Robert Smith Discovers Cure For 'Greatest Hits' Syndrome

The vaccine is called Galore, a singles collection that includes one new song.

If Robert Smith has his way, he won't have to see a record company release a 'greatest hits' album of what it considers the most commercial Cure songs.

At least while the Cure are still together, that is.

Rather, Smith is happy, once every decade, to compile the band's singles onto a CD. And if the band's first singles collection, 1986's Standing on the Beach, is any indication, so are the Cure's fans.

"I've always held it in my mind that when the group finishes, the last thing that's going to come out that's called 'Greatest Hits' and has the Cure's name on it will be my choice of songs that have meant something to me through the 20 years of doing it," Smith said. "Not someone's decision of what's commercially the best choice."

The Cure singer/frontman said it was he who pushed for the upcoming collection of singles, Galore-- The Singles 1987-1997 (Oct. 28), which features one new track, "Wrong Number."

Now is the perfect time to release Galore, Smith added. "I figured if it didn't happen this year, it wouldn't happen at all, because it [all the singles] just fits in the 75-minute time constraints of a CD," said Smith, 38. "I knew that trying to argue for a double-CD of singles wasn't going to wash."

Smith said the 18-track collection, a sequel to 1986's Standing on the Beach singles sampler, was primarily his way of staving off the dreaded "greatest hits" album he's been fighting against for the past four years, as well as collecting all the band's commercial singles since the last compilation.

Consider it a case of semantics, though. "Because our greatest hits, as far as I'm concerned, of the past 10 years, are all on this album," Smith noted.

The rest of the tracks on Galore are: "Why Can't I Be You?," "Catch," "Just Like Heaven," "Hot Hot Hot!!!," "Lullaby," "Fascination Street," "Lovesong," "Pictures of You," "Never Enough," "Close to Me," "High," "Friday I'm In Love," "A Letter to Elise," "The 13th," "Mint Car," "Strange Attraction" and "Gone."

Fittingly, the new song on the album, "Wrong Number," will be its first single. Recorded with ex-Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels, the uptempo rock track is full of buzzing electronic noise, funky staccato guitar licks, a grinding dance-floor beat and dramatically spooky see-saw vocals from Smith.

The track was recorded this summer in London over a whirlwind weekend and co-produced by Smith and Mark Plati, who mixed Bowie's latest album, Earthling. Smith said he'd been recording over the past few months, popping in and out of studios for two or three days at a time to finish one song, Smith said. "I'd got this song 'Wrong Number' and it really sort of stuck out," Smith said of the churning number, which sounds as if it could have fit in on the band's 1990 remix album, All Mixed Up.

Smith said he has been waiting for a new single so he could convince the record company to go ahead with Galore. Full of inspiration, he phoned up Plati, who he'd met in New York earlier in the year. By chance, Gabrels, who he'd also met and played with earlier in the year, was in town and willing to drop by that weekend. The sessions began on a Friday night and by Sunday night they had the single finished and mixed.

"It's just such a pure single, really," said Smith, pointing out that the bright, machine-like song is not pertinent to the new, and "very different," Cure album he's currently working on. "It's a very rock song," he added. "It's not very Cure, but I've never worked with anyone as fantastic as Reeves."

Smith said he was so taken with the Gabrels' collaboration, in fact, that he's been talking with the group about working with a number of "outsiders" on new Cure material to allow him to broaden the scope of the band and experiment with new sounds. "I think the next Cure album will be a very different prospect," Smith said, preferring to not elaborate on which musicians have already been approached to record parts for the album, due during the first half of 1998. [Mon., Sept. 29, 1997, 9 a.m. PDT]