REVIEW: The Cult – Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995


For today’s installment of THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER, Aaron and I are actually reviewing different albums.  Sort of.  He’s doing Pure Cult: For Rockers, Ravers, Lovers, and Sinners.  I’m doing Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995.  Same album, different versions thereof with slightly different tracklistings.  Dig in!

Aaron: The Cult – Pure Cult: For Rockers, Ravers, Lovers, and Sinners

PURE CULTTHE CULT – Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995 (2000 Beggars Banquet)

The original 1993 Pure Cult was great.  It didn’t need to be updated only seven years later, but given the chance to remaster and repackage something must be irresistible to cigar-chewing execs.*  The remastering ushered in a series of Cult reissues, coinciding with a reunion tour.  There was also an issue with an unauthorized UK compilation from 1996 called High Octane Cult.  That CD, which contained an exclusive new song called “In the Clouds”, was discontinued and replaced by this new Pure Cult, which re-released “In the Clouds” on its tracklist.

“In the Clouds” is a smashing song, heavy as a really heavy thing, from 1995.  It was recorded for a potential followup to 1994’s The Cult, but released on High Octane Cult when the band split up.  The sound points towards the heavy metal direction of 2001’s Beyond Good and Evil.  The hard hitting snare of drummer Garret is deliciously snappy.   Although “In the Clouds” isn’t particularly memorable on its own, I love when the Cult go really heavy.   That makes this an unsung classic.

As for Pure Cult: The Singles, “She Sells Sanctuary” still opens affairs as it did on the old Pure Cult.  It remains as shimmery as it was in the glow of the 1980’s.  Ian’s irresistible howl doesn’t remind me of Morrison one bit actually, but let’s not forget Billy Duffy and his big white Gibson.  Duffy has always been about his guitar sound, which changes from album to album.  It seems his guitar sets the tone for the album, and “She Sells Sanctuary” benefits from his echo-laden Edge-isms.

The first six songs on the CD are the same running order as the original.  I have always been fond of the Cult’s Sonic Temple period, and “Fire Woman” has aged remarkably well.  Say what you will about Bob Rock, his production has stood up on this track.  Back then, he was trashed for glossing up the Cult’s sound too much.  By today’s standards, this is a sparse production!  But if you like it basic, “Lil’ Devil” produced by Rick Rubin is excactly what you need.  The Electric period is universally celebrated by Cult diehards as a high point, and you can see why on “Lil’ Devil”.

I dig Dreamtime‘s “Spiritwalker”, but I think “The Witch” is really cool.  Produced once again by Rick Rubin but going in a completely different direction, “The Witch” brought electronic dance beats to the Cult giving them an industrial edge.  “The Witch” was released on the soundtrack to a movie called Cool World in 1992, but it received wider exposure the following year on the original Pure Cult.  Regardless of a strong chart performance for the song, the Cult chose not to go with Rick Rubin for their next album and instead returned to Bob Rock!  “The Witch” remains a cool experiment and a great song.

Love‘s “Revolution” is still one of my favourite Cult ballads, and it helps you come down from the rush that is “The Witch”.  The “Love Removal Machine” and “Rain” keep the classic momentum brewing, but this is the first deviation from the original Pure Cult running order.  “Wild Hearted Son”, a hard rocker from 1991, has been moved to the end of the album, though it originally fell after “Revolution”.  Then “In the Clouds” takes us fully into heavy modern Cult territory.  1994’s “Coming Down (Drug Tongue)” represents the alterna-Cult that responded to the grunge onslaught.  These two newer songs don’t replace any others at this point on Pure Cult; rather they are inserted between “Rain” and “Edie (Ciao Baby)”.  Ceremony‘s “Heart of Soul” follows “Edie” for over eight minutes of power balladry, but since it’s The Cult we are going to let it slide.

