Sunday, October 26, 2008
Top Five Part Five: Robert Smith Guitar Solos
Although heralded for his masterful mopery, Robert Smith has long been neglected as a fine guitarist. He didn't really develop his own sound until the Cure's middle period, but when he did, he spoke gracefully and thoughtfully through his instrument every time. Because there have been so many Cure bootlegs and unofficial recordings that have inevitably made their way through fans' hands over the years, I considered including some of these moments, but ulitimately decided against that because not *everyone* has had the chance to hear them. So, of the officially released stuff, here are my top five favorite Robert Smith guitar solos..
#5 - 'Treasure' (Wild Mood Swings, 1996)
Just gorgeously pretty stuff. Perfectly vintage tone and sound for Mr. Smith. It is perhaps the most representative solo he's ever taken on a record, but it fits the song so incredibly well.
#4 - 'A Night Like This' (live from The Cure In Orange) ('Catch' 12" b-side, 1986)
This is one song where the definitive versions are not studio recordings, but live versions. And it seems like the more they played it, the better it got. Bob (thankfully) did not decide to replicate the sax solo heard on the studio recording, but instead he takes a solo in that spot. I think he pretty much plays the same solo every time on this song (or at least he starts it with the same phrase), but this one just feels completely right. Make that sax solo look silly (or sillier, as the case may be).
#3 - 'Burn' (The Crow soundtrack, 1993)
Epic Cure at its absolute best. The song just builds and builds this unbelieveable tension and it feels like the only time that's slightly relieved is when Bob takes this incredible solo. They really should play this song live.
#2 - 'The Same Deep Water As You' (Disintegration, 1989)
Nearly classical in its scope, I've often said that it's not the lyrics that are the saddest thing about this song, but the solo that Bob takes. It just reaches an unspeakable depth of poignancy.
#1 - 'Faith' (live) ('Charlotte Sometimes' 12" b-side, 1981)
The song 'Faith' is pretty much the blueprint for that vintage Robert Smith six string bass sound and tone, but this epic 10+ minute live recording illustrates fully for the first time the potential the sound and style had for reaching emotional depths. This set the stage for many more epic renditions of the tune in years to come, but this recording from the tour for the Faith album stands out because the tune was still fairly new to the band at this point and, despite the tempo, there is an urgency and longing in the tone of the solos Bob takes. Really superb stuff. Thankfully, it was rescued from out of print Cure b-side obscurity with the deluxe edition of the Faith album a few years ago.