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.
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.
Quick clip from a 1991 interview with Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy. This was recorded off a Cult “Spotlight” on MuchMusic; the interviewer is Michael Williams.
Here, The Cult talk about rediscovering their roots and take a couple shots at U2.
RULERS OF ROCK (1988 PolyTel)
When the front cover features crumbled tinfoil, you know you’re in for a seriously good time.
This tape still sounds amazing! It was a gift 30 years ago from an old girlfriend, and it somehow survived all my cassette purges (even the one that sent most of them to Thunder Bay.)
From the fine folks at PolyTel, you get an assortment of hot rock that makes for a remarkably good listen today. Opening with Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” you couldn’t ask for a better embarkation point. That goes right into the back-to-basics brilliance of “Love Removal Machine” by the Cult. I remember that old girlfriend really hated The Cult, so it was kind of her to give this to me. I didn’t have Electric yet, so this was my first ownership of the song.
The Ozzman cometh on “The Ultimate Sin”, still relentless today even though Ozzy tries to ignore most of the Ultimate Sin era. Ozzy and Jake made some incredible music together and this is one. The cassette swings back towards hair metal with Cinderella and their early hit “Nobody’s Fool” from 1986. On tape, the ballad sounds thicker and heavier. It also appears to be the full length version and not a single edit. Up next, it’s the non-metal of The Alarm, but “Rain in the Summertime” fits like a glove. It’s really no softer than “Living on a Prayer” when you think about it. Unfortunately the cassette has a warbly spot right in the middle of the song. Kiss close the side with the softest one yet: “Reason to Live” from Crazy Nights.
Flipping the tape, side two opens with a hit just about equal to the one that commenced side one. The keyboards sound carpet-deep on tape, as you recognise “The Final Countdown” by Europe. If there were only two bands battling for rock supremacy in 1987, it was Bon Jovi vs. Europe. Side one vs side two!
Our first Canadian content is predictably by Rush. Hey, it had to be either Rush or Bryan Adams. “Time Stand Still” featuring Aimee Mann was the kind of mainstream hit perfect for a tape like this. Less predictable is the presence of Yngwie Malmsteen with “Fire” from Trilogy, a song totally out of character for a tape with The Alarm and Cinderella. Deep Purple are next to crash the party with 1987’s Bad Attitude. Once again, it was my first time owning a song. I imagine Deep Purple with a little less shocking next to Yngwie, though probably just as unfamiliar to an unsuspecting buyer.
Why not a little Christian content, since so many styles of rock are represented here? Stryper’s “Honestly” may sound like a romance, but it’s a cleverly disguised prayer. And finally, because why not? It’s “Hourglass” by Squeeze! I was 17 years old, and I hated it! Different story today.
30 years down the road, Rulers of Rock was a delightfully entertaining listen with twists, turns and surprises. And it’s still the only place I own those Squeeze and Alarm songs!
WTF SEARCH TERMS XLI: Another Guest Thussy edition
Thussy here again, with another instalment of WTF Search Terms. We’ve got a mixed bag of crap people type in and somehow wound up on Lebrain’s blog. So in no particular order, here is my top 10.
1. kiss ladano hotter
I wouldn’t want to kiss Lebrain. He does have a hot sister though.
2. english lebrain sex story
I don’t want to know any of Lebrain’s sex stories.
3. calf suck dick
I’ve bottle fed calves. They bite your fingers hard when you’re feeding them. I would suggest keeping your dick far away from them unless you want a cheap sex change.
4. 60 year olds men
Yes Lebrain looks like a 60 year old man.
5. i would like to hear a song on the cults weapon of choice album
Good for you if you want to read a review on the album you’re in the right place. If you want to hear it go to your local record store and purchase the album. That is the best way to listen to it.
6. snake game for 5.1version
How in the hell does this get them to Lebrain’s blog?
7. turn into pump
See above. On top of that what the hell are you looking for?
8. presinor in paradies song
Webster’s dictionary is available on the app store, download it… use it… love it… spell better.
I’m guessing PornHub has many videos of this nature.
10. bruce dickinson screaming into pillow
I don’t have him screaming into a pillow but I do have his top 10 screams so here it is.
Thanks Thussy for another great list!
GETTING MORE TALE #537.3: 2016 Can Suck Balls
Year End Lists, Part 3 – LeBrain
Regardless of the music, 2016 will go down in history (for most of us) for just one notorious reason: The sheer number of stars that we lost, both young and old. Even after I had completed a list of the most significant pop culture deaths in 2016, I had to add even more names: Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher. Princess Leia was one of my first heroes. I was five years old. Carrie was an incredible woman, who lived a hard life and came out laughing.
But we’ll save the deaths for last.
