On December 6th 1983, The Cure released the singles collection Japanese Whispers, which for all intents and purposes can be considered to be a proper Cure album, despite it being for the most part unrepresentative of the sound Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst had set out to create—far removed from the previous effort, 1982’s masterpiece Pornography.
In fact, the first single “Let’s Go to Bed” was actually molded from “Temptation”, a demo from the Pornography sessions that was written as sarcastic reflection on pop music. Ultimately, the track was meant to be the antithesis of what The Cure represent. Robert Smith has often stated that he wished its B-side, the darker “Just One Kiss” was released as a single instead, as it was more representative of the band. The music video was the band’s first of a long time collaboration with director Tim Pope.
The next single The Walk was somewhat of a commercial breakthrough for The Cure. It made it into the UK top 20 and was popular in the US as well. The single was released in 3 formats, including an 12inch EP with “Lament”, “The Dream”, and “The Upstairs Room”, and a mini LP that also included “Let’s Go To Bed” and “Just One Kiss”. There are certain anecdotes flying around concerning “The Walk”, which may have contributed to a feud between New Order and The Cure that was allegedly instigated between their respective bass players Simon Gallup and Peter Hook—the former being opined to be the far superior bass player by Robert Smith, of course (although Simon Gallup was not in the band at the time of The Walk’s release).
Comparing The Walk to New Order’s classic “Blue Monday”, a certain similarity between the drum track is very striking, but neither The Cure nor New Order can take credit for it, as it first can be heard on Donna Summer’s track Our Love. Since Blue Monday came out a bit earlier, The Cure were often accused of copying New Order (by Peter Hook especially). According to Robert Smith, however, they never deliberately did, as The Walk had been recorded first and was intended to sound more like the band Japan. Perhaps The Cure’s hit “Friday I’m In Love” off their ninth studio album Wish starts with the line “I don’t care if Monday’s blue” for that reason, but it may just be a coincidence that still fits perfectly fits into that puzzle.
When asked about The similarities between “The Walk” and “Blue Monday”, Robert Smith had this to say:
“I think Blue Monday came out a bit earlier than The Walk but I wanted it to sound like the band Japan, not New Order. Simon Gallup and Peter Hook have got similarly aggressive personae on stage, although I think Simon is a far superior bass player. And the six-string bass was an instrument we both picked up at the same time in the early ’80s. But I’ve never deliberately copied New Order.”
The final single on Japanese Whispers, The Lovecats, was recorded in Paris, and according to Robert Smith, was an homage to the Disney film The Aristocats. According to some fan sources, it may have been lyrically inspired by Patrick White’s novel The Vivisector as well. Robert Smith explains below that a song like this was a one-off for The Cure, and there would not be any other songs like this, such as “Love Dogs,” for example.
In the video for The Lovecats, on the doublebass is Phil Thornalley, who produced The Cure’s Pornography. Thornalley would perform live with The Cure off and on until Simon Gallup rejoined the band for 1985’s The Head on The Door. Andy Anderson would round up the live lineup on drums, and also contributed to The Glove’s Blue Sunshine LP.
Here is some footage of the The Cure in Paris recording Lovecats
Additionally, below is an interesting interview with Robert Smith from October 17th, 1983. Recorded later on the day Play at Home was done at the Riverside, Mr. Smith discusses The Walk EP, the Banshee’s Nocturne live LP, and recording demos for The Top. A nice touch is Lol Tolhurst’s shout-out for producing Baroque Bordello and And Also the Trees.
Bonus 1: Watch The Cure’s first appearance on MTV
Bonus 2: At the time, The Cure didn’t enjoy playing songs like “The Lovecats” in concert, so instead, here’s a clip of “One Hundred Years” featuring the 1983 lineup…