My favorite 100 albums of all time: #76 ("Standing on a Beach / Staring at the Sea")

"Standing on a Beach" cover Today's pick is a look at the early work of The Cure. Standing on a Beach and Staring at the Sea are co-sharing the pick for #76, because the titles are almost the same album. Let me explain…

My introduction to this was in the late 80s, when I was still really new to The Cure and looking for the most bang for my buck. I found it in the cassette version of Standing On A Beach • The Singles (And Unavailable B-Sides). This is The Cure's early stuff, just up to 1985, so it's before the band really hit the charts with Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.

This extended play cassette had most of the singles as well as their b-sides. However, this sequence has not been duplicated on CD, and CD releases under the title Staring at the Sea have tracks not found on this collection but also omit the b-sides. No doubt a combination of media limitations (an extended play cassette can hold more songs than a CD), record companies grabbing money with both hands from completists (guilty), and the whims of the folks who put the tracks together.

So, I have to vote for both here, and have even gone to the lengths of re-creating the track order using The Cure's Join the Dots collection and other albums for my listening pleasure. So let's talk about all the goodness on these releases. All told there's 29 tracks between the various versions of the albums, so I'm just going to hit a few highlights on this one.

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My favorite 100 albums of all time: #82 ("The Big Express")

XTC album cover for "The Big Express" XTC's The Big Express pulls into the top 100 station at number 82. Roughly in the middle of the band's discography, The Big Express successfully melds the awkward New Wave-y XTC nicely with the more lush, Beatlesque XTC to come.

Picking my favorite XTC album or albums is sort of like trying to choose my favorite limbs or organs. Yes, when absolutely necessary, I could choose. That's not to say that I'd be happy losing any of them.

Likewise, I had to impose some rules on my top 100 to keep it being absolutely overrun with a few bands. Specifically, no more than three albums by any band or artist, and if I pick more than one, try to encompass as much of the band's career as possible. Or at least as much of their career as I actually enjoy.

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