Ever since the Record Store days, I have always done my albums as a Top Five. We had a newsletter and employees were asked to submit their Top Fives of the year. That being the case, I’ve always stuck with that tradition even when my compatriots have submitted some pretty awesome Top Tens.
You can check out the submitted Top Ten lists here:
After much deliberation, here are my Top Five albums of 2016.
5. Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct
4. Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem
3. Jim Crean – Insatiable
2. The Cult – Hidden City
1. Monster Truck – Sittin’ Heavy
And of course, some killer runners-up. These three releases rocked hard and were just barely squeezed out of the Top Five:
A Rebel Few – As The Crow Flies
Black Sabbath – The End
Evilyn Strange – Evilution
Top TV shows of 2016
Some extras! The TV shows below are the only ones I bother with. If you haven’t watched American Dad yet, after all my badgering, I don’t know what else I can say about the funniest show on TV!
Actually I do — American Dad has the best musical jokes. You will hear plenty of great tunes: Metallica, The Sword, Stan Bush, Satriani, Rush, Queen, and many more. And even the songs you don’t like (Owl City, Kelly Clarkson?) are hilarious, because of the context. That’s what makes a musical joke work. You can find a complete list of songs used in American Dad by clicking here.
Top four TV shows:
4. Family Guy
3. The Grinder
2. The Walking Dead
1. American Dad
Dropping off the list is the Big Bang Theory which started to suck a couple years ago, a few noteworthy episodes aside (such as any time Wil Wheaton shows up).
Movies were…just movies. There was nothing this year with the emotional impact of The Force Awakens. The films below are not in any particular order. They are just movies, nothing more and nothing less. 2016 was a somewhat disappointing year for the silver screen. (I have not yet seen Arrival.)
Captain America: Civil War
Star Trek Beyond
And sadly, the real dead pool. These are just some of the musicians, actors, writers and sports heroes we lost in the year of 2016. Many went way too young. At the 11th hour, I received this sketch of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. It was drawn by Wardy who you may know as regular reader here. Thank you Wardy for sending and giving me permission to post this great sketch. (Wardy is one talented guy with a pencil.) Rest in peace to all below.
Rest in peace, and thank you for making our days a little brighter.
Please welcome — for the first time ever! — a guest shot from J from Resurrection Songs! Please welcome J with his Top Albums list of 2016.
GETTING MORE TALE #537.2: 2016 Can Suck Balls
Year End Lists, Part 2 – J from Resurrection Songs
It’s been a right strange year. A right grim one if you consider the musical losses, not to mention the political shenanigans. Soon we’ll be populating a post-apocalyptic world. Hopefully more Mad Max than The Road. For some of us, at least. Soundtracked, it’s a year that I’ve been discovering more older releases than newer releases thanks to the writings and recommendations of fellow bloggers. However, there have been a fair few new releases that I have really enjoyed and I figured I’d hang out at Ladano’s place and say “here’s my top ten albums”.
The following are without a doubt my favourites of the year. These are the albums that grabbed my attention beyond the first side. That continue to pull me in. I am a man immersed in all their sonic awesomeness as I slip deeper and deeper into their grooves.
10. Gojira – Magma
9. The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem
8. The Cult – Hidden City
7. Black Mountain – IV
6. Sturgil Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
5. Causa Sui – Return To Sky
4. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
3. The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith of Phobos
2. Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
1. My Jerusalem – A Little Death
Note: Lists are tough, but the top five were particularly tough to separate (all stellar in my opinion). Also, I need to spend a bit more time with Bowie’s Blackstar, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Skeleton Tree, case/lang/viers, and, of course, pick up the latest Leonard release now it’s available on vinyl.
There have been a few times in Cult history when it seemed unlikely they would be making any more albums. Thankfully, these fears were unfounded. Thankfully, because The Cult are so damn great at making albums.
Their latest is Hidden City, and it continues their upwards trajectory. Teamed up once again with Bob Rock, the band created a powerful recording, very Cult-like and loud. It is a cohesive and impressive collection of songs that tend to defy individual description. It is easy to pick our favourites such as “No Love Lost”, “Birds of Paradise” or “Hinterland” (my personal fave), but Hidden City is more than the sum of its parts. Its components are strong compositions that highlight the strengths of the band: Ian Astbury’s powerful and unique voice, and Billy Duffy’s unmistakable riff stylings. Hidden City collects the light and shade and presents them as a multi-coloured hue.
Its grooves are huge but textured. The songs reveal more hooks the more you listen. The Cult’s performances are top notch. The album is electrifying. Hidden City must be considered a latter-day high water mark, an album that builds on the last few records and continues pushing forward. The Cult rule again.
