The Cure On Record

Record Collector #187
March 1995
Pat Gilbert


Stashed away in a tiny room at a secret West Country location is just about
every record the Cure have ever made. There are acetates of unreleased
singles, rare Brazilian promos, obscure German EPs, immaculately-preserved
albums, pricey Japanese CDs and unassuming U.K. test pressings. What you
won't find, however, is a picture disc for 1990's "Lovesong". "It doesn't
exist," explains Daren Butler, arguably the world's No.1 Cure collector and
now the author of `The Cure On Record', a sumptuous full-colour tome
illustrating all the group's most interesting records, CDs, posters and
ephemera. "Contrary to popular belief, the test pressing of `Carnage
Visors' doesn't exist, either - I know, because I asked Robert Smith. One
of the reasons for doing this book was to dispel all the myths about what
was and wasn't made." Another reason, according to Daren, was to give fans
the opportunity to see records that they are unlikely to ever own
themselves. "By their very nature, many of the rarest items exist in very
small numbers. Take the test pressing for the `Lament' flexidisc, given
away with `Flexipop' magazine. I tracked down the guy who worked at the
pressing plant, and he said only five or six at most would've been
manufactured. That's one I'm really glad I got in there."

Daren bought his first Cure record in 1984, when he was 16, and quickly
caught the collecting bug, spending all his spare cash - and a bit more
besides - on any related items he could find. "I found I was getting very
passionate about wanting certain promos. Then, when I'd got them, I just
had to get the next one." The idea for a book arose around the time Daren
helped us out with our own three-part look at Cure collectables in 1993.
However, he knew that because of the tight rein Robert Smith held over all
Cure-related projects, he would have to get the blessing of the band's
record company, Fiction. Around this time, Daren bumped into the label's
chief executive, Ita Martin, at the preview for the film, `The Cure Show'.
She seemed amenable to the idea, and within a few weeks, he received
official permission to go ahead with the book, with Omnibus Press providing
the funding. "If Robert hadn't wanted the book out, it wouldn't have
happened," Daren muses. "But it was great. I had access to Fiction's photo
archive, which means the book contains loads of rare photos of the group.
That's where the pictures of `Cult Hero' Frank Bell and the Obtainers came
from - they're the only ones that exist." Over the next 12 months, Daren
threw himself into his task, blowing his advance from Omnibus on any Cure
releases he came across that weren't already in his collection. "I already
had about 80% of the items that appear in the book," he chirps. "But I knew
there were others out there that I needed to find. For example, I'd never
met anyone who'd even seen the `Lament' test pressing, but I knew one or
more must exist. Then one day at the Wembley Record Fair one turned up - it
was just there, in a box. Luckily, I got it for 30 pound, though it's worth
nearer 200 pound. It used to belong to Janice Long, apparently."

However, besides illustrations of the records, Daren wanted the book to
contain brief descriptions of every item, which meant tracking down
everyone from ex-production staff at Polydor to Cure video-maker, Tim Pope,
in the search for information. "I rang up Tim Pope to find out more about
his `I Want To Be A Tree' single," says Daren. "But he didn't even have a
copy. So I agreed to get him a 7" if he would send me a copy of the video.
That ended up being the deal." Daren also found an ally in Robert Smith
himself, who, despite not being too enthralled with the idea of collecting,
tries to keep a copy of every Cure record that comes out. During the Cure's
recent legal battle with former member Lol Tolhurst at London's High Court,
Daren spent several evenings with Smith in the pub opposite, quizzing him
about the meaning of messages in runout grooves and the number of copies of
the Obtainers single that were actually made (only 100, apparently).
"Robert was a great bloke and very helpful. He's very up on all the
different variations that have surfaced overseas. He's even got a copy of
`Why Can't I Be You?' from the Philippines. "Probably the rarest item in
the book is the promo of `10.15'/ `Foxy Lady' from 1979," he continues. "I
don't think Robert even knew it existed - it was probably used as a promo
for the album, `Three Imaginary Boys', though no one's quite sure." So has
it all been good fun. I ask as a parting shot? "Er, yeah," he laughs. "But
it's also been really hard work putting it all together. I'm toying with
the idea of doing a Kate Bush one next..."


Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 20:00:06 CST

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