|Studio album by The Cure|
|Released||22 April 1980|
|Recorded||1979–80 at Morgan Studio One, London, England|
|The Cure chronology|
|Singles from Seventeen Seconds|
Seventeen Seconds is the second studio album by English rock band the Cure, recorded at Morgan Studio and released on 22 April 1980 by Fiction Records. Seventeen Seconds established the group's gloomy sound that would continue until 1982's Pornography.
It is the only Cure album to feature keyboardist Matthieu Hartley.
Inspiration was very high for the album, as Robert Smith wrote the lyrics and music for most of the record on just two occasions. Most of the music was composed by Smith in his parents' home, on a Hammond organ with a built-in tape recorder. Interviewed in 2004, producer Mike Hedges does not recall any demo tracks, with the band generally playing the track in the studio before laying down a backing track to which overdubs were added.
Two members of The Magazine Spies, bass guitarist Simon Gallup and keyboardist Matthieu Hartley, were added to the band's lineup. Gallup replaced Michael Dempsey, which relieved Smith as he felt Dempsey's basslines were too ornate and that they weren't getting on socially. Hartley's synth work added a new dimension to the band's newly ethereal sound, although Smith and he clashed over complexity (Hartley enjoyed complex chords; Smith wanted single notes). Hartley left the group after Seventeen Seconds.
Due to budgetary restraints, the record was recorded and mixed in seven days on a budget of between £2,000 and £3,000, which resulted in the band working 16 or 17 hours a day to complete the album. Smith stated that as a result, the track "The Final Sound" was actually planned to be much longer, but was cut down to 53 seconds because the tape ran out while recording, and they couldn't record it again.
Seventeen Seconds has been considered an early example of gothic rock. Jeff Apter, author of the Cure biography Never Enough: The Story of The Cure, wrote that, along with Faith, the band's next album, Seventeen Seconds' "gloomscapes" would be "a sonic touchstone for the goth movement." The track "The Final Sound", in particular, he wrote, "[is] so positively gothic you could almost be fooled into believing that it was lifted from the soundtrack of some Hammer horror gorefest".
The record was repackaged in the US in 1981 (on the A&M label) with Faith as Happily Ever After, available as a double album or a single CD. Neither album was available individually in the US until 1986.
Seventeen Seconds was reissued in the UK on 25 April 2005 as part of Universal's Deluxe Edition series. The new edition featured a remastered version of the album on the first disc, while the second contained demo and live tracks. On the rarities disc, four of these rarities were recorded by the one-off Cult Hero, a group that featured Smith's postman Frank Bell as lead singer and which performed '70s-style rock along the lines of Easy Cure. A one-disc reissue was also released on 5 September 2005 in the UK, containing only the original album and released in a standard jewel case rather than a digipak. In some countries, the Deluxe Edition has become a collector's item due to the phasing out of production, being replaced by the more economical one-CD version.
In 2005, the Cure re-recorded the track "Seventeen Seconds" (along with other title tracks "Three Imaginary Boys", "Faith" and "Pornography") for the album 4play.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
The album's songs are described by critics as bearing vague, often unsettling lyrics and "dark", spare minimalistic melodies. Some reviewers, like Nick Kent of NME, felt that Seventeen Seconds represented a far more mature Cure, who had come very far musically in less than one year. The album was lauded by some critics, and panned as a "collection of soundtracks" by others. Chris Westwood of Record Mirror described the album as "sad Cure, sitting in cold rooms, watching clocks".
Despite the mixed reception, the album was relatively successful when released, reaching No. 20 in the UK. There was controversy concerning the band's "anti-image", established by the cover of Three Imaginary Boys, which this album contributed to by blurring the photos of the band's members and the cover art. This is the first Cure album that Smith was able to choose the art for.
During concerts, songs from Seventeen Seconds are typically grouped together and mostly played during the encore, as it has grown to become a fan favourite, though this is not always the case. During 2011, the Cure performed the album in its entirety over nine separate dates, firstly two nights at the Vivid Live Festival at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, then one night at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and then six dates in America (three in Los Angeles and three in New York), with the Australian performances, billed as The Cure: 'Reflections', being recorded for a potential DVD release.
The Reflections tour featured the first performances of several songs from the album for many years. "In Your House" hadn't been played since a charity gig at the Barfly club in London during March 2004; "Secrets" since a gig in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in March 1987; and "Three", "The Final Sound" and "A Reflection" since the original Seventeen Seconds tour in 1980. Between 1981 and 2008, however the band sometimes closed concerts with "Forever", a lengthy, mostly improvised piece based on the music of "Three". "Seventeen Seconds" itself had not had a full performance since 1981, although it was used as the opening song to a festival gig in France in 2002 (though on this occasion, Smith played the song as a solo effort).
The remaining songs from Seventeen Seconds have been played more often than the others. "Play for Today" and "At Night" have invariably featured in either the main set of a gig or during the encore, while "M" is mostly played as part of the encore, though on rare occasions has made it into the main set of gigs. The most played song from the album however, is the lead single "A Forest", which has become the most played Cure song with over 1,000 appearances and counting, featuring invariably as either the last or second to last song of the main set, during the encore, or in the middle of the main set.
|2.||"Play for Today"||3:40|
|4.||"In Your House"||4:07|
|6.||"The Final Sound"||0:52|
|2005 CD Deluxe Edition bonus disc|
|1.||"I'm a Cult Hero" (vinyl single by Cult Hero 12/79)||2:59|
|2.||"I Dig You" (vinyl single by Cult Hero 12/79)||3:40|
|3.||"Another Journey by Train (AKA 44F)" (group home instrumental demo 1/80)||3:12|
|4.||"Secrets" (group home instrumental demo 1/80)||3:40|
|5.||"Seventeen Seconds" (live in Amsterdam, January 1980)||3:59|
|6.||"In Your House" (live in Amsterdam, January 1980)||3:32|
|7.||"Three" (alternate studio mix 2/80)||2:45|
|8.||"I Dig You" (Cult Hero live at the Marquee Club, London, March 1980)||3:36|
|9.||"I'm a Cult Hero" (Cult Hero live at the Marquee Club, London, March 1980)||3:21|
|10.||"M" (live in Arnhem, May 1980)||2:56|
|11.||"The Final Sound" (live in France, June 1980)||0:26|
|12.||"A Reflection" (live in France, June 1980)||1:39|
|13.||"Play for Today" (live in France, June 1980)||3:46|
|14.||"At Night" (live in France, June 1980)||5:37|
|15.||"A Forest" (live in France, June 1980)||6:28|
- Note: The US cassette version has "A Forest" on Side A and "Play for Today" on Side B. Also, the artwork is different, with some tree branches at left and a reddish blob at the bottom.
- The Cure
- Robert Smith – guitars, vocals, production
- Matthieu Hartley – keyboards, production
- Lol Tolhurst – drums, production
- Simon Gallup – bass guitar, production
- Mike Hedges – production, engineering
- Chris Parry – production
- David Kemp – engineering
- Martyn Webster – engineering assistance
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- Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.