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 The Cure
Released 26 August 1985
Recorded 1985 at Angel Studios in London, England
Genre Alternative rock, new wave, gothic rock, post-punk
Length 37:46
Label Fiction (UK)
Elektra (U.S. original release)
Rhino (2006 reissue)
Producer Robert Smith and David M. Allen
The Cure 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: 15 July 1985
  2. "Close to Me"
    Released: 9 September 1985

The Head on the Door is the sixth studio album by British band The Cure, released in 1985 on Polydor. It was preceded by the single "In Between Days" which had reached No. 15 in the UK singles chart.[1] The Head on the Door was depicted by the Melody Maker as "a collection of pop songs".[2] With its variety of styles, it allowed the group to reach a wider audience in both Europe and North America. In the UK, it quickly became their most successful album to date, climbing at N°7 in the albums chart. [1]

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 80's, was called back before the recording. In 1985, the band became a quintet with instrumentalist Porl Thompson as fifth official member. The Head on the Door is the first Cure album where all the songs are composed by singer and guitarist Robert Smith only.

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 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 formation after playing with the band during the US leg of the 1984's tour.

During the promotion, Smith stated that the record was inpired 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."[3] "Kyoto Song" contains an oriental hook while "The Blood" is played in a flamenco style.[4] The piano tune of "Six Different Ways" was previously used by Smith during his tenure with Siouxsie and the Banshees, for the single "Swimming Horses".[5] The last song of the album, "Sinking", was reminiscent of Faith-era while "Close to Me" was described as a "disco thing" by critics.[2] The opening track and first single, "In Between Days", was compared to New Order's material.[6] On "A Night Like This", there is a saxophone solo by Ron Howe from Fools Dance.

Release, reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[7]
Blender 4/5 stars[8]
Christgau's Record Guide B[9]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[10]
Pitchfork Media 8.7/10[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[12]
Spin 4/5 stars[13]
Stylus Magazine A[14]

The Head on the Door was the real first big international success for the band, entering notably the Top 75 in the US and reaching the Top 20 in numerous other countries.[15] This album is certified Gold in US, UK and France.

Upon its release, the album was well received by the British press. Sounds rated it 4 out of 5, saying "It makes you wish more pop stars were hip enough to stay in bed all day".[6] In a very favourable review, Melody Maker hailed the "liberty" that Smith took to conceive a multifaceted record.[2] Record Mirror rated the album 4 out of 5: 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".[5] In December 1985, The Head on the Door was named the best "Album of the Year" by the Melody Maker.[16]

The album was namechecked by Billy Corgan. "A Night Like This" was covered by Corgan's group, The Smashing Pumpkins with James Iha on vocals, and released on their 1995 "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" single.

2006 reissue[edit]

In 2006, the album was re-released by Universal on their Fiction Records/Polydor Records labels, digitally remastered with various demos and live tracks from the era. Included are demos of the four b-sides from the era ("The Exploding Boy," "A Few Hours After This," "A Man Inside My Mouth," and "Stop Dead") and four songs that were never released. The remaining tracks are demos or live versions of all 10 songs from the first disc. It was released 8 August in the U.S. (where the album was instead released by Rhino Entertainment/Elektra Records) and 14 August in the UK.

One of the four new songs, "Mansolidgone," is similar both musically and lyrically to another demo, "A Hand Inside My Mouth," (not to be confused with "A Man Inside My Mouth") which appeared on The Top Deluxe Edition. The lyrics to both songs, and the uncovered demo "Lime Time," have lyrics which would be later used in the songs "In Between Days" and "Six Different Ways."

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Robert Smith.

Original 1985 release[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "In Between Days"   2:57
2. "Kyoto Song"   4:16
3. "The Blood"   3:43
4. "Six Different Ways"   3:18
5. "Push"   4:31
6. "The Baby Screams"   3:44
7. "Close to Me"   3:23
8. "A Night Like This"   4:16
9. "Screw"   2:38
10. "Sinking"   4:57

2006 "Deluxe Edition"[edit]

Disc one[edit]

Original album, as above

Disc two[edit]

No. Title Length
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) 3:46
17. "The Blood" (live bootleg Bercy Paris 12/85) 3:34
18. "Sinking" (live bootleg Bercy Paris 12/85) 5:06


  • Kyoto Song - produced by Robert Smith, David M. Allen and Howard Gray



Year Chart Position
1985 The Billboard 200 (U.S.) 59
UK Albums Chart 7
Germany Top 40 15
Netherlands Top 40 3
New Zealand Top 40 11
Switzerland Top 40 14
Sweden Top 40 24
1986 France Top 50 6


Year Single Chart Position
1985 "In Between Days" Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play (U.S.) 39
The Billboard Hot 100 (U.S.) 99
UK Top 40 15
"Close to Me" UK Top 40 24
1986 "In Between Days" France Top 50 23
"Close to Me" France Top 50 17
Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play (U.S.) 32


Organization Level Date
BPI – UK Gold 9 December 1985
RIAA – U.S. Gold 18 March 1991
SNEP – France 2x Gold 1986


  1. ^ a b Cure UK Official Charts- albums and singles, retrieved 15 January 2016 
  2. ^ a b c Steve Sutherland, "Head Case" [The Head on the Door - review]", Melody Maker (31 August 1985) 
  3. ^ Sutherland, Steve (17 August 1985). "A Suitable Case for Treatment". Melody Maker. 
  4. ^ Cure, Trouserpress, retrieved 17 January 2016 
  5. ^ a b Andy Strickland, "The Head on the Door - review", Record Mirror (31 August 1985) 
  6. ^ a b Chris Roberts, "Sox Appeal [The Head on the Door - review]", Sounds (31 August 1985) 
  7. ^ Sendra, Tim. "The Head on the Door – The Cure". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  8. ^ Wolk, Douglas (20 September 2005). "The Head on the Door". Blender. Archived from the original on 23 November 2005. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: The Cure". Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  10. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  11. ^ 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 Media. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  12. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 205–06. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  13. ^ Dolan, Jon (September 2006). "Reissues". Spin 22 (9): 107. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  14. ^ Inskeep, Thomas (20 November 2006). "The Cure – The Top / The Head on the Door / Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me – Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Head on the Door in the charts". . Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  16. ^ "Albums of the year", Melody Maker, 21 December 1985