The song “Love” has been deleted from the running order, and we go straight into the classic “Wild Flower”.  Every bit as good as “Love Removal Machine”, these hits are still slamming today.  “Star” from 1994 is unnecessarily inserted into the track list here, a forgotten single that nobody really cares about.  “Go West” and “Resurrection Joe” from Dreamtime are flipped in order; now “Resurrection Joe” comes first.  I like the jittery early Cult, but it’s stunning how they change from album to album.  “Sun King” is an interesting choice from Sonic Temple, though I do love the song, it wasn’t that well known as a single.  “Wild Hearted Son” is dropped in here, in single edit version without the intro.  Finally “Sweet Soul Sister” closes the CD, in its music video mix which is a nice track to have since it wasn’t even on the CD single.  Unfortunately the original ass-kicking closer “Earth Mofo” has been deleted!  That is truly a shame, since it is such a rush of a rock song.

Ultimately Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995 has one more track overall compared to the original release.  Unfortunately I don’t think it’s quite as good.

4.5/5 stars

* This CD was followed by the release of the 7-disc box set Rare Cult (a review of which is coming this year), and a compilation called Best of Rare Cult!

Monday: QUIET RIOT – Metal Health
Tuesday: DANKO JONES – Born A Lion
Wednesday: Aaron’s Black Crowes B-sides


  1. Yep!

    So far as a hits record goes this (the original even, loved the booklet even more than the remaster) remains one of the best hits records period. When gathered together it’s clear why The Cult were so good, their music has aged better than many, these songs still sound spot on today in fact agree with Mike, The Witch probably one of their strongest ‘outta the box’ moments thus far.

    Looking back too, In The Clouds could almost be heard as the blueprint for Rise (from The Cult’s vastly overlooked Beyond Good & Evil (one of this fans favorite comeback records of the genre too) see here for Mike’s review; Being the fan I was, actually re-purchased this one purely for the remastering and bonus packaging, so when In The Clouds came on the stereo, ‘whoah’ I thought while shaking my ass (always poorly) to some new Cult – happy times \m/

    But hits albums are just that, so PLEASE give us an in-depth full on review for the magnificent Sonic Temple, and sooner than later, would be much appreciated thanks ;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sonic Temple eh Wardy? An album that I have known and loved for 20+ years! Sure, I’ll consider that a request. Don’t forget I also have the 3 CD Sonic Temple Collection of singles, proving the Cult care as much about their singles as albums!


  2. Great stuff as usual Mikey! This album for a Greatest Hits is in my book one of the few that looks awesome. The crazy thing is I never ever bought it! Ha. I choose instead to buy those goofy Kiss comps over an over! Man,Gene and Paul had me drinking there Kiss Kool Aid for many a year!
    Great review……and great idea teaming up with Aaron on this collaboration week !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah this is an essential gr hits! Sorry that Gene and Paul suckered you for your cash too many times man.

      Next time we do a collaboration week, we’ll have to get you (and anyone else who wants to) involved. Aaron and I kinda conspired on this one in secret for the element of surprise. Which I liked a lot! But more is good too. We could avalanche the internet with reviews!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agreed, this has been So Much Fun! But yeah, if we could coordinate a bunch of people on the same records for the same days, even once a week or something like Collaboration Fridays or whatever, we could share thoughts on records in review instead of basically just typing it all into the comments sections! FTW!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ve received an email from one of my occasional “guest writers” who is starting his own music and audio gear blog. He has asked to participate! It would be cool to see how many people participate in a single collaboration day.


  3. I really appreciate this review. It’s informative about something I just sort of instinctively avoided in my quest for the other one, the one I was used to hearing… But it’s still got to know about these other versions and tracklist, it’s a cool resource for all the internets to share. Awesome!

    You know, probably, given enough time I could get to like this one too. It still has most of the songs I love. And if I’d heard this one first, I wonder what I’d think of the old one, after the fact! There’s a thought experiment for today… Agreed on Earth Mofo, though, damn that’s gotta close it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a single here, I think it is actually an EP called the White EP…with a live version of Earth Mofo from a radio session., Holy shitballs batman. I think in the original CD liner notes, somebody claims that playing Earth Mofo knocked a picture off their wall. I remember reading it somewhere!


    1. Thanks buddy! While both CDs rate highly, if you run across a used copy of the one Aaron reviewed, snag it. Somebody mentioned it has better liner notes. This is true.


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