Since I scored tickets to see The Cult this week, I figured it’s time to re-familiarize myself with this album. The band had two records prior to this one, but it’s this album that got the band in the mainstream media. Leaving behind their alt rock Gothic sound that they started with, they go for a hard rock sound mixed with a hint of blues and the psychedelic. Some of their biggest hits are found here along with other tracks that get you moving and shaking. While it’s not the best album around and it’s not perfect, it’s still a great listen, especially if you want that rock n roll sound.
The title of the album seems to reflect the overall sound. Here, you’ll find nothing but hard edge guitars with spiraling solos alongside Ian Astbury’s awesome vocals. During its release, it was a new sound for the band, who previously dabbled in the Gothic genre. While they have no problem making this hard rock sound, it takes over the album to the point where some of the tracks begin to sound the same. Songs like “Electric Ocean,” “Aphrodisiac Jacket,” “Outlaw” are all good in their own right, but due to similar riffs and structure they don’t stand out. Compared with some of the better tracks here they just don’t stand up that well. But the songs are at least fun and get your head moving. Even though there are a handful of songs that blend together, there are a good amount that stick in your mind.
One of their most popular songs is the rocking “Love Removal Machine.” This has always been one of my favorite Cult songs. The riff is infectious and sexy, especially with the way Astbury yells “Baby, baby, baby/I fell from the sky.” And the way the music picks up the pace towards the end while keeping its sound is enough to get your heart racing. Another great track is “Peace Dog.” What’s interesting about this song is it really reminds me of the Doors’ song “Peace Frog.” Not only does it deal with the same subject matter of war and peace, but the vocals are pretty similar to Jim Morrison. Even the titles are similar. I’m not sure whether or not this was intentional, but it’s still a good song nonetheless.
The closing track “Memphis Hip Shake” is one of the best and most intriguing. Based on the title alone you would expect the music to be fast and wild and while the riff does start out like this, everything eventually slows down and plays sporadically throughout the rest of the song. There are moments during the verse where the music just stops completely catching the listener off guard. “King Contrary Man” tells the story of fighting and giving in to temptation. This is where the band mixes their new found hard rock sound with a hint of rockabilly to make a sleek and slick guitar riff. The music sounds like the epitome of the rock n roll sound.
What I did notice about a lot of these songs is they have nature and animal imagery in them. The theme begins with the opener “Wild Flower” where Ian sings about howlin’ and acting like a hungry wolf for a particularly hot woman. But the natural theme is further explored in the song “Bad Fun.” During the chorus Ian sings “Spirit like a rumblin’ train/Spirit of the thunderin’ rain/Vibrations got you on the run/Electric child on bad fun.” This theme has been found in most of their music since and it does make for great visual images. It’s references like these that give the band an overall psychedelic, hippie feeling. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like The Cult belongs in 60’s or 70’s era rock music.
Overall, the album gets 7.5/10. It’s a really strong album from the band and there are a number of great tracks here, but with similar structure and sound some of the songs begin to sound the same. Here The Cult adopts a hard rock sound rather than the Gothic feel they previously dabbled in, but they make it work for them really well. While it may not be the greatest album around, it’s still worth a listen to hear the evolution of the band.