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Three Imaginary Boys is the debut album by British alternative rock band the Cure, released on 8 May 1979 by record label Fiction. It was later released in the United States, Canada and Australia with a different tracklist as Boys Don't Cry.

Three Imaginary Boys
Studio album by
Released8 May 1979
StudioMorgan Studios, London, England
ProducerChris Parry
The Cure chronology
Three Imaginary Boys
Boys Don't Cry



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

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 that 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 band's first single, "Killing an Arab", was excluded from the reissue. 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.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [3]
Blender     [4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [5]
The Guardian     [6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [8]
Smash Hits8/10[9]
Sounds     [10]
Uncut     [11]

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".[10] Red Starr, writing in Smash Hits, described the album as a "brilliant, compelling debut".[9] 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".[12]

Chris True of AllMusic retrospectively called it "a very strong debut", and a "semi-detached bit of late-'70s English pop-punk".[3] Nitsuh Abebe of Pitchfork likened the album to a "new wave Wire... [or] Joy Division" and called it "as original a record as anything else to spin off from the tail end of punk."[7] BBC said "Smith was forging his own take on the post-punk zeitgeist",[13] while critic Martin C. Strong said it "remains among the Cure's finest work", where "their strangely accessible post-punk snippets lent an air of suppressed melancholy".[14]

Live performancesEdit

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.[15] These shows, billed as The Cure: "Reflections", were filmed for potential DVD release.

Track listingEdit

All tracks written by the Cure (Robert Smith, Michael Dempsey and Lol Tolhurst), except as noted.

Side A
1."10:15 Saturday Night"3:42
3."Grinding Halt"2:49
4."Another Day"3:44
6."Subway Song"2:00
Side B
1."Foxy Lady" (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)Jimi Hendrix2:29
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."The Weedy Burton" 1:04


  • 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". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  4. ^ Wolk, Douglas (20 September 2005). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys". Blender. Archived from the original on 27 November 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Sweeting, Adam (17 December 2004). "The Cure, Three Imaginary Boys Deluxe Edition". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (14 December 2004). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys [Deluxe Edition]". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2004). "The Cure". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 205–06. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ a b Starr, Red (28 June 1979). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys (Polydor/Fiction)". Smash Hits: 25.
  10. ^ a b McCullough, Dave (12 December 1979). "Cure Pop for Now People". Sounds.
  11. ^ "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys". Uncut: 146. In 1978, The Cure, suburban teens indebted to punk, sounded fresh and unusual even then, penning unorthodox pop like 'Fire in Cairo'.
  12. ^ Morley, Paul (12 May 1979). "A Cure for Cancer?". NME.
  13. ^ "BBC - Music - Review of the Cure - Three Imaginary Boys (Deluxe Edition)".
  14. ^ "The Essential Rock Discography" by Martin Charles Strong
  15. ^ Wener, Ben (23 November 2011). "Live Review: The Cure's Reflections at the Panteges – Soundcheck : The Orange County Register". Retrieved 20 October 2012.

External linksEdit