CD Review of Blue Sunshine by The Glove

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Blue Sunshine
starstarstarstarno star Label: Rhino
Released: 1983
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You can usually separate the casual Cure fan from the diehard with one simple question: “So, what do you think of the Glove album?” If the person looks at you blankly, then, clearly, they haven’t bothered to delve into the band’s history very much; if they had, then they’d be familiar with this one-off collaboration between Cure frontman Robert Smith and his sometime colleague from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Steve Severin. (Actually, come to think of it, that’s another way to separate casual from diehard: ask them for which other major ‘80s alternative band did Smith play guitar.)

Taking their name from the Beatles’ animated film “Yellow Submarine,” the Glove never performed any concerts (though they did make a pair of television appearances) and didn’t really make much in the way of commercial headway…but, then, that was probably always destined to be the case. The whole idea behind the project was for Smith and Severin to absorb as much acid and junk culture as possible, then produce an album’s worth of downright psychedelic music, using a veritable cornucopia of instrumentation for maximum weirdness. Not exactly the stuff that gets you onto “Top of the Pops.”

The thing which turns a lot of people off about the Glove’s lone release, Blue Sunshine, is that Smith only sings lead on two tracks: “Mr. Alphabet Says” and “Perfect Murder.” He was contractually forbidden from appearing on any more than that, so taking vocals on the remaining songs was one Jeanette Landray, a dancer who was – at the time – the girlfriend of Banshees drummer Pete “Budgie” Clark. She’s not a bad singer, but it’s possibly telling that a trip to the All Music Guide shows absolutely no other musical credits for her, neither before nor since.

Blue Sunshine’s opening salvo is one which, frankly, did deserve to get the group onto “Top of the Pops.” Check the credits, but despite how it sounds, New Order’s Peter Hook is not playing the bass on this track; it’s Severin thrumming his way through the song, with Landray sounding just enough like Siouxsie Sioux to give you pause. From there, it’s onto the glistening “Looking Glass Girl,” followed by the guitar wanking and acid-drenched lyrics of “Sex-Eye-Make-Up”:

Throw out your teeth and call all your friends
Someone coughing took away my breath
Inches of glass all shiny and new
Fucks me to death

Given that there’s also a track called “Orgy,” it’s clear that Smith and Severin have lovin’ on their minds.

Jaunty piano kicks off the Smith-sung “Mr. Alphabet Says,” but it quickly descends into a more downbeat tone not so far off from “The Lovecats” or “Speak My Language.” There are a pair of instrumentals on the album proper – “A Blues in Drag” and album closer “Relax” – with the former being somewhat delicate and the latter being just plain weird. Tacked onto Disc 1 are different mixes of “Like an Animal” and “Punish Me with Kisses,” along with “The Man from Nowhere,” “Mouth to Mouth,” and “The Tightrope,” three tracks which are described as being “bonus,” although there’s no clarification as to where they came from originally. B-sides? Maybe, but it doesn’t say here…which is surprising for a reissue from the usually in-depth Rhino. Still, of these bonus tracks, the best is unquestionably “Mouth to Mouth,” which rivals most of the songs that actually appear on the album.

While interesting for the occasional spin, Blue Sunshine is a weird album that doesn’t really inspire a lot of repeat listenings. So why does it lunge from the three-star rating the proper album really deserves into the four-star rating that it currently possesses? Ah, that comes courtesy of the disc of rarities that’s been added to this Rhino reissue of the album. At long last, we have the opportunity to hear Robert Smith’s vocal demos for all of the tracks, which in effect presents us with a heretofore-unheard Cure album…and a damned good one, too. You can definitely hear hints of the sound the band was heading toward with The Head on the Door…and since that’s one of the best albums of their career, you can imagine that these demos are something all Cure fans will want to check out.

~Will Harris