Livin’ in a shack in a one-horse town
Trying to get to heaven ‘fore the sun goin’ down
Not wishing to be one of those crude blogger chaps that the internet is full of these days, but I have just had an eargasm. I haven’t sat down and listened to the Cult Electric for what feels like hundreds of years, although it was a big fave of mine when it came out – I’ve just made do with isolated tracks for ages. I do remember a few folk of my acquaintance were really quite disappointed that the band were abandoning the smooth goth rock of Love for a BIG ROCK SOUND, much as I, umm, love Love I wasn’t sorry at all right from the first time I heard the advance single of ‘Love Removal Machine’.
I was a fully formed rocker by 1987, I just didn’t have very much music yet*, so all the controversy over the fact that Electric was a wholesale appropriation of hard rock’s greatest hits was all a bit lost on me. Even though the opener ‘Wild Flower’ basically stole the riff from my third favourite AC/DC song ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer’ to a frightening extent, a crime so obvious that I missed it – a bit like two guys walking into your house and stealing your sofa whilst you were sitting on it, you’d be so flabbergasted by the cheek of the act that you’d forget to stop them. You know what though? it doesn’t detract from its brilliance one iota, not even a demi-semi iota. ‘Wild Flower’ being chiefly notable for a) Kickin’ ass** b) being Ian Astbury’s first recorded declaration that he isn’t a slightly comical man from Bradford, but a ‘wolf child, baby’.
The other thing to point out that is that under Rick Rubin’s tutelage The Cult were a completely irony free zone. When Astbury sang ‘I’m a wolf child, baby / I’m howlin’ for you’, this wasn’t a knowing tip of the hat to past hyperbolic statements of rock masculinity – he really meant it. In that moment he truly believes that he is a feral love beast, sleek of coat and sharp of fang, lookin’ to do some matin’. He suckled a wolf’s teats^.
Possibly tied into this no distance straight-forward approach is the fact that what really impresses me about Electric today is the fact that the performance on this album is just incredible – the band just hurl themselves at the material as though their very lives depended upon it. Talk about every light in the house burning – all the meters in the red. Wow. For me, almost more than the few classic tracks here, is what makes this such a special LP, the momentum gained is what carries some of the less brilliant songs here. You simply can’t argue with Billy Duffy’s guitar set to ‘slay’, or Astbury howling his million gratuitous ‘Baby’s’ at you.
Okay so ‘Wild Flower’, Lil Devil’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’ get a lot of rock rotation in this house, but it was fun having a proper listen again to a few long-forgotten friends. The choppy ‘Electric Ocean’ with its daft (even by Cult standards) lyrics, note to band an actual, real electric ocean would be a really bad thing to be anywhere near – it’s up there with the walk-in toaster as a concept; it’s a physics thing. Nobody needed a cover of ‘Born To Be Wild’ but that didn’t stop the Cult giving it to us, hard. It lacks all the nuances of the original of course, but it’s wonderfully over the top and, as always, I assumed it was an original of theirs for years, plus that sheet-lightning guitar squall at the end lives up to the LP’s name, perfectly.
Rubin needs additional props for what a great sounding album Electric is, everything recorded just so. I hadn’t noticed that Andy Wallace was on board for this one too, or that none other than Storm Thorgeson was the art director. Also some credit needs to be wafted towards the rhythm section of Jamie Stewart and Les Warner, I really like Warner’s drumming style when he hits ’em they stay hit.
I loved this album at the time and it really stormed my defences again tonight, much more so than I thought it would. That makes me a happy little blogger, or maybe just a wolf child bloggin’ at the moon, baby.
But enough of me, I believe it was Friedrich Nietzsche who once said,
Sittin’ on a mountain, looking at the sun
Plastic fantastic lobster telephone
Drive on baby, through the electric night
All the way sister, in the taxi of life.
The rest is silence.
PS: Two cuttings that amused me enough to make it into THE MIGHTY SCRAP BOOKS OF ROCK. (TTT was the funny page in the NME):
*If I’d had a blog then I’d have had to have called it 7. Oh and drawn it out on paper and stuff, just like in the renaissance and shit.
**We’re in rock world now, adjectives aren’t allowed to have a ‘g’ on the end of them – the gods don’t like it. Bitchin’.
^Dear Mr Astbury’s legal team, hello again, this is one of those extended metaphor thingys not an allegation of bestiality. Although that hasn’t stopped me taggin’ this post ‘wolf teats’.