Fire Woman

#823: A Cure for The Cult

GETTING MORE TALE #823: A Cure for The Cult

The Cult were big in highschool. “Fire Woman” debuted in the spring of ’89. It was an instant hit. Their momentum continued through the fall with “Edie (Ciao Baby)” and into the following year with “Sweet Soul Sister”. There was no stopping The Cult! With a new unknown drummer named Matt Sorum, The Cult toured the world and cleared up any remaining confusion that this was indeed a rock band.

The only Cult confusion that remained might have been with my friend Danesh.

Ian Astbury

I discovered that we both liked The Cult. I recall his amusement at the lyrics for “New York City” off Sonic Temple.  In particular he thought the aggrandizement “Hell’s Kitchen is a DMZ” was pretty funny.  It might have had something to do with the annual school trip to New York, that we didn’t attend but a friend of ours did.  Their bus was broken into and they had their stuff stolen.  Not particularly funny in and of itself, but I think we were amused because of who it happened to:  The legendary Brett Bowerman of Brett-Lore fame.  Indeed, in our highschool comic strip, the Geography teacher Mr. Robinson went to New York City to find a missing Brett!  This was inspired by us assuming Brett would get lost in New York and left behind.  In our sketches, Ian Astbury himself made a cameo.  This happened in a chapter titled “Brett Lore III:  Brett Takes Manhattan”.  In one panel, we find the Ayatollah Khomeini, a dead cat, and Skid Row (presumably because I didn’t know the difference between New York and New Jersey).  The Cult’s logo was scrawled on a wall, but scratched out.  Hell’s Kitchen is a DMZ after all!

Note that Elvis visited New York in 1989, apparently.  I also like that you can actually identify each Skid Row member by appearance alone.

Adding to the comedy, I recall that Brett purchased a samurai sword in New York.  I don’t remember if it was among the stolen possessions.  I think it probably was.

Back to the Cult.  Danesh was getting into rock music and wasn’t as well educated in the fine art of electric guitar as I was.  I think it’s very possible that he accidentally bought Disintegration by The Cure, confusing them with The Cult.  I do know that Danesh was terribly embarrassed about owning that Cure CD.  Compact discs were a new thing, and he owned up to having The Cure when we were listing some of the CDs that were in our collections.  I asked if he owned any discs that had “bonus tracks”.  The Cure did — two in fact.  That’s when he told me about it.  But he refused to tell me how he got it.  I had the Cure/Cult mixup theory, but he never confirmed nor denied.  To this day, 30 years later, I still don’t know!

Danesh really hated that Cure album.  When my family had a garage sale in 1991, he handed me the Cure CD to get rid of.  The garage sale was his only hope.  I put a sticker on there that said “BONUS TRACKS” and priced it at $12.  That was about half as much as you’d pay new.  But too much for garage salers.  I dropped it to $10 but no go.

Danesh was heartbroken when I returned the disc to him the following Monday.

“I would have been fine with a lower price if you called to tell me it wasn’t selling.”

Well, shit.  Sorry man.

I did feel bad.  I would have preferred selling it for him too.  But he still wouldn’t tell me why he owned it!  Was it a gift?  Did he like one song and then hate the rest?  Did he freak out when he saw what they looked like?  I remember his reaction the first time he saw a photo of Night Songs-era Cinderella.  It wasn’t positive!  The only album he owned was Heartbreak Station.  He didn’t know about Cinderella’s glam past and he wouldn’t let it go!

But these are just guesses.  For whatever reasons, Danesh would never tell me why he owned Disintegration by The Cure, nor would he tell me why he was ashamed of it.

As a final explanation, I’m going to go with the Cure/Cult mixup and consider this case closed.  An understandable mistake like that can be easily forgiven.

 

REVIEW: The Cult – Sonic Temple (1989)

By special request of reader Wardy!

THE CULT – Sonic Temple (1989 Polygram limited edition hologram cover)

The Cult went into 1989’s Sonic Temple with nothing but promise.  New hotshot producer Bob Rock had struck it rich with Kingdom Come the year before.  Critics raved about his drum sound and other Zeppish tendencies on that album.  The Cult themselves were following up the incendiary Electric album, a stripped back record produced by Rick Rubin.  Anticipation ran high.  Considering that Robert Plant was quoted as saying that “Led Zeppelin is being continued by The Mission and The Cult”, I think a few people expected Sonic Temple to be the second coming.

