The Head on the Door

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The Head on the Door
The Cure - The Head on the Door.jpg
Studio album by
Released30 August 1985[1]
StudioAngel Recording, London
The Cure chronology
The Top
The Head on the Door
Standing on a Beach
The Cure studio album chronology
The Top
The Head on the Door
Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Singles from The Head on the Door
  1. "In Between Days"
    Released: 19 July 1985
  2. "Close to Me"
    Released: 13 September 1985

The Head on the Door is the sixth studio album by English rock band The Cure. It was released on 30 August 1985 by Fiction Records. Preceded by the single "In Between Days" which had reached No. 15 on the UK Singles Chart,[6] The Head on the Door was described by Melody Maker as "a collection of pop songs".[7] With its variety of styles, it allowed the group to reach a wider audience in both Europe and North America. In the United Kingdom it became their most successful album to date, entering the albums chart at No. 7 on 7 September.[8]

The album is the first to feature drummer Boris Williams. Bassist Simon Gallup, who had previously worked on three major Cure albums of the early 1980s, was called back before the recording. In 1985 the band became a quintet with instrumentalist Porl Thompson as their fifth official member. The Head on the Door is the first Cure album where all the songs were composed solely by singer and guitarist Robert Smith.

History and music[edit]

This album marks the return of Simon Gallup in the group; he had performed and composed with Robert Smith and Lol Tolhurst on the dark trilogy Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography. Guitarist Porl Thompson, who had played guitar during the very early days of the band, and also played keyboards and saxophone during The Top tour, became an official member. Drummer Boris Williams, who had previously worked with Thompson Twins, finally joined the ensemble after playing with the band during the US leg of the 1984 tour.

During promotion for the record, Smith stated that The Head on the Door was inspired by the albums Kaleidoscope by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Dare by the Human League. He wanted the album to be eclectic with different styles and moods: "It reminds me of the Kaleidoscope album, the idea of having lots of different sounding things, different colours".[9] "Kyoto Song" contains an oriental hook, while "The Blood" is played in a flamenco style.[10] The piano tune of "Six Different Ways" had been previously used by Smith during his tenure with Siouxsie and the Banshees, for the single "Swimming Horses".[11] The last song of the album, "Sinking", was reminiscent of the band's Faith era, while "Close to Me" (released as the album's second and final single) was described as a "disco thing" by critics.[7] The opening track and first single, "In Between Days", was compared to New Order's material.[12] "A Night Like This" contains a saxophone solo by Ron Howe from Fools Dance. The title of the album comes from a line in the chorus of "Close to Me".

When he was interviewed that year, Smith said that his five favourite albums were at that time Mirror Moves by the Psychedelic Furs, This Year's Model by Elvis Costello, Low by David Bowie, Kaleidoscope by Siouxsie and the Banshees and Rattus Norvegicus by the Stranglers.[13]

Release, reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideB[16]
Record Mirror4/5[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[20]

Released on 30 August 1985, The Head on the Door was the first big international success for the band, notably entering the top 75 in the US and reaching the top 20 in numerous other countries.[22] The album is certified gold in the US, UK and France.

Upon its release, The Head on the Door was well received by the British press. In a very favourable review, Melody Maker's Steve Sutherland hailed the "liberty" that Smith took to conceive a multifaceted record.[7] Chris Roberts of Sounds said that it "makes you wish more pop stars were hip enough to stay in bed all day".[12] Record Mirror reviewer Andy Strickland wrote that The Head on the Door "may lack the swirls of chorused guitar that many adore, but there's a wider more mature musical approach".[11] Mat Snow of NME found that the album "is really quite pop", and that "tunes abound".[23] In December 1985 it was named the best album of the year by Melody Maker.[24]

In 2000 it was voted number 833 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[25]

In a retrospective review, AllMusic critic Tim Sendra noted that The Head on the Door marked a new musical direction for the Cure in that Smith had managed to make the band's trademark "gloom and doom" style both "danceable and popular"; Sendra also found that the album's "inventive" arrangements provide "a musical depth previous efforts lacked".[14] Writing for Q, Tom Doyle said that songs such as "In Between Days" and "Close to Me" showed Smith "bridging the brooding of yore with their recent pop highs".[19] Nitsuh Abebe of Pitchfork deemed it the band's "most focused pop album" and "a tight, terrific package".[18] PopMatters included The Head on the Door on its list of 12 essential alternative rock albums from the 1980s, calling the record "an outstanding example of Smith's ability to use pop music as a means to express angst while applying just a hint of the polish".[26]

A cover version of "A Night Like This" was released on the 1996 reissue of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" single.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Robert Smith.

