cale chewing? Hmmm? Blue Sunshine is one of the best records of the time. Thanks voix. Saludos.

  4. El Isabelino,

    he is chewing Nico's garter

  5. Great blog you've got here! Great to see you back Voix... was a big fan of Luna. Looking forward to your future posts! :)

  6. Thank you very much for the Glove story !

  7. Guys, can someone type the piano keys of Mr alphabet says in a comment?

  8. Thanks A LOT for this deluxe version!!