Some fans hoping for another Electric or even another Love were disappointed by the mainstream rock direction of Sonic Temple.  Mainstream though it may be, Sonic Temple burns with the same middle finger up attitude of old Cult, just with the edges sanded off and sound enhanced by Bob Rock.  Rock’s production is similar to that of Dr. Feelgood released the same year.

You couldn’t ask for a better double-whammy than the opening salvo of “Sun King” and “Fire Woman”.  Even though The Cult were able to score a major hit with “Fire Woman” it’s still a tough little song based on a killer Billy Duffy guitar hook.  Both songs have aged well, as has “American Horse”, a slow Cult stomper.  I love the interplay on the verse riff between Duffy and bassist Jamie Stewart.  Stewart, a member since the band became The Cult, departed after this tour and moved to Canada.  Here he produced a few up and coming bands such as Gut-Sonic.  I think Jamie Stewart was the underappreciated Cult member.  His grooves (with session drummer Mickey Curry*) are a part of Sonic Temple‘s drive.

The big hit ballad was the dramatic “Edie (Ciao Baby)”.  Here they really benefit from Bob Rock’s lush rock production values.  Strings and acoustics ring crisp.  Add in a howlin’ Ian Astbury chorus and you have one hell of a song.

“Sweet Soul Sister” was the third single (after “Fire Woman” and “Edie”) and another killer Cult song it is. You can really hear Bob Rock’s touch on the layered vocals for better or worse. It’s a touch that I find dated today, but the bare organ intro is magical! Unfortunately it gets dicey after “Sweet Soul Sister”.

I wouldn’t call any of the songs that follow “Sweet Soul Sister” poor or filler. None of them lack hooks or massive Billy Duffy guitars. Yet compared to the first side of the album, everything from “Soul Asylum” onwards fails to ignite like that. There are certainly lots of memorable moments, such as the breakneck “New York City” featuring an Iggy Pop cameo. It’s a good song, and so is “Soldier Blue” and the rest of the tunes…just not as good as side one. (By the way, if any song on Sonic Temple recalls Led Zeppelin, it the massive “Soul Asylum”, which is basically The Cult’s “Kashmir”.)

SONIC TEMPLE_0002

My copy of Sonic Temple is a limited edition with mirrored hologram cover. I bought it from this guy Todd, who worked at the HMV store at the mall. A buddy of mine had a crush on his sister, or something, and that’s how I knew him. He treated me right when I shopped at his store, and I returned the favour when he sold his stuff to us. That’s how I got this, and also how I got the Sonic Temple Collection 3 CD set complete with mail-away box.

I still like Sonic Temple today, but I only love side one.

3.75/5 stars

*Eric Singer played on the demos, released as part of the Rare Cult Demos box set.  Ex-Tori Amos drummer Matt Sorum appeared in the music videos and played on the tour, where he fatefully met Guns N’ Roses, and the rest was history.

#356: Cassingles

Aaron at the KMA and I have coordinated posts today about cassette singles!  If you can’t get enough, click here for his!  Geoff at the 1001 has also thrown his hat into the ring, and you can see his cassettes here!

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale #356: Cassingles

Cassingle (noun): “cassette single”, a musical single release, usually consisting of two songs, on the cassette format.

A couple years ago, my parents found in their basement something I had lost and presumed would never see again: an old shoebox full of my old cassette singles!  This was especially valuable to me, because a couple of those cassettes have exclusive tracks on them that have never been released on any other format.  Helix’s “Good to the Last Drop” is one such single.  Van Halen’s “Right Now” is another.

The shoebox also contained my prized cassette copy of the Sonic Temple Collection by The Cult.  Buy cassette one (“Fire Woman”) and you can send away for the box.  Buy cassette two (“Edie”) and you get three Cult cards.  Buy cassette three (“Sweet Soul Sister”), and you can send away for a Sonic Temple pin.  (Which I still have, just not handy for a picture.)

There are some tapes that I know I’m missing.  They include three by Warrant:  “Cherry Pie”, “I Saw Red”, and the horrid “We Will Rock You”, which I probably sold at garage sales when I temporarily disowned Warrant in the 1990’s!  I could also swear that I owned Extreme’s “More Than Words”, but I don’t know what happened to that one.  I’m not worried about it since the B-side remix track is being reissued on the deluxe edition of the Pornograffitti album.  Maybe I gave it to Crazy Thunder Bay Girl!

Check out what remains of my cassingle collection below.