Side one
1."In Between Days"2:57
2."Kyoto Song"4:16
3."The Blood"3:43
4."Six Different Ways"3:18
Side two
1."The Baby Screams"3:44
2."Close to Me"3:23
3."A Night Like This"4:16
2006 Deluxe Edition bonus disc
1."In Between Days (RS Instrumental Home Demo 12/84)"1:25
2."Inwood (RS Instrumental Home Demo 12/84)"2:18
3."Push (RS Instrumental Home Demo 12/84)"2:31
4."Innsbruck (RS Instrumental Home Demo 12/84)"2:37
5."Stop Dead (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"3:21
6."Mansolidgone (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"4:06
7."Screw (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"3:09
8."Lime Time (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"2:56
9."Kyoto Song (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"4:28
10."A Few Hours After This ... (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"4:36
11."Six Different Ways (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"3:00
12."A Man Inside My Mouth (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"3:00
13."A Night Like This (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"4:08
14."The Exploding Boy (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"3:06
15."Close to Me (Fitz/F2 Studios Demo 2/85)"4:03
16."The Baby Screams (Live bootleg Bercy Paris 12/85 - bootleg audience recording)"3:46
17."The Blood (Live bootleg Bercy Paris 12/85 - bootleg audience recording)"3:34
18."Sinking (Live bootleg Bercy Paris 12/85 - bootleg audience recording)"5:06



Chart (1985–86) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[27] 6
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[28] 3
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[29] 15
Italian Albums (FIMI)[30] 24
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[31] 11
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[32] 24
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[22] 14
UK Albums (OCC)[8] 7
US Billboard 200[33] 59


Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[34] Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[35] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[36] Gold 500,000^

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Head on Cure" (PDF). Record Mirror. 24 August 1985. p. 6. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  2. ^ "The Cure song inspired by a Dylan Thomas poem". 4 April 2022.
  3. ^ "The Cure - The Top / The Head on the Door / Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me - Review - Stylus Magazine".
  4. ^ "TOP OF THE POPS". Chicago Tribune.
  5. ^ "The Cure - Wish Album Review". 29 May 2022.
  6. ^ "The Cure". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Sutherland, Steve (31 August 1985). "Head case". Melody Maker. p. 27.
  8. ^ a b "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  9. ^ Sutherland, Steve (17 August 1985). "A Suitable Case for Treatment". Melody Maker. pp. 24–25, 37.
  10. ^ Grant, Steven; Robbins, Ira; Reno, Brad. "Cure". Trouser Press. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b c Strickland, Andy (31 August 1985). "The Cure: The Head on the Door". Record Mirror. p. 20.
  12. ^ a b c Roberts, Chris (31 August 1985). "Sox Appeal". Sounds.
  13. ^ "The Cure on 4C+" Robert Smith interview. Canal plus. 11 December 1985. Retrieved 7 June 2015 on youtube.
  14. ^ a b Sendra, Tim. "The Head on the Door – The Cure". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  15. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2005). "The Cure: The Head on the Door". Blender. No. 41. Archived from the original on 23 November 2005. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "The Cure: The Head on the Door". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. p. 110. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  17. ^ McNair, James (September 2006). "The Cure: The Head on the Door". Mojo. No. 154.
  18. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (25 August 2006). "The Cure / Robert Smith: The Top / The Head on the Door / Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me / Blue Sunshine". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  19. ^ a b Doyle, Tom (September 2006). "Born Again". Q. No. 242. p. 118.
  20. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "The Cure". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 205–206. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  21. ^ Dolan, Jon (September 2006). "Reissues". Spin. Vol. 22, no. 9. p. 107. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  22. ^ a b " – The Cure – The Head on the Door". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  23. ^ Snow, Mat (31 August 1985). "Our Man 'Still Awake' Shock". NME. p. 27.
  24. ^ "Albums of the Year". Melody Maker. 21–28 December 1985. p. 44.
  25. ^ Colin Larkin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 259. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  26. ^ "Hope Despite the Times: 12 Essential Alternative Rock Albums from the 1980s". PopMatters. 27 August 2014. p. 1. Archived from the original on 30 November 2018. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  27. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. ^ " – The Cure – The Head on the Door" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  29. ^ " – The Cure – The Head on the Door" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  30. ^ " – The Cure – The Head on the Door". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  31. ^ " – The Cure – The Head on the Door". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  32. ^ " – The Cure – The Head on the Door". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  33. ^ "The Cure Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  34. ^ "French album certifications – The Cure – Head on the Door" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 16 June 2016. Select THE CURE and click OK. 
  35. ^ "British album certifications – Cure – The Head on the Door". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  36. ^ "American album certifications – The Cure – The Head on the Door". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 16 June 2016.

External links[edit]