REVIEW: The Cult – Live Cult (Marquee London MCMXCI)

 

THE CULT – Live Cult (Marquee London MCMXCI) (Reissue)

This double live album was once the “Holy Grail” of Cult collectibles.  It was originally a limited release involving a confusion of two separate discs, mail orders and bonus CDs in some versions of Pure Cult.  Whatever, it’s been reissued (both CDs, the complete set) at retail…and now everybody can hear why The Cult went on hiatus at the beginning of the 90’s.  It’s just not that good.

Like almost all live albums, this one has its pros and its cons. To me, the biggest con is that The Cult had dug themselves into this vaccuous, stiff, homogenic, generic rock/metal sound. For example, the cuts from Electic, in particular “Wild Flower”, are robbed of all their energy and groove. The rhythm section was new, but did consist of the late, great Michael Lee (later of Page & Plant). But these were not the same guys who recorded Love, or Electric, in fact they had never played on a Cult album. Perhaps that is why these songs don’t sound like The Cult that we know, but some early 90’s rock metal hybrid version of The Cult.

Another con is that Astbury was pretty hoarse that night. However in a sense that is also a pro — the liner notes proudly state that there are no overdubs or edits, that this is “as it was” on that night. And I will take a genuine live album with a hoarse singer over any overdubbed live album, every single time. In fact one entire track (“Amplification Breakdown”) is dedicated to the space between two songs while Duffy gets an amp fixed!

LIVE CULT_0003

The track selection was adventurous, with lots of songs from Dreamtime and Love. “Brother Wolf, Sister Moon” is played live for the first time ever, according to Ian. They threw in a B-side (“Zap City”) and only a couple songs from their then-latest record Ceremony: They studiously avoided the too-mellow singles, and opted for lesser known rocking album tracks.

While this album was important as a document of a pre-hiatus Cult, before they reinvented themselves in 1994, it is a shame that the band was sounding so generically “rock” at the time, and little like the classic Cult. Perhaps that is why Ian and Billy felt like they had to reinvent themselves.

3/5 stars

More of THE CULT at mikeladano.com:

Weapon of Choice (iTunes exclusive release) + Capsule 1 + “Lil’ Devil” (double 12″ EP)

19 comments

      1. Good to know – it’s interesting how those ‘holy grail’ recordings rarely meet audience expectations.
        Then again, we listeners are probably partly to blame, as I have difficulty managing expectations when I finally hear a long lost recording!

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        1. I am morbidly curious what will happen next year when Jimmy Page finally releases all the unreleased Zeppelin recordings. Fans have been waiting 4 decades to hear some of this stuff. Yet how could one ever expect outtakes to be as good as albums? I fear a potential mass disappointment caused by expecting too much.

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        2. I didn’t realize such recordings existed – those expectations will be tough to manage.

          I know you’re not a big Nirvana fan (but perhaps Mrs. LeBrain will agree!) but one of the instances I can think of that worked was when Nirvana’s “You Know You’re Right” finally came out almost a decade later, solid tune.

          As we recently discussed Weird Al – I remember he had a bit when he hosted an Al TV special on Much Music. Around the time when all the Beatle rarities were released in the 90s, he played a clip of a “previously unreleased Beatle song” that he called “Ringo shaving” – 10 seconds of electric razor noises followed by a few notes of humming – brilliant!

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        3. I liked You Know You’re Right a lot actually. The one Nirvana album I own is the greatest hits with that song. As for Ringo Shaving? THAT is hilarious.

          The Zeppelin sets are due to arrive starting 2014. Page has personally remastered each one, and most (if not all) will have unreleased bonus tracks. Demos, alternate takes, probably unreleased song ideas as well. Some of the albums will have a bonus CD.

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  1. Well Mike I would give this one a 4.5….reason being yeah it’s totally recorded live and Astburys voice is hoarse buts it’s a good live rock album.
    The fact that the setlist is different is well perhaps Astbury was in one of his ‘I don’t give a shit what people think moments” as the frontman course I’m sure they knew by that time that Cermony was a miss by the commercial public in North America so who knows the reason for the set list( I was hoping for more off of Sonic Temple,but I know Astbury was at the time trying to distance himself from the arena rock) .
    So on the flip side I’m glad they did not play it safe with the setlist cuz it baffled me as well at the time of its release but over time I have come to appreciate it the fact they were just trying to go somewhere different.
    For sure it sounds like a 90s hybrid metal rhythm section. Gone was the loosey goosey feel of the Electric album( to this day I still say that is one of the best mixed recorded drum sounds I have ever heard..case in point …Peace Dog) and gone was simple ness of there music….
    I do agree with you though that they were searching for a different sound esp by the 94 Cult album…real different!

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    1. Deke I didn’t realize you were a Cult guy.

      Electric was definitely a magical album. They collided with Rick Rubin at the exact right time, and that album mattered when it came out. It still matters.

      For me Sonic Temple was the last album for quite a while that I liked…but I don’t play it much anymore. I don’t think it aged that well.

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      1. I’m surprised to hear someone refer to ‘Electric’ as “a magical album”. I would argue it’s the album which destroyed The Cult’s inherent magic.

        Their collision with Rubin stripped the band so bare that they were almost completely dumbed down musically. That’s one hell of a cost for a band to pay for global success.

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        1. Hey Labi, well, “magical” is just a word. If I had to review Love vs. Electric? I’d rate Love higher. But that doesn’t mean I dislike Electric. Thanks for the comment, cheers!

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  2. Yep,remember last yr Weapon Of Choice was in my top 5 of 2012 releases.
    I have bought the Cult since the release of Electric back in 87.
    The story for that goes..I was in Grade 13 at the time and a buddy told me to go buy the new Cult (I at the time never bought Love) But my Bud said no man there new one is like Ac Dc street rock..I was like What???!
    Sure enough bought it and I have bought every Cult release since than…..

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  3. I remember this. There was a guy in university who was collecting all sorts of weirdo Cult releases, and I believe he had it (so I would have heard it at the time). I also remember hard-to-get singles in regular cases where the cover was almost an onion-skin, so thin, and I think there were coloured trays, too. Purple? I dunno.

    Anyway, I think this band would have been better to be SEEN live. I’m not so sure a live recording could properly capture it. Sadly I never did. For me, though, the Pure Cult (original release) got the most spins. I really oughta replace that, one of these days…

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    1. I know that singles set Aaron. The name is escaping but it had all their singles and EPs in one place, and all had matching packaging.

      It’s now legendary, but Guns N’ Roses opened for The Cult in Kitchener in 1987 at Super Skate 7.

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