Three Imaginary Boys

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Three Imaginary Boys
Studio album by The Cure
Released 8 May 1979
Recorded 1978–1979
Studio Morgan Studios, London, England
Genre Post-punk, new wave
Length 33:44
Label Fiction
Producer Chris Parry
The Cure chronology
Three Imaginary Boys
Seventeen Seconds

Three Imaginary Boys is the debut studio album by English rock band the Cure, who were at that time a trio. It was released on 8 May 1979 by record label Fiction. It was later released in the United States and Australia with a different song tracklist as Boys Don't Cry.


The record company decided which songs were put on the album, as well as the cover artwork, without Robert Smith's consent. For all Cure albums since, Smith has ensured he is given complete creative control over the final product before it goes on sale.[1]

The "Foxy Lady" soundcheck, with vocals sung by Michael Dempsey, was not supposed to be on the album, and was removed for the American release. Smith has stated that "songs like 'Object' and 'World War' and our cover of 'Foxy Lady' were [Chris Parry's] choice".[2]


Three Imaginary Boys was released on 8 May 1979 by record label Fiction.

The album was reissued on 29 November 2004 and featured a second disc of unreleased material, including songs recorded under the band name "Easy Cure" with Porl Thompson. It was originally supposed to be released in early 2004 along with the band's next three studio albums (Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography), but was delayed multiple times before being released by itself at the end of 2004. Since it featured a variety of old songs, it was the only Deluxe Edition by the band which did not include an alternate version of each song on the first disc. Some of the early booklets in the reissue had missing lyrics, which were made available on the Cure's website in PDF form.[citation needed] All copies since contain the lyrics.

The first single, "Killing an Arab", was excluded from the reissue, most likely due to its controversial nature (see the article).

A one-disc reissue was released on 5 September 2005, containing only the original album. It was also released in the standard jewel case, and not a box. In some countries, the Deluxe Edition has become a collector's item as production was phased out, being replaced by the more economic single-disc version.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[3]
NME unfavourable[4]
Pitchfork 8.7/10[5]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[6]
Smash Hits 8/10[7]
Sounds favourable[8]

Despite Smith's displeasure with the record, Three Imaginary Boys was well-received critically at the time of its release.[1] Sounds' Dave McCullough praised it in a 5-star review and noted: "The Cure are going somewhere different on each track, the ideas are startling and disarming". McCullough noted the variety of the material and qualified "Grinding Halt" as a "pop song that reminds you of the Isley Brothers or the Buzzcocks".[8] Red Starr, writing in Smash Hits, described the album as a "brilliant, compelling debut".[7] However, NME's Paul Morley didn't share the same point of view and wrote: "Most of the time, it's a voice catching its breath, a cautiously primitive riff guitar, toy drumming and a sprightly bass".[4]

Chris True of AllMusic retrospectively christened it "a very strong debut", and a "semi-detached bit of late-'70s English pop-punk".[3] Nitsuh Abebe of Pitchfork called it "as original a record as anything else to spin off from the tail end of punk."[5] BBC said "Smith was forging his own take on the post-punk zeitgeist",[9] while critic Martin Charles Strong said it "remains among the Cure's finest work, their strangely accessible post-punk snippets lent an air of suppressed melancholy".[10]

Live performances[edit]

On the 2007–2008 4 Play Tour, the band performed, as an encore, "Three Imaginary Boys", "Fire in Cairo", "Boys Don't Cry", "Jumping Someone Else's Train", "Grinding Halt", "10:15 Saturday Night" and "Killing an Arab" (sung as "Killing Another") (the singles "Boys Don't Cry", "Jumping Someone Else's Train" and "Killing an Arab" were on the American edition of the album).

In 2011, the Cure performed the album in its entirety at venues in Sydney, New York and Los Angeles.[11] These shows, billed as The Cure: "Reflections", were filmed for potential DVD release.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by The Cure (Robert Smith, Michael Dempsey and Lol Tolhurst), except as noted. 

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "10:15 Saturday Night"   3:42
2. "Accuracy"   2:17
3. "Grinding Halt"   2:49
4. "Another Day"   3:44
5. "Object"   3:03
6. "Subway Song"   2:00
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Foxy Lady" (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover version) Jimi Hendrix 2:29
2. "Meathook"     2:17
3. "So What"     2:37
4. "Fire in Cairo"     3:23
5. "It's Not You"     2:49
6. "Three Imaginary Boys"     3:17
7. "Untitled" (hidden track; also known as "The Weedy Burton")   1:04
Note: The album included an uncredited, final instrumental track informally called "The Weedy Burton". This fact was not acknowledged until the Deluxe Edition reissue.


The Cure
Additional personnel
  • Porl Thompson – lead guitar, backing vocals (1–4, 6, 7 of bonus disc)
  • David Dragon – sleeve illustrations
  • Michael J. Dutton – "assistant"
  • Martyn Goddard – sleeve photography
  • Mike Hedges – engineering
  • Connie Jude – sleeve illustrations
  • Chris Parry – production
  • B. Smith – sleeve photography
  • Bill Smith – sleeve design


  1. ^ a b Apter, Jeff (5 November 2009). Never Enough: The Story of The Cure. Omnibus Press. 
  2. ^ "[Article on the Cure]". Uncut. August 2004. 
  3. ^ a b True, Chris. "Three Imaginary Boys – The Cure | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Morley, Paul (May 12, 1979). "A Cure for Cancer?". NME. 
  5. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (14 December 2004). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys [Deluxe Edition] | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". Pitchfork. 
  6. ^ "The Cure: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Starr, Red (28 June 1979). "Albums". Smash Hits: 25. 
  8. ^ a b McCullough, Dave (12 December 1979). "Cure Pop for Now People". Sounds. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "The Essential Rock Discography" by Martin Charles Strong
  11. ^ Wener, Ben (23 November 2011). "Live Review: The Cure's Reflections at the Panteges – Soundcheck : The Orange County Register". Retrieved 20 October 2012. 

External links[edit]