The Top (album)

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The Top
The Cure - The Top.jpg
Studio album by
Released4 May 1984[1]
StudioGenetic, Garden Studios and Trident
LabelFiction (UK)
Sire (US)
The Cure chronology
Japanese Whispers
The Top
The Head on the Door
The Cure studio album chronology
The Top
The Head on the Door
Singles from The Top
  1. "The Caterpillar"
    Released: 30 March 1984

The Top is the fifth studio album by English rock band The Cure, released on 4 May 1984 by Fiction Records. The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number ten on 12 May.[2] Shortly after its release, the Cure embarked on a major tour of the United Kingdom, culminating in a three-night residency at the Hammersmith Odeon in London.

Background and recording[edit]

After recording psychedelic album Blue Sunshine for the one-off project the Glove during summer 1983, Robert Smith finished off the year composing and working on two other studio albums at the same time: The Top for the Cure and Hyæna for Siouxsie and the Banshees. Smith was still the official guitarist of the Banshees while he wrote The Top.

For The Top, Smith teamed up with co-Cure founding member, Lol Tolhurst, who had given up drums for keyboards, and new drummer Andy Anderson, who had previously performed on the UK top 10 single "The Lovecats". Porl Thompson was credited for playing saxophone on "Give Me It". All the songs are credited to Smith but three tracks were co-written with Tolhurst: "The Caterpillar", "Bird Mad Girl" and "Piggy in the Mirror".[citation needed]


The album's style is eclectic, with Smith using various instruments including violin and flute. "Bird Mad Girl" is in a Spanish style, while "Wailing Wall" contains Middle Eastern undertones. Sounds critic Jack Barron described the opening track "Shake Dog Shake" as "urbane metal".[3]

Promotion, release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
The Austin Chronicle[5]
The Guardian[6]
Record Mirror[9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[10]
Smash Hits8/10[11]

Prior to its release, the Cure had been promoting the forthcoming album, performing live twice on UK television. In late February, they had played two songs on BBC Two's Oxford Road Show, "Shake Dog Shake" and "Give Me It" and in early April, they had appeared on Channel Four's The Tube to perform three other tracks, "Bananafishbones", "Piggy in the Mirror" and the title track of the record. The Top album was released on 4 May 1984 by record label Fiction. It was a commercial success in the UK, peaking at No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart.[13] "The Caterpillar" was the sole single released from the album.

Upon its release, the reaction in the British press was mostly positive. Steve Sutherland of Melody Maker praised the album for its "psychedelia that can't be dated",[14] while Andy Strike of Record Mirror called it "a record of wicked originality and wit".[9] In Smash Hits, Mark Ellen deemed The Top a "weird and wonderful" album with songs that "seem both enticing and faintly dangerous".[11] In contrast, Barron at Sounds noted that The Top is "too often not the true bottom line in reflected experience to be indisposable", but nevertheless prophesied, "In 20 years' time, when the next generation blush with excitement at the word 'Psychedelic', it'll be regarded as a classic".[3] On a more skeptical note, NME reviewer Danny Kelly considered it self-indulgent, qualifying it as "an ambitious, difficult record".[15]

In a retrospective review, Q writer Tom Doyle dismissed The Top as "a transitional record of forgettable songs".[8] Thomas Inskeep of Stylus Magazine wrote that The Top "may well be the nadir of their catalog", concluding he would call it "a transitional album and leave it at that, for what came subsequently was an honest-to-goodness marvel".[16] Chris True of AllMusic noted that while it is "an album obviously recorded under stress, drink, and drugs", Smith's ability "to fuse the paranoia and neuroses of former work with his newfound use of pop melody and outside influences" makes the record "a necessary step in the evolution of the band".[4]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Robert Smith, except where noted.

Side A

  1. "Shake Dog Shake" – 4:55
  2. "Bird Mad Girl" (Smith, Tolhurst) – 4:05
  3. "Wailing Wall" – 5:17
  4. "Give Me It" – 3:42
  5. "Dressing Up" – 2:51

Side B

  1. "The Caterpillar" (Smith, Tolhurst) – 3:40
  2. "Piggy in the Mirror" (Smith, Tolhurst) – 3:40
  3. "The Empty World" – 2:36
  4. "Bananafishbones" – 3:12
  5. "The Top" – 6:50
2006 Deluxe Edition bonus disc
1."You Stayed ... (Robert Smith Home Demo 8/82)"2:21
2."Ariel (Robert Smith Home Demo 8/82)"2:58
3."A Hand Inside My Mouth (Des Dames Studio Demo 8/83)"3:40
4."Sadacic (Olympic Studio Robert Smith Demo 12/83)"4:17
5."Shake Dog Shake (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"4:56
6."Piggy in the Mirror (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"3:40
7."Birdmad Girl (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"3:36
8."Give Me It (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"3:43
9."Throw Your Foot (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"3:31
10."Happy the Man (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"2:46
11."The Caterpillar (Garden/Eden Studios Robert Smith and Andy Anderson Demo 12/83)"4:17
12."Dressing Up (Genetic Studio Guide Vocal/Rough Mix 2/84)"2:14
13."Wailing Wall (Genetic Studio Rough Mix 2/84)"4:59
14."The Empty World (Live Bootleg – Hammersmith Odeon 5/84)"2:47
15."Bananafishbones (Live Bootleg – Hammersmith Odeon 5/84)"2:57
16."The Top (Live Bootleg – Hammersmith Odeon 5/84)"7:13
17."Forever (version) (Live Bootleg – Zenith Paris 5/84)"4:58


The Cure

Additional musicians

  • Porl Thompson – saxophone (on disc 1 and 2), keyboards and guitar (on Live tracks on disc 2)
  • Phil Thornalley – bass guitar (on Live tracks on disc 2)



Chart (1984) Peak
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[17] 12
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[18] 44
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[19] 23
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[20] 31
UK Albums (OCC)[13] 10
US Billboard 200[21] 180


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[22] Silver 60,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "News" (PDF). Record Mirror. 28 March 1984. p. 4. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  2. ^ "The Top". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Barron, Jack (5 May 1984). "From Top To...". Sounds. p. 22.
  4. ^ a b True, Chris. "The Top – The Cure". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  5. ^ Gray, Christopher (25 August 2006). "Depeche Mode, the Cure, and the Jesus & Mary Chain". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  6. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (11 August 2006). "The Cure, The Top". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b Doyle, Tom (September 2006). "Born Again". Q. No. 242. p. 118.
  9. ^ a b Strike, Andy (5 May 1984). "'Pillar Talk". Record Mirror. p. 19.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Ellen, Mark (26 April – 9 May 1984). "The Cure: The Top". Smash Hits. Vol. 6, no. 9. p. 23.
  12. ^ Martin, Piers (September 2006). "The Cure: 1. The Top / 2. The Head on the Door / 3. Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me / 4. The Glove: Blue Sunshine". Uncut. No. 112. p. 102.
  13. ^ a b "Cure | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  14. ^ Sutherland, Steve (5 May 1984). "Topsy-Turvy". Melody Maker. p. 24.
  15. ^ Kelly, Danny (5 May 1984). "Topspin Falls Flat". NME. p. 30.
  16. ^ Inskeep, Thomas (20 November 2006). "The Cure – The Top / The Head on the Door / Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me – Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 January 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  17. ^ " – The Cure – The Top" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  18. ^ " – The Cure – The Top" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  19. ^ " – The Cure – The Top". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  20. ^ " – The Cure – The Top". Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  21. ^ "The Cure Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  22. ^ "British album certifications – Cure – The Top". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 1 June 2019.

External links[edit]