This is a 200 word review in the tradition of the #200wordchallenge
Only 25 years late, I have finally acquired the Cult’s Ceremony CD, thanks to my kind and generous reader Wardy. I somehow missed this album all those years, even though I own all the singles. There are some songs here that are completely new to me. Ceremony received mixed reviews when it was released, as it represented the band’s furthest move away from their roots, into commercial radio rock. Let’s see how accurate that is.
It starts sounding more like some lost Deep Purple album, with big organ and jammy sounds. Richie Zito co-produced this disc, and the band got a sharper sound out of the studio than they did with Bob Rock last time. Sonically, Ceremony has more impact, more heft, more oomph than the big and echoey Sonic Temple. The “Ceremony” in question on the title track is the rock arena, as the Cult had definitely become arena rock. They had also been reduced to a core duo. Jamie Stewart and Matt Sorum were gone, and the Cult used session musicians during this period. Charlie Drayton (bass) and Mickey Curry (drums) helped the band achieve what sounds like a very sincere crack at this kind of rock. Accessible it is, but the Cult didn’t really sell out. Check out the frantic “Wild Hearted Son”. Like the sound of a stampede of horses across the plains, “Wild Hearted Son” does not let up. I think I lot of fans were disappointed that the new Cult sound wasn’t more esoteric, but that doesn’t make it bad.
Just as relentless as “Wild Hearted Son” comes the “Earth Mofo”. One thing I had never really paid attention to before was the bass. Drayton’s get some great bass chops. The production of Ceremony leaves a lot of space between the instruments, so you can hear them. Those who find Sonic Temple overproduced may dig on this, so give “Earth Mofo” a spin. That’s nothing though compared to the powerful “White”. Epic in scope, “White” is a massive groove with layers of acoustic instruments a-la Zep.
I didn’t see the tender sound of “If” coming, just piano and Ian’s crooning. Not after all that heavy hitting rock. But then “If” also explodes into something bigger, anthemic and memorable. I’m starting to think that if Ceremony got a bad rap back in ’91, it’s because people weren’t paying proper attention.
“Full Tilt” is a great name for a rock song. Riffed out with generous helpings of rock sauce, “Full Tilt” was reported to have knocked a picture of at least one journalist’s wall.* Just wait until the afterburners ignite in the last minute of the song. Strangely, the very next track is the acoustic ballad “Heart of Soul”; a good song indeed but not as great as “Edie (Ciao Baby)” was. Back to the rock, “Bankok Rain” lacks the charisma that the rest of the tunes seem to have in common, though there is certainly nothing wrong with it’s staggering riff. By the end you won’t care, because the whole thing burns like fire and gasoline until all the fuel is spent.
A fascinating Cult song is “Indian”, a basic acoustic song with cello accompaniment. As Cult ballads go, this is definitely a peak moment. Ian infuses more passion into one line than most singers can do in a whole song. Unexpectedly, the album moves right on to another ballad, “Sweet Salvation”, which is actually less a ballad and more a soul song. It’s powerful, as are all these songs in their own ways. Ian Astbury breaks out the Morrison poetry jams to kick off the ending track, “Wonderland”, a riff driven slow broil.
That’s the album, and it’s hard to gauge where it sits among the whole Cult catalogue. Certainly, this and Sonic Temple are brother records. They are stylistically more similar than Cult albums tend to be. Ceremony possesses track after track of scorching rock music. Does it make as strong an impression as the bombastic Sonic Temple? Not quite. By stripping the production to a more sparse and live sound, perhaps the Cult sacrificed the nuances. Ceremony gleams shiny with amped up guitars and drums aplenty. It is hard to find fault. It is still a fine album.
* That’s a true story, but I can’t remember what magazine I read it in. The reviewer said, quote “‘Full Tilt’ knocked a picture off my wall.”
GETTING MORE TALE #503.5: Reader Mail
There are a few rituals that I look forward to every day. I love waking up in the morning and checking to see if there are any new comments here. I look forward to coming home from work and spending time with Mrs. LeBrain. I also enjoy checking the mail box. I never know what surprises I might find each day. Sometimes it’s bills, or flyers from the local Church of Scientology. Today, it was a present from a reader!
You may have seen Wardy around in the comments section, and you also may have read some reviews that were requested by him. Wardy likes The Cult, among many bands, and requested a review for their Ceremony album. Problem: I didn’t have Ceremony. I had all the singles, but not the album. In fact I think it is (somehow) the only Cult album I never bought.
Not any more! All the way from Australia, here is Ceremony! (And not just Australia, but Tasmania, which to me makes it that much cooler!) I guess I could say I got it on Australian import. Now I don’t have a choice; I have to review it! How could I say no, now?
As I press “play” for the first time, I leave you with this.
When you eventually see a review for the Cult’s Ceremony up here, thank Wardy. THANK YOU WARDY!