Monday, January 23, 2012

The Cult - Electric

The Cult - Electric
Release - 1987

Story by Shawn Christian Zappo, singer of Changes.

At the time of hearing Electric, I was a clean slate (so to speak) in regards to The Cult.  I would soon go on to know of their twisting history and sound prior to this album and see the full explosion of this English-based rock band first hand on the United States with the release of their biggest album, Sonic Temple, in 1989.

There was a skate demo sometime in 1988 at the then-local skate shop where I grew up in New Jersey called Impact Zone.  The reason I mention this is they literally played this record over and over and over all day. So not only do I have this memory of these local “older” guys killing a vert ramp all day, but my friends and I had sessioned the parking lot the entire day. This record happened to be the soundtrack for a great day.  At this point, I was primarily listening to punk, hardcore music, rap and stuff like The Cure. Rock wasn’t very cool to me at that time to be honest, but The Cult seemed to capture all of what was cool about rock 'n’ roll and avoided much of what seemed corny to me with many of rock bands in the '80s. Soon after that skate demo, I picked up a copy of Electric and I must have listened to that shit for two months straight.

Electric not only had the fucking balls of '70s bands like AC/DC or early Led Zeppelin with its big straight-forward drum beats or its blues inspired riffage, but vocalist Ian Astbury also seemed to infuse a summer-of-love vibe using obvious yet poetic lyrical sexual reference while exhibiting a vocal energy and style not unlike Jim Morrison.  There was yet another element to the band stemming from their early days with punk and its various offspring: a stylistic visual and musical aesthetic that connected with my love for many of the British bands of the late '70s, early '80s that may be considered post punk, goth rock and the like. With Electric, The Cult moved closer to that Led Zeppelin and AC/DC feel with the production work of Rick Rubin, giving them a more powerful feel then the previous album LOVE had exhibited.

Listening to this record now, I appreciate it more than ever although possibly not as purely as when I first heard it. This is easily one of the best rock albums of the 1980s. I put it on the level of Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction, which would come later, but certainly have another level of mainstream success then even The Cult had achieved following Electric with Sonic Temple. There is not one piece of what I would consider filler on the entire record.  Every song is a banger, even with a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” that not only matches but arguably may exceed the greatness of the original.  I still can find myself playing this record over and over and over some days.

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