The first in an ongoing series, where I will be discussing some of the best records ever made. These are the “classics” of my record collection, that no-one should be without.
1. The Cult – “Love”
Released in 1985, The Cult’s album Love still sounds fantastic to this day. It’s a potent cocktail of resurrected blues-rock riffs, screaming psychedelia and murky atmosphere that transcended music of the time. Listening to it now, it seems unbelievable that the record was created in the mid eighties. And yet it has enough power – and melodic charm – to still sound great.
In late 1988 I had become obsessed with Electric, the full-on rock monster that the Cult had released a year earlier. A friend lent me a copy of Love, promising that the songs contained therein were the best the band had recorded.
At this point I had explored some rock, metal and punk. Love was to be a bridge between these genres in many ways. Happily it was (what would become) “alternative” rock – though it worshipped at the altar of Hendrix, The Doors and Led Zeppelin, it was birthed from the fire of punk rock.
Opening track “Nirvana” kicks things off in blazing style. It has a fast pace and contains a euphoric instrumental section. Both “Big Neon Glitter” and the title track “Love” offer up the Big Zep riffs and allow guitarist Billy Duffy to add a psychedelic shimmer. Then “Brother Wolf, Sister Moon” provides a quieter moment. If the earlier tracks were ideal for blasting out the windows of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, this track is more singer Ian Astbury sitting on a pony surveying the prairie. As the song ends, rumbling clouds herald the next track: “Rain”. One of the best songs the Cult have ever recorded, “Rain” has a truly classic riff that is instantly recognisable and never forgotten.
Side Two (!) opens with “Phoenix”. This track, unashamedly adorned with Hendrix inspired acid rock guitar, hints at the heavier sounds to come in later chapters of the bands story. “Hollow Man” provides more driving bass (Jamie Stewart) and a simpler, melodic lead guitar. Astbury has the chance to really shine on ballad “Revolution”, with a calmer moment that harks back to the bands Goth post-punk phase.
Next we have the mother of all Cult songs – “She Sells Sanctuary”. A vaguely Eastern sounding intro leads into a stomping rhythm as the song grabs the listener and drags them along for the sheer hell of it. This song became an instant favourite and still has an impact all these years later. Final track, “Black Angel”, is a sombre Velvet Underground do Spaghetti Western affair that again adds some darkness to the proceedings.
The band received a lot of criticism for having a somewhat “hippie-ish” element to their sound, and look, on this album. There are a few moments where the “peace and love” vibe wear a bit thin (see “Revolution”), however the overall sound of the record retains a dark edge to it – more decadent than naive.
The Cult would go on to fully embrace their heavy rock interests with Electric. But for a kid who had never heard Zeppelin or Hendrix, Love was a monumental discovery. Put it on and listen to it now, this record has a magic that is of it’s time and yet speaks of the past and future.
The Cult – Love
- Big Neon Glitter
- Brother Wolf, Sister Moon
- Hollow Man
- She Sells Sanctuary
- Black Angel
Best tracks: Rain, She Sells Sanctuary, Nirvana, Brother Wolf, Sister Moon
Other cool points: great cover!
Buy this Classic Album here.