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Dreamtime: The Cult’s early years
06.30.2016
03:36 pm

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Music

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The Cult


 
Although perhaps their best days are long behind them, The Cult were a powerful live act in the 1980s and they’re still pretty good. I’ve seen them play several times, in London, New York, Austin and LA going back to 1983 and those shows were among the more memorable gigs I’ve ever attended.

Ian Astbury’s original group was called The Southern Death Cult and then just Death Cult. Their earliest music is more in line with Killing Joke perhaps, with a hefty dollop of Adam Ant thrown into the mix, too, little resembling the hard rock the group would be turning out by the late-80s.

Especially early on, the Cult’s rabid fan-base was so incredibly devoted that they’d follow the group around like unwashed punky Deadheads, night after night. Backpacks and sleeping bags were in (annoying) abundance at every show. The band could really capture the imagination of their followers who seemed like they were having a communal pagan religious experience watching them. Their shows did have a truly Dionysian drama to them that no other group I can think of achieved so totally and completely other than maybe Killing Joke. (It’s no wonder that the surviving Doors wanted Ian Astbury to be their front man, he was the obvious choice!)
 

 
I found their early concerts mesmerizing and unlike anything I had ever seen before. Or smelled. The Cult’s fans were among the first of the “New Age Travelers” (also called “Crusties” at the time) and a few hundred of them in one room without adequate ventilation was not something you’d care to get a whiff of, as anyone who saw them back then can attest to. Flagrant “BO” was an unavoidable element of a Cult gig in the early 80s. Probably 90% of the audience (including me) lived in squats. It was that kind of scene. Their shows always smelled just like McDonald’s hamburgers although I suspect many of their audience members then were some of the original vegans.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Ressurection Joe’: The amazing early single by The Cult that fell through the cracks
03.24.2016
05:19 pm

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Music

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The Cult


 
The Cult’s “Ressurection Joe” single came out at the end of 1984 and sonically it’s the midpoint bridge between their Dreamtime album of that autumn and what would come a year later with their more “classic rock”-styled longplayer Love, the album that broke the one time goth rockers into the big leagues.

AllMusic.com’s Ned Raggett called the (intentionally misspelled?) “Ressurection Joe” single:

“... a queasy, nervous, and frenetic combination of aggro epic and swampy funk, which remains an undeservedly forgotten highlight from the early ‘80s, topped only by the dramatic sweep of the later “She Sells Sanctuary.”

I’d have to agree. It’s easily one of their best, most memorable songs but it’s one that fell through the cracks for many fans more into their later harder-rocking albums like Love, Electric or Sonic Temple but less aware of the tribal/goth ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ squat punk of their earlier incarnations as the Southern Death Cult and later just Death Cult.
 

 
Here’s the video for “Ressurection Joe” with Ian Astbury playing a voodoo-y Dickensian snake-oil salesman—his look perhaps pinched from Christopher Lee’s character in 1958’s Corridors of Blood named—ahem—”Resurrection Joe”—who is clearly up to no good. It says on the Wikipedia page that this video was unknown until the mid-90s when it was released on the VHS home video collection Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995, but I seem to recall that MTV was running this fairly regularly at the time when Love was first charting.
 

 
After the jump an amazing ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’ performance of “Ressurection Joe

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Cult tearing it up on ‘The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers’ in 1987
08.17.2015
12:03 pm

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Music
Television

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Joan Rivers
Ian Astbury
The Cult

Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy and Joan Rivers circa 1987
 
The Cult were riding high on their 1987 release, Electric when they made this blistering appearance on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers in May of 1987. Rivers was fired from The Late Show later that month and celebrated in rock star fashion by trashing the set with toilet paper and shaving cream with the help of Wendy O. Williams of all people. But I digress.

