On April 14th, 1981, The Cure released Faith—the band’s third studio album which continued their foray into darker territory begun with Seventeen Seconds, which was released the previous year.
Robert Smith said he wanted a funereal theme for the record, and it definitely shows throughout, with the cover art being an image of Bolton Priory surrounded by fog; a perfect visual representation of the album’s mood.
(Interesting fact, Bolton Priory was the setting of the music video for Love and Rockets’ debut single “If There’s a Heaven Above”.)
The album’s only official single “Primary”, originally performed live on the Seventeen Seconds tour, was listed on fan-recorded bootlegs as having the title “Cold Colours”, which was the original working title of the song’s demo. This is also known as the “Primary (Yellow Version)”. The song’s original lyrics, as featured on John Peel’s 1981 Radio session, focus more so on the individual primary colours than in the final version, which still retains the refrain “Oh oh remember, Please don’t change”.
Red in the Christmas tree shines
And you lick your sticky lips
Yellow such a happy colour
But I feel so old
Girl sits in a room drawing pictures
Oh yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow yellow
That’s so cold
Blue is waiting for your brother
You won’t get seen again
Sky high waves you
And other colours
Primary sound and primary fine
Listen to “Cold Colours” below:
The “Cold Colours” version is also similar to the Faith deluxe edition bonus Morgan studio out-take recorded in September of 1980—having relatively the same early lyrics, but with the faster tempo featured in the final version of the song.
We have heard that early versions of “Primary” were dedicated to Ian Curtis, which would make Primary the second song on the album to have been performed in the late Joy Division singer’s honor. The other being “The Holy Hour”, which was dedicated to Ian Curtis during a concert in Amsterdam on October 17th, 1980. This makes you wonder if the funeral theme for the record was the result of the Joy Division singer’s suicide.
Robert Smith was a fan of Curtis, and Joy Division, and had this to say about it in a recent interview:
“In 1980 we did a thing in London at the Marquee Club…we picked the four bands we wanted to play with us, and Joy Division were one of those bands…I heard Unknown Pleasures on the radio on John Peel, and they were just fantastic.
They were the best thing I’d seen–not ever, because I’d seen Bowie and the Stones–but they were of that generation of bands which is my generation of bands they were so powerful…that was our best show that year, I think, we went on after them and we had to really we had to try hard to match what they did…it’s a shame about Ian Curtis…it’s like Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain…people that good come around far too infrequently.”
At least two songs on the album, “All Cats Are Grey” and “The Drowning Man”, were inspired by the gothic and steampunk fantasy novels in the Gormenghast trilogy, written by Mervyn Peake. There is a fantastic BBC adaptation of Gormenghast starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, which includes Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Richard Griffiths, and more!
It definitely feels like in style and tone a precursor to the Harry Potter Films that were to follow just a year later. “All Cats Are Grey”, arguably the album’s best track, is also one of two songs included on the soundtrack of the Sophia Coppola film Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst.
Besides’ “Primary”, there is also a music video for the track “Other Voices”, a song that contains one of The Cure’s most memorable basslines.
The album on some copies—like one of the cassette editions, contains the instrumental piece “Carnage Visors” (an antonym for rose-coloured spectacles).
The piece is the soundtrack to a short film by Ric Gallup, bassist Simon Gallup’s brother, that was screened at the beginning of shows in place of a support band on 1981’s Picture Tour. The film featured an animation of several dolls in different positions and stances.
The Cure’s Faith was performed in its entirety, along with Seventeen Seconds and Three Imaginary Boys as a part of a special set of shows entitled Reflections back in 2011, reuniting the band’s founding member Lol Tolhurst to perform at the concerts in London, Los Angeles, and Sydney Australia.
Tolhurst had not played with band he named in 22 years, and the concerts feature as a touching part of his memoir Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys.
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