Picture a scruffy skinny long-haired student walking home from university – big white Hi-Tec baseball boots, religion-revealing ripped jeans and a grubby band T-shirt, you know the sort. This chap had to pass no fewer than three second-hand record shops on his way home from the library to have a bit of a midday sleep, it wasn’t an easy life for him. Our hero passes the first two disc emporiums without breaking stride, knowing he has just enough cash in the pocket of his patched denim jacket to buy a sandwich from the bakery*, fair enough. Just before the bakery on Headingley Lane in Leeds, next to the dusty and permanently empty barber’s shop, were a darkly enticing set of steps leading down into a subterranean record bazaar, possibly established by Satan as a snare to entrap the mortal soul of weak-minded sinners like him, or equally possibly by a nice man called Geoff^. Our hero slackens his pace, caught between duty and depravity for a brief second we know he will ultimately do the right thing.
Thirty minutes later he strides back up into the sunlight clutching the 12″ of Cult Wildflower. Food’s for wimps anyway.
I’ve no idea how the Special Limited Edition Australian Tour EP 12″ Cult Wildflower made it into that shop in Leeds whose name I can’t remember, I’d like to think it had some dramatic back story involving star-crossed lovers, a car chase, betrayal, bad drugs, a drag queen knife fight and windsurfing, but I suspect someone probably just bought it on import in HMV. Anyway, two remixes of great Cult tracks – one of which was an ‘extended rock mix’ no less and three live tracks, has to be good right?
Second track first, an 8-minute beast: ‘She Sells Sanctuary (Howling Mix)’. takes one of my favourite ever rock singles and de-rockizes it good style. It begins with a few oddly synthesized wolf howls** and then adds a ‘rock’ beat that sounds suspiciously like one of the pre-set ones found on cheap keyboards of a certain vintage, usually next to bossa nova. It’s all a bit shit and then after a certain point the keyboard trills die down a bit and they start phasing in Billy Duffy’s incredible guitar noise and it all starts to make sense. I mean it’s as ‘authentic’ and ‘rock’ as Paula Abdul, but that’s okay. After 8 minutes I’ve submitted entirely. Interestingly nobody seems to want to take credit for the remixing here, there are literally no credits for this version.
Whereas Rick Rubin, George Drakoulias, Andy wallace, Ron St. Germain AND François Kevorkian^^ are all jostling to take credit for ‘Wildflower (Extended Rock Mix)’, which is slightly puzzling to me given that it’s a big shiny heap of bollocks. I really like the basic track and most of it is here, albeit occasionally obscured by extraneous phased drums and surplus-to-requirement strums. Sorry but it really is an exercise in gilding the lily^*.
The live tracks are … okay, I’m never much of a fan of live B-sides to be honest. ‘Love Trooper’ sounds live in the studio, ‘Horse Nation’ is full on raggedy and raucous and I thoroughly enjoyed the bits of Zeppelin’s ‘Bring It On Home’ they drop into an otherwise loud, but undistinguished ‘Outlaw’.
I’m glad I own Wildflower and not just for the yonic symbol on the front cover. It is definitely worth the price of a sandwich.
This video captures the extreme excitement of the extended rock mix:
*fool hasn’t realised that actually getting his shit together enough to buy bread and stuff to make his own sandwiches every day would save him enough cash to buy even more LPs.
**reminding us that Mr Astbury wasn’t in fact a slightly comical man from Bradford, but a wolf child howling at the moon, free, wild and sexy; or something a bit like that.
^an inordinate amount of record shops are run/staffed by men called Geoff. There should be some sort of enquiry.
^^Not sure why this track needed an assisted death, but there you go.
^*with golden poop.