Retro Review: The Cult – Electric
By Walter Price
For a couple years starting in 1987 it would have been a very rare event if I didn’t have a cassette copy of The Cult’s third album Electric in my car or a friend’s mother’s ride for party inducing greatness. Although the criticisms from old school rockophiles had the same complaints back then that many a metal connoisseur still have today. I loved, loved the album. I didn’t and don’t have a care that there are obvious rock hero sounds ‘plagiarisms’. Allegedly.
Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy’s decision to ditch Love producer Steve Brown for a white New York hip-hop producer/ college student would not only change The Cult’s future but Rick Rubin’s as well. They, as well as Rubin, wanted to move away from the post-punk/new wave sounds that made them famous-ish and wanted to melt some faces. Old bluesy rock style. Some say this is were the ‘trouble’ started.
Electric has had the band accused of Led Zeppelin, Blue Cheer, Cream, AC/DC and, yes, Shazam, everyone is right. Rubin wanted the boys to take the raw elements of the greats and transform the band into a rock powerhouse.
So much of punk, hip-hop and the Eighties New York underground dance scene rejected the whole rock-star thing. When we came back around to Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Black Sabbath, it was a revelation. – Rick Rubin (Rolling Stone)
For all that people found irritating with The Cult in the late 80’s, they now praise the hordes of throwback bands of today. Rival Sons, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Temperance Movement…throw a stone and you’ll hit a band that The Cult (and Rick Rubin) paved the way for.
All and all people have their opinions, if there was such a thing as reviewing the experiences one has with an album over the years The Cult’s Electric would get a resounding A+ from myself and perhaps the early naysayers.
Here is a look at what Robert Christgau said of the album in 1987 for The Village Voice:
Consumer Guide (1987)
The Cult Electric (Sire)
Rick Rubin meets the doom fops of the former Southern Death Cult and concocts the metal dreams are made of–Zep for our time, supposedly. One reason it’s a great joke is that in 2087 almost nobody will be able to tell it from the real thing. The other reason it’s a great joke is that right now almost anybody can. Direct comparison reveals that Jimmy Page’s thunderclap riffs, Robert Plant’s banshee yowls, and John Bonham’s ka-boom ka-boom are just as hard to replicate as you thought they were. I hear Steppenwolf (an unconvincing “Born to Be Wild”), Cream (“Tales of Brave Ulysses” as “Aphrodisiac Jacket”), and Aerosmith–fop but no fool, Ian Astbury apes Steve Tyler rather than the unapproachable Plant. I also hear lots of Zep simplified–no sagas, no tempo shifts, no blues. Inspirational Verse: “Zany antics of a beat generation/ In their wild search for kicks.” B+
Don’t think The Cult’s 1989 follow-up fared any better in Christgau’s mind.
Consumer Guide (1989)
Sonic Temple (Sire)
Having risen from cultdom as a joke metal band metal fans were too dumb to get, they transmute into a dumb metal band. Dumb was the easy part. Ha ha. B-