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!
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.
More of THE CULT at mikeladano.com: