Posts Tagged ‘The Cult’

The Cult

When I was younger I wanted to find a band that rocked as hard as AC/DC but that didn’t view women as subhuman breeding stock. A band that was as heavy as Led Zeppelin minus all the mystical claptrap. I don’t know if this band has ever existed (I’m open to your recommendations), but I do know that there are albums that qualify. One is Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991). Another is my subject this evening.

Southern Death Cult was formed in 1981 by four boys from Yorkshire. By 2012, when they released their 40,000th comeback record, Choice of Weapon, 23 boys had worn the uniform. The only constants were Ian Astbury (vocals) and Billy Duffy (guitar). Ian and Billy were goths with a taste for metal and a fixation on North American Indians. Sure, why not.

Southern Death Cult gradually phased out the goth and the Indians and the Southern and the Death. (Why would you mess with a name as venomous as Southern Death Cult?) For their third album, they corralled a new producer, Rick Rubin, a man who eats transformation for breakfast, and with his help they broke the chains of gravity with their magnum opus, Electric.

What we have here are songs that embody the one thing we love about AC/DC – mindless butt-shaking – with the one thing we love about Led Zep – guitar solos that pull 4 or 5 G’s. There’s no moody-teenager philosophizing, no misogyny, no Middle Earth, and no intelligence. This album rocks like 12 Republican governors running for president inside a cement mixer.

Tracks 4 through 8, the heart of the order, hit harder than a brass knuckle barn dance. “Bad Fun” has so many layers, it’s as if somebody cloned every dork in Yes and suctioned them into a Yugo. The guitar solos – all of the guitar solos – are awesome because they all sound like metal guitar solo gibberish. Were The Cult subversive or satirical? There’s no way to tell. I don’t care. I love this shit.

An homage to “I Am the Walrus” or plain old drug abuse?
And yet Electric is also one of the funniest albums ever recorded. The lyrics have been brilliantly deconstructed and rebuilt, often with no translatable meaning, as in this unrhymed couplet from “Aphrodisiac Jacket” (a song that sounds like Cream has a brain tumor):

Sittin’ on a mountain looking at the sun
Plastic fantastic lobster telephone

In “Bad Fun,” a song that mixes atomic bombs, “fancy clothes,” and “ghetto stars” without telling you why, the boys break into a chorus about a woman alone with her personal assistant:

Spirit like a rumblin’ train
Spirit of the thunderin’ rain
Vibrations got you on the run
Electric child on bad fun

You can’t not laugh when Ian rolls his r’s or when they swing into their insightful commentary on intimate relationships, “Love Removal Machine,” a song my wife claims she has never heard and yet her life runs along just fine. You can’t not laugh when Billy lights this candle with another solo he checked out from the library, or when the band chants PEACE. DOG. PEACE. DOG. PEACE. DOG. on a song that’s called – let me see, what was it? I knew it a moment ago – yes, I have it: “Peace Dog.”

The only poor choice on this disc was covering “Born to Be Wild” at two-thirds the speed of Steppenwolf. If you’re headin’ down the highway and people on the sidewalk are passing you than you’re not born to be wild or even mischievous.

On The Cult’s previous release, Love (1985), you can hear the transition to a harder rock sound, but it was not until Electric that these ex-goths achieved nirvana. Oh right, “Nirvana” is a song on Love. “When the music is loud, we all get down,” Ian sings. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Postscript courtesy of the concert listings at
AC/DC, Tuesday, Feb. 2, Tacoma Dome
“The band isn’t playing Portland tonight – apparently we’re not good enough – but it’s probably worth the drive to Tacoma. Because, you know, they might die soon.”


My people! The cash has been rolling in since I launched this blog on November 4, 2010. PolitiFact rates this assertion as Pants on Fire. I haven’t made a penny, but I have listened to Johnny Cash at San Quentin (what a record) and anyway blogging is fun and a relief from the cruel indifference of a world that has yet to form a cult around me. (I’ve also listened to Love by The Cult. Imagine if AC/DC got religion, but not one that anyone would recognize.)

I indexed the first year of Run-DMSteve in November of 2011. You can find it over there on the left in the Blogroll. (The Rolling Stones, Now! – A look back at the band as they moved from covering their American blues idols to writing their own songs. They’re barely a year away from incandescence.) The end of 2012 was kind of busy and I didn’t index the second year until January 2013. With that precedent in mind, I present the official authorized index to the third year!

Thanks as always for being there, reading this stuff or pretending to read this stuff and making appropriate or inappropriate comments. I couldn’t do it without you, Special D, WordPress, and the weekend of classes I took at the International House of Critics. (J. Geils Band, Full House vs. House of Pain, House of Pain. J. Geils wins!)


Bikini Machine

Kid Rock

Ray Parker, Jr.

The Pretenders

Paul Simon

Siouxsie & The Banshees

Talking Heads

2013 Clarion West Write-a-thon
Introducing the whole thing

It’s all about to happen

The Write-a-thon finally starts (Day 1)

The Write-a-thon finally ends, thank God (Day 41)

The summing up

Teddy Ballgame

“Let Me Count the Ways” Week
I start reviewing every band with a number in its name

I run out of every band with a number in its name (or so I thought)

A tale of two miracles

Baby Boomers Social Club

Ask Run-DMSteve asks Run-DMSteve

Round-up of albums released at Christmas 2013 but are not about Christmas in 2013 or any other year

Good Dog Happy Man

Random Pick of the Day
Bill Frisell, Good Dog, Happy Man (1999)
A guitar album of considerable skill, yet somehow with little to stick to your memory or disturb your concentration. For example, the title track – it’s pretty, and it floats away while you’re listening to it. I think that would make Good Dog, Happy Man a good listen when you’re out for a spin. Totally excellent cover art.