Three Imaginary Boys

Three Imaginary Boys is the debut studio album by English rock band the Cure, released on 11 May 1979 by Fiction Records. It was later released in the United States, Canada, and Australia with a different track listing as a compilation album titled Boys Don't Cry.[1]

Three Imaginary Boys
Studio album by
Released11 May 1979
StudioMorgan, London
ProducerChris Parry
The Cure chronology
Three Imaginary Boys
Boys Don't Cry
The Cure studio album chronology
Three Imaginary Boys
Seventeen Seconds


Three Imaginary Boys was released on 11 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 that he is given complete creative control over the final product before it goes on sale.[2] 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".[3]

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. As 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. A one-disc reissue was released on 5 September 2005, containing only the original album. It was also released in the standard jewel case rather than in 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     [4]
Blender     [5]
The Guardian     [6]
The Irish Times     [7]
Record Mirror     [9]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [10]
Smash Hits8/10[11]
Sounds     [12]
Uncut     [13]

Despite Smith's displeasure with the record, Three Imaginary Boys was well received critically at the time of its release.[2] 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."[12] Red Starr, writing in Smash Hits, described the album as a "brilliant, compelling debut."[11] However, NME's Paul Morley did not 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."[14]

Chris True of AllMusic retrospectively called the album "a very strong debut" and a "semi-detached bit of late-'70s English pop-punk".[4] 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."[8] He also called the album "spiky post-punk."[15] BBC Music critic Simon Morgan said "Smith was forging his own take on the post-punk zeitgeist,"[16] while author Martin C. Strong said it "remains among the Cure's finest work," adding that "their strangely accessible post-punk snippets lent an air of suppressed melancholy."[17] The album was also described as "a collection of melodic but slightly kooky power-pop" by Chris Gerard of PopMatters.[18]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are 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 version)Jimi Hendrix2:29
2."Meat Hook" 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
Deluxe Edition bonus disc
1."I Want to Be Old" (SAV studio demo, October 1977; previously unreleased)2:36
2."I'm Cold" (SAV studio demo, November 1977)3:21
3."Heroin Face" (live in The Rocket, Crawley, December 1977; previously available on Curiosity)2:40
4."I Just Need Myself" (PSL studio demo, January 1978; previously unreleased)2:14
5."10:15 Saturday Night" (Robert Smith home demo, February 1978)4:36
6."The Cocktail Party" (group home demo, March 1978; previously unreleased)4:17
7."Grinding Halt" (group home demo, April 1978)3:31
8."Boys Don't Cry" (Chestnut studio demo, May 1978; previously available on Curiosity)2:45
9."It's Not You" (Chestnut studio demo, May 1978)3:16
10."10:15 Saturday Night" (Chestnut studio demo, May 1978)3:41
11."Fire in Cairo" (Chestnut studio demo, May 1978)3:42
12."Winter" (Three Imaginary Boys studio outtake, October 1978; previously unreleased)3:46
13."Faded Smiles" (also known as "I Don't Know"; Three Imaginary Boys studio outtake, October 1978; previously unreleased)2:16
14."Play with Me" (Three Imaginary Boys studio outtake, October 1978; previously unreleased)3:30
15."World War" (on early copies of Boys Don't Cry)2:38
16."Boys Don't Cry" (also on Boys Don't Cry)2:37
17."Jumping Someone Else's Train" (also on Boys Don't Cry)2:59
18."Subway Song" (live in Nottingham, October 1979; previously available on Curiosity)2:27
19."Accuracy" (live in Nottingham, October 1979)2:36
20."10:15 Saturday Night" (live in Nottingham, October 1979)4:38


  • 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
  • Bill Smith – art direction, sleeve design, additional photography


  1. ^ "The Cure | Boys Don't Cry". 5 February 2016.
  2. ^ a b Apter, Jeff (2009). Never Enough: The Story of The Cure. Omnibus Press.
  3. ^ Oldham, James (August 2004). "The Gothfather". Uncut. No. 87. pp. 50–66.
  4. ^ a b True, Chris. "Three Imaginary Boys – The Cure". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  5. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 2005). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys". Blender. No. 41. Archived from the original on 27 November 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ Sweeting, Adam (17 December 2004). "The Cure, Three Imaginary Boys Deluxe Edition". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  7. ^ Courtney, Kevin (17 December 2004). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys – Deluxe Edition (Fiction/Polydor)". The Irish Times. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  8. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (14 December 2004). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys [Deluxe Edition]". Pitchfork. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  9. ^ Westwood, Chris (19 May 1979). "Physician Rock 'n' Roll Thyself!". Record Mirror. p. 16.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Starr, Red (28 June – 11 July 1979). "Albums". Smash Hits. Vol. 1, no. 15. p. 25.
  12. ^ a b McCullough, Dave (12 December 1979). "Cure Pop for Now People". Sounds.
  13. ^ Martin, Piers (January 2005). "The Cure: Three Imaginary Boys". Uncut. No. 92. p. 146.
  14. ^ Morley, Paul (12 May 1979). "A Cure for Cancer?". NME.
  15. ^ 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 14 February 2020.
  16. ^ Morgan, Simon (2 December 2004). "The Cure Three Imaginary Boys (Deluxe Edition) Review". BBC Music. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  17. ^ Strong, Martin C. The Essential Rock Discography.
  18. ^ Gerard, Chris (1 October 2015). "The 100 Greatest Alternative Singles of the '80s: Part 5: 20 – 1". PopMatters. p. 3. Retrieved 14 February 2020.

External linksEdit