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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

5. The Cult: Love

The Cult began in England in the early 80's as The Southern Death Cult;
a post-punk, goth rock  band with a heavy Native American influence. They then dropped the "Southern", and by 1984 had toned down the gothic connotations of their name by calling themselves, simply, The Cult.

Prior to 1984, The Cult relied upon their goth rock influences (such as Bauhaus and Theatre of Hate) for their sounds. They altered that sound for a very cool album called Dreamtime, and then, in 1985, released the album Love.

Love is the first of many albums from 1985-1986 you'll read about on this blog. Maybe the music was better, maybe not, but my ears were opened for the first time during this period. In 1985 my brother, Jeff, opened a Staten Island nightclub called The Ferry Club, and DJ Mark the Spark played amazing sets of music that blew crowds away. As an eager, yet musically naive was "Nirvana".

Songs from Love were played in clubs alongside the synth sounds of the day, yet the Love songs swirled with a 60's psychedelia. There were no keyboards of any kind...and how often did you hear guitar solos in nightclubs? No songs epitomize this time in The Cult's history like "Rain" and "She Sells Sanctuary". There was a sense of pseudo-mysticism about the band...similar to The Doors (in fact, Cult frontman, Ian Astbury, was reportedly offered the role of Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie The Doors, but turned it down). It really set them apart from bands like The Cure, Depeche Mode, Secession, and Heaven 17. It didn't make them better, just made them stand out. Unfortunately, their sound didn't stand out enough to Americans.

It was the desire to make it big in America that forced the transition into the final career change...hard rock. Over the years, Love has sold well (over two and a half million copies), but, at the time, America wasn't catching on. The Cult felt a change to a harder sound was due. They toured with bands like Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, and Metallica and produced some more good albums including 1987's Electric and 1989's Sonic Temple (both of which America loved)...but that was it for the sounds of Love.

Sidenote: In May, 1987, The Cult should have been the opening act for Billy Idol at Madison Square Garden, but that show was canceled thanks to an asbestos problem. Billy Idol then went and played The Limelight, while The Cult played an impromptu show at the Ritz. I went with some high school friends and it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. It was their Electric tour, but the set had its share of Love songs as well.

I used to say, "Wanna know how good an album is? Try finding it in a used record store." Well, reissues and remastering have made that test obsolete, but there was a time when you couldn't find a previously owned copy of The Cult's Love...because it was an absolute keeper.  Here's "She Sells Sanctuary" to help you enjoy your day.


  1. My husband is a huge Cult fan and I've become one too. We saw them perform the Love album, in its entirety, at Terminal 5 in NYC a couple of years ago. We also saw Ian Astbury front The Doors of the 21st Century with Ray Manzarek and Robby Kreiger at Roseland a while back. We've seen the Cult at several smaller venues in the area. They're a great live band.

  2. Knew this was coming. It's a no brainer! Top 10!

  3. I'm just using the numbers to help me keep track...not as a rank. They're just posted randomly. Thanks for commenting. If they WERE ranked...I think I'd agree with you.