By: Jay Broderick
The Cult are a UK rock band that was formed in 1983 out of Bradford, West Yorkshire, however upon their inception, they went by the name Death Cult. Death Cult was an iteration of founding member and vocalist Ian Astbury's first band Southern Death Cult. Personally, I love the original name, and actually kind of prefer Death Cult to just The Cult. But what do I know?? The band would gain some serious notoriety under the name The Cult.
After 1984's debut album Dreamtime, The Cult gained commercial breakthrough with their second release Love. With their post-punk sound and gothic personas, it was the band's second album that originally turned my ears. As freshmen, my friend Alan and I performed "She Sells Sanctuary" and "Rain" from that release during our grade 9 high school's lip-sync contest (which turned out to actually not be a "contest" at all, but just a show). It was right around this time that my musical interest started to change and I was listening to heavier music. So on April 6, 1987, when The Cult released their 3rd album Electric, I was beyond ecstatic to hear that their sound had changed, leaning much more on the hard rock side.
It's now been 36 years since I first heard it. How does it stand up today? Let's check it out!
With its claw-like font on the album's cover, I remember being super stoked as I gently removed the plastic from the brand new record to reveal a gatefold cover. I'm not certain I would have ever categorized myself as an "audiophile" but I definitely had a love for vinyl records, and still do to this day. Part of the whole experience is reading the liner notes, and following along with the lyrics. There was nothing quite as disappointing as sliding out the disc, only to find the inner sleeve was made of plain white paper. But in this case, sweet, sweet liner notes.
As I pulled the black gold from its protective inner sleeve, I placed it on the turntable, and dropped the needle. The album instantly greets me with an electric guitar riff as the leadoff track "Wildflower" cuts in. At the 8 second mark, a simple, but pounding drum beat kicks in and the almost sultry voice of Ian Astbury joins the fray at around 15 seconds. When the chorus kicks in, we're in high gear, and get that classic "YOW" from the singer. While nothing overly complex, this is a much heavier sound for the band, and the guitar solo just after the 2 minute mark is clear indication that band is taking a different road. "Wildflower" would be the 3rd single released from Electric.
Once the second track "Peace Dog" kicks in, I get a bit of a feeling of classic rock from some of the "heavier" bands of that era like Foghat, Thin Lizzy and Steppenwolf. Guitarist Billy Duffy continues his crunchy guitar riffs on this track, and the band joins Astbury with some backing vocals.
The album's 2nd single release and 3rd song on the album is "Lil' Devil". It's a toe tapping, head bobbing 2 minute and 50 second thrill ride, complete with guitar solos, screams, grooving drum beats and cool bass line. This song's got everything that makes for a great listen.
Side 1 continues with the tongue tying "Aphrodisiac Jacket", which brings the beat down a tad, and has the absolute best line on the album "Plastic fantastic... Lobster telephone!". "Electric Ocean" is another quick, groove laden track, and "Bad Fun", with it's high tempo, rock and roll swing feel closes out a wicked first side. After 36 years, I'm quickly reminded how cool this new sound was (is) for the English band.
Side 2 starts of with another thick tongued title "King Contrary Man". It's The Cult's rendition of the classic musical tale of the crossroads where you meet the Devil. Will you choose to sell your soul?
"Love Removal Machine" was the first single released a month and a half ahead of the album's release. It's easily one of the most recognizable songs in The Cult's catalogue and again, has that rockin' groove that makes you wanna dance. Once again, the guitar solo is immediately recognizable. With 50 seconds left, the song breaks into a raucous tempo as things speed up. They've really left nothing on the table here as you get hit harder than any track thus far.
The 3rd track on side 2 is a cover of the aforementioned Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild". It's a good rendition for what it is, and if nothing else, keeps with the hard rock vibe the band and Producer Rick Rubin have brought to the table.
The band closes out Electric with "Outlaw" and "Memphis Hip Shake", which is certainly a hip shaker, albeit probably my least favourite track on this 3rd release from The Cult.
This album's title could not have been anymore fitting. While it's not the most complex musically, it's a hard edged, straight up, hard rocking record. For me, rock and roll is better, when it's bare boned and raw. This one definitely fits the bill in this regard. Rick Rubin took the band in a completely different direction and with the band, they hit one out of the park.
Give a listen again... for old time's sake!
Release Date: April 6, 1987