The 2004 US release of THREE IMAGINARY BOYS was a momentous event for stateside Cure fans, as it marked the first time the band's 1979 debut album had ever been available on CD in America. Equally enticing is the bonus disc containing '77-'79 demos, live tracks, and other rarities. The Cure's first US release was 1980's BOYS DON'T CRY, which replaced a number of TIB's tracks with previously non-LP singles, presenting a significantly different picture of the band.
Far from the cloudy, effects-drenched goth-pop sound that later became its trademark, the Cure is in stripped-down mode here, delivering fairly straight-ahead post-punk tunes suggestive of a less angst-ridden Joy Division or a funkless Gang of Four. The stark, rhythm-guitar-dominated sound makes excellent use of space, suggesting a familiarity with dub that's confirmed by the reggae-tinged "Meat Hook" (one of the tracks left off BOYS DON'T CRY). The rarities disc completes the picture, showing the earliest developmental stages of the band and presenting staples such as "Boys Don't Cry" and "10:15 Saturday Night" in embryonic form.
Uncut (p.146) - 4 stars out of 5 - "In 1978, The Cure, suburban teens indebted to punk, sounded fresh and unusual even then, penning unorthodox pop like 'Fire In Cairo'."