Friday, April 17, 2015

seventeen seconds

The Cure took what they required to bring their sound deep in the dark to play their part in this post punk pathos.  Unsatisfied with the sound of their debut 'Three Imaginary Boys', Robert Smith was looking to do things differently for their second album.  When bassist Michael Dempsey expressed disapproval with the new direction, he was replaced by Simon Gallup from the Magazine Spies who brought with him keyboardist Matthieu Hartley.  The sessions for 'Seventeen Seconds' took place at Morgan Sound Studios in West London and featured  Robert Smith on guitars, vocals, and production;   Matthieu Hartley on keyboards, synthesizer, piano, and production;   Lol Tolhurst on drums, programming, and production;  and Simon Gallup on bass guitar and production.  Fiction Records founder Chris Parry also received credit for production (he had run the show for their debut); but it was the engineer that had worked with Parry on  'Three Imaginary Boys' that really took on that role for 'Seventeen Seconds' with help from engineer David Kemp and assistant engineer Martyn Webster.  

Hedges remembers:   "Robert [Smith] said to me he thought he and I could actually produce the record more to his liking than if a third party did it, and he wanted the freedom that afforded...At the same time, I wanted to get a more unusual sound than that on the first album, something different to the standard recording. As an engineer I was very, very keen to experiment, and Robert encouraged me to do this, so as co-producers he was in charge of the musical direction while I took care of the sonic direction. The band members were very individual, so I wanted a really individual sound, and this led to quite a bit of experimenting and equipment changes..Everything is right up close, there's no ambience whatsoever, and we then used reverbs and delays to give us the shapes and the sizes. I think the fact that the drums had such little ambience and were so sterile and cold really set up the mood we loved...[The sessions involved] a lot of drinking by all apart from the engineer/co-producer. I learned very, very early on in my career that I can't drink alcohol or take any recreational drugs while I'm working.  I'm just not physically or mentally able to hold everything together...Robert knew his limit and he stuck to it, and it was within his limit to be able to work and actually do a really good job of it. The others, meanwhile, would finish their parts and get so off their faces that they'd sort of fade out of the way because they couldn't stand up. Once they were told 'You've finished your bits for today,' they'd really, really go for it, and if their drinking ever encroached on the recording itself we'd just stop that particular part and carry on the next day. You see, they were virtually living in the studio — they slept on the floor of the studio — because with such a limited time we'd be working 16 or 17 hours a day...Seventeen Seconds probably cost between £2,000 and £3,000 to produce...With all of the recordings in those days there was very little A&R input; almost none. You were pretty much left to it, and when A&R did turn up you'd sort of down tools and look around until they went away. In fact, Chris Parry did once say to me that he thought the Cure should be working with a more athletic producer, because every time he came to the studio I was messing about. What I would have liked to say to him was 'Well, actually we were messing about because you were in the studio. We just wanted you to go away!'  As it happens, Chris Parry was very, very relaxed. We said we wanted to do it on our own and he pretty much left us to it. He came in once or twice. Generally, in those days, when it came to recording the Cure...we just did it. We recorded it and we delivered it. We didn't actually know what the budget was, we were just told 'Right, you've got five days to do it,' or three weeks sometimes, and without the pressure of having to do a certain style of record we just did what felt right at the time ... When I try to remember it, all I can see is a party."

Smith would reveal:   "I had to ask [Chris Parry] not to come into the studio because he was trying to produce the record and I wanted to do it with Hedges.  I knew exactly what sound I needed for 'Seventeen Seconds' - I wanted it to be inspired by Nick Drake with the clear, finished sound of Bowie's 'Low'... We did it on our own and everything about it was exactly what I wanted.  I produced it, although they said I wasn't capable.  'Seventeen Seconds' is a very personal record, and it's also when I felt The Cure really started...I knew exactly what I wanted to do with 'Seventeen Seconds'.  I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound and I didn't want anyone to interfere with that.  Anyone who wanted to play more than one piano note could go and do it somewhere else...During 'Seventeen Seconds' we honestly felt that we were creating something no one else had done.  From this point on, I thought that every album was gong to be the last Cure album, so I always tried to make it something that would be kind of a milestone.  I feel 'Seventeen Seconds' is one of few albums that genuinely achieved that ... I’ve always thought of Seventeen Seconds as our ‘opening’ album. It was the first record I felt was really The Cure.”

'Seventeen Seconds' reached number eighty in France, thirty-nine in Australia, twenty in the UK, fifteen in the Netherlands, and number nine in New Zealand.  

"A Forest"

Come closer and see
See into the trees
Find the girl
If you can
Come closer and see
See into the dark
Just follow your eyes
Just follow your eyes

I hear her voice
Calling my name
The sound is deep
In the dark
I hear her voice
And start to run
Into the trees
Into the trees

Into the trees
Suddenly I stop
But I know it's too late
I'm lost in a forest
All alone
The girl was never there
It's always the same
I'm running towards nothing
Again and again and again and again

"Play For Today"

The Cure. Play for today. by violetstylish

It's not a case of doing what's right
It's just the way I feel that matters
Tell me I'm wrong
I don't really care

It's not a case of share and share alike

I take what I require
I don't understand
You say it's not fair

You expect me to act like a lover

Consider my moves and deserve the reward
To hold you in my arms and wait, wait
Wait for something to happen

It's not a case of telling the truth

Some lines just fit the situation
Call me a liar
You would anyway

It's not a case of aiming to please

You know your always crying
It's just your part

In the play for today

'Seventeen Seconds'
full album:

All lyrics written by Robert Smith, all music composed by The Cure (Smith, Matthieu Hartley, Simon Gallup and Lol Tolhurst).

Side A
1. "A Reflection" 2:12
2. "Play for Today" 3:40
3. "Secrets" 3:20
4. "In Your House" 4:07
5. "Three" 2:36
Side B
6. "The Final Sound" 0:52
7. "A Forest" 5:55
8. "M" 3:04
9. "At Night" 5:54
10. "Seventeen Seconds" 4:00

Live from the Berg en Bos Festival 
Apeldoorn, Netherlands 
July 1980

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