In the clip below, The Cult deliver a completely raw and raucous performance of two songs from Electric “Lil’ Devil” and “Born to Be Wild” (complete with full-on big hair headbanging). It also just so happened to be the 25th birthday of vocalist, Ian Astbury. During the interview segment the phone on the stage rings (an actual landline phone mind you), and on the other end was none other than Astbury’s father who was calling to wish his son a happy birthday. I’m not usually one for getting all mushy over lovey-dovey stuff, but this moment made my eyes a little leaky. I should probably get that checked out. The video, which should be turned up as loud as possible for maximum pleasure, follows.
 

The Cult on The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Episode #146, May 14th, 1987

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Watch The Cult’s transformation from mall-goth to hard rock in these 1986 concert clips
06.24.2014
09:28 am

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Music

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The Cult


 
Like most suburban ‘80s kids, I found out about The Cult via MTVs saturation-play of “She Sells Sanctuary,” which managed to break out of the alternawhatever programming blocks to find a place in regular daily rotation. I really did adore the absolute shit out of the album that spawned it, Love, and so I backtracked to their excellent prior album Dreamtime. But hearing concert recordings almost completely ruined even those great albums for me. Their live energy made the studio recordings seem so tepid and anemic by comparison, I nearly stopped listening to them.
 

 
Of course, they famously and drastically ramped up the energy with their next album, Electric, but while I enjoy that album a great deal now, I was disappointed when it was released. I saw them as Judases, pandering to bonehead wallets by copping arena buttrock tropes. Of course, I was just being an overly tribalistic kid. The reality was that this was a band finding itself in its desire to rock the fuck out, and didn’t see any point in hiding it since they were already trying to tap that sort of energy in their relatively fey gothic flowerchild era, and one could make the case that they foresaw the underground’s phasing-out of mall-goth trappings in favor of heavier sounds. A pair of 1986 performances gives a taste of that transition.
 

 
That was a TV appearance, with all songs culled from the Love LP, though bafflingly, the big puttin’-asses-in-seats single “She Sells Sanctuary” isn’t included. They’re still firmly in the gothy-pop realm, though the energy there noticeably bests the LP.

Now check this out. This is a concert from Finland, later that same year, when the band was working on their next album. It was to be titled Peace, but the original recordings were was entirely jettisoned. Def Jam’s Rick Rubin re-recorded the material, treating it like an AC/DC album, and it eventually saw release retitled Electric, with the band awkwardly beginning to affect an attempted badass persona. But pay attention to the version of “Love Removal Machine” that they play. It’s the rejected original, and it’s pretty well unrecognizable to fans who’ve only heard the LP/single version. Those original scrapped tracks have been released as the limited Manor Sessions EP, and on the Rare Cult box set, but both of those are now rare, out of print collectibles. That material was at last made available again last year, under the title Electric Peace, which as you’ve surely guessed is a 2XLP containing both versions of the album.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
Dreamtime: The Cult live at the Lyceum, 1984

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘She Sells Sanctuary’: The sheer awesomeness of The Cult
01.18.2013
06:00 pm

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Music

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The Cult
She Sells Sanctuary


 
I had just gotten signed to RCA records and was looking for someone to produce my band’s debut album. Bruce Harris, A&R at the label, called me into his office and said “Marc you got to hear this. The guy who produced it, Steve Brown, should produce your record.” Bruce puts “She Sells Sanctuary” on his stereo system, turns it to 11, and The Cult proceed to blow my fucking mind. My reaction was immediate. “Yes, I want Brown working on the album. Absolutely!”

Two nights later, Steve Brown and I go to see The Cult’s U.S. debut at the Ritz. It was a staggering show and I predicted The Cult were going to be huge. It didn’t happen. The world passed on The Cult and Brown passed on my band.

Last year I had a talk with Ian. He seemed quite healthy, though a bit wartorn. There was a time I actually thought he’d end up dead. But that was long ago.

While The Cult never really lived up to their promise, they did manage to record what may the best song of the 1980s. Here’s a nice quality YouTube upload of that song.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Dreamtime: The Cult live at the Lyceum, 1984

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment