Seventeen Seconds

Seventeen Seconds

Infobox Album |
Name = Seventeen Seconds
Type = Album
Artist = The Cure

Released = April 22, 1980
Recorded = Morgan Studio One
Genre = Gothic rock
Length = 35:40
Label = Fiction Records
Producer = Mike Hedges and Robert Smith
Reviews =
* Allmusic Rating|3|5 [ link]
* Pitchfork Media (7.5/10) [ link]
Last album = "Three Imaginary Boys"
This album = "Seventeen Seconds"
Next album = "Faith"
Misc = Singles
Name = Seventeen Seconds
Type = studio
single 1 = A Forest
single 1 date = 8 April 1980

"Seventeen Seconds" is the second studio album by The Cure, released in April 1980 by Fiction Records. It is the only Cure album to feature keyboardist Matthieu Hartley.


The album's songs are described by critics as bearing vague, often unsettling lyrics and "dark", spare minimalistic melodies. Some reviewers felt that "Seventeen Seconds" represented a far more mature Cure, who had come very far musically in less than one year [Kent, Nick. "Seventeen Seconds" review. "NME". 26 April 1980] . The record, mostly a collection of downbeat tracks, features ambient echoing vocals and minimally-treated instruments. [Nitsuh Abebe. [ Pitchfork Media review of "Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography"] ] Smith said the record was produced with Michael Hedges very quickly; indeed, the track "The Final Sound" was actually planned to be much longer, but was cut down to 53 seconds because the tape ran out while recording, and they couldn't record it again. Inspiration was also very high, as Smith wrote the lyrics and music for most of the record on just two occasions. Most of the music was composed by Smith in his parents' home, on a Hammond organ with a built in tape recorder. Unfortunately, these demo sessions have been lost, which as been attributed for the lack of demo tracks on the remaster.

"Seventeen Seconds" was lauded by some critics, and panned as a "collection of soundtracks" by others. One reviewer described the album as a "sad Cure, sitting in cold rooms, watching clocks". Despite the mixed reception, the band was featured in several lengthy articles with numerous photos of a slender Smith, without makeup, who one critic called "alarmingly handsome", and the album was relatively successful when released. There was controversy concerning the band's "anti-image", established by the cover of "Three Imaginary Boys", which this album contributed to by blurring the photos of the band's members and the cover art. This is the first Cure album Smith was able to choose the art for.

Bassist Simon Gallup and keyboardist Matthieu Hartley were added to the band's lineup. Gallup replaced Michael Dempsey, which relieved Smith as he felt Dempsey's basslines were too ornate and that they weren't gelling socially. Hartley's synth work added a new dimension to the band's newly ethereal sound, although Smith and he clashed over complexity (Hartley enjoyed complex chords; Smith wanted single notes). Like Dempsey, Hartley made a departure from the group, the latter after "Seventeen Seconds".

This record was repackaged in the UK (on the A&M label) with Faith as "Happily Ever After" — available as a double album or a single CD.

In 2000, "Q" magazine placed "Seventeen Seconds" at number 65 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever.

During concerts, songs from "Seventeen Seconds" are typically grouped together and only played during the encore, as it has grown to be a fan favorite. Common "Seventeen Seconds" based encores are "M", "Play For Today", and "A Forest". "At Night" is sometimes also included; the other six songs have not been played recently; however "In Your House" appears on the "Paris" album, along with "Play for Today" and "At Night". Robert Smith did perform the song "Seventeen Seconds" as an opener to a festival in Europe in 2003, "Secrets" has not been played since 1985, and "Three" has not seen a performance since the original Seventeen Seconds tour in 1980.

2005 re-release

"Seventeen Seconds" was reissued in the UK 25 April 2005 (26 April in the U.S.) as part of Universal's Deluxe Edition series. The new edition featured a remastered version of the album on the first disc, while the second contained demo and live tracks. However, the master tapes for the album were accidentally erased by a washing machine magnet, so this remaster was sourced from vinyl, unlike the rest. On the rarities disc, four of these rarities are recorded by the one-off Cult Hero, a group that featured Smith's postman Frank Bell as lead singer and which performed 70's style rock along the lines of Easy Cure. Disc 2 contains versions, either in demo or live form, of all 10 songs on the first disc. There are no never-before-heard tracks on the disc.

There also exists a one-CD reissue. It was released on 5 September 2005 in the UK and 4 April 2006 in the US. The CD features the original album, but does not contain the bonus disc. It is also released in the standard jewel case, and not a digipak. In some countries, the "Deluxe Edition" has become a collector's item and the production has phased out, being replaced by the more economic one-CD version.

Track listing

All songs written by Smith / Gallup / Hartley / Tolhurst.

Original 1980 release

# "A Reflection" (Instrumental) – 2:09
# "Play for Today" – 3:39
# "Secrets" – 3:20
# "In Your House" – 4:07
# "Three" – 2:36
# "The Final Sound" (Instrumental) – 0:53
# "A Forest" – 5:55
# "M" – 3:03
# "At Night" – 5:54
# "Seventeen Seconds" – 4:02

2005 Deluxe Edition

Disc one

;Original album, as above

Disc two

# "I'm a Cult Hero" (vinyl single by Cult Hero) - 2:59
# "I Dig You" (vinyl single by Cult Hero) - 3:40
# "Another Journey by Train" (instrumental home demo) - 3:12
# "Secrets" (instrumental home demo) - 3:40
# "Seventeen Seconds" (live) - 3:59
# "In Your House" (live) - 3:32
# "Three" (alt studio mix) - 2:45
# "I Dig You" (Cult Hero live) - 3:36
# "I'm a Cult Hero" (Cult Hero live) - 3:21
# "M" (live) - 2:56
# "The Final Sound" (live) - 0:26
# "A Reflection" (live) - 1:39
# "Play for Today" (live) - 3:46
# "At Night" (live) - 5:37
# "A Forest" (live) - 6:28


* Robert Smith - guitars, vocals
* Matthieu Hartley - keyboards
* Lol Tolhurst - drums
* Simon Gallup - bass
* Frank Bell - Lead singer for Cult Hero, and tracks 1,2,8 and 9 on the Deluxe "Seventeen Seconds"' second disc.


*Producers: Robert Smith, Mike Hedges
*Co-producers: Chris Parry, Simon Gallup, Laurence Tolhurst and Matthieu Hartley
*Engineers: Mike Hedges, David Kemp
*Assistant engineer: Martyn Webster


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