The Cult

VHS Archives #78: Ian and Billy from The Cult chat about roots (and U2)

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.

REVIEW: Rulers of Rock – Various Artists (1988 cassette)

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!

4/5 stars

 

 

WTF Search Terms: Another Guest Thussy edition

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.

9. /de/video/182513/three-teen-striptease-on-webcam

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!

#537.3: 2016 Can Suck Balls – Year End Lists, Part 3 – LeBrain

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.

2016

Perspective.

 


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!

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).


Top Movies of 2016
movie

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.)

Star Wars: Rogue One

Captain America: Civil War

Suicide Squad

Star Trek Beyond

Deadpool

 


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.

carrie-fisher-1956-2016-sketch-by-wardy

  • Paul MacLeod
  • David Bowie
  • Prince
  • Alan Rickman
  • George Michael
  • Rick Parfitt
  • Ralph “Chick” Schumilas
  • John Glenn
  • Muhammad Ali
  • Florence Henderson
  • Gene Wilder
  • Arnold Palmer
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Dave Broadfoot
  • Glenn Frey
  • Gordie Howe
  • Harper Lee
  • Phife Dawg
  • Sir George Martin
  • Anton Yelchin
  • Garry Shandling
  • Christina Grimmie
  • Alan Thicke
  • Kenny Baker
  • Leon Russell
  • Merle Haggard
  • Paul Kantner
  • Jimmy Bain
  • John McLaughlin
  • Abe Vigoda
  • Chyna
  • Pat Harrington Jr.
  • Keith Emerson
  • Greg Lake
  • David Huddleston
  • Maurice White
  • George Kennedy
  • Rob Ford
  • Ralph Stanley
  • George Gaynes
  • Alan Young
  • Frank Sinatra Jr.
  • Lonnie Mack
  • Nick Menza
  • Prince Be
  • Bernie Worrell
  • Matt Roberts
  • Mr. Fuji
  • Alexis Arquette
  • Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr.
  • Jose Fernandez
  • Jean Shepard
  • Pete Burns
  • Robert Vaughn
  • Bobby Vee
  • Leonard Haze
  • James Wooley
  • Sandy Pearlman
  • John Berry
  • John Thomas
  • Dale “Buffin” Griffin
  • Carrie Fisher
  • Debbie Reynolds

 

Rest in peace, and thank you for making our days a little brighter.

LeBrain

#537.2: 2016 Can Suck Balls – Year End Lists, Part 2 – J from Resurrection Songs

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

jIt’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.

J

REVIEW: The Cult – Hidden City (2016)

scan_20161008THE CULT – Hidden City (2016 Dine Alone)

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.

5/5 stars

This is a 200 word review in the tradition of the #200wordchallenge

scan_20161008-3

REVIEW: The Cult – Ceremony (1991)

Scan_20160729THE CULT – Ceremony (1991 Beggars Banquet)

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.

3.5/5 stars

* 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.”

#503.5: Reader Mail

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!

IMG_20160728_173956

#485: Cry for the Indians

GETTING MORE TALE #485: Cry for the Indians

We rarely get political here at LeBrain’s Record Store Tales and Reviews.  We try to keep the discussions light.  The topics are mostly focused on music, tech, retail and work place stories.  With that in mind, here’s a good work place tale from 2006.

Without getting into the nitty gritty details, back in 2006, a group of Six Nations on a reserve near Caledonia held an armed standoff over Aboriginal land claims.  In question was a 40 hectare parcel of land that was being prepared for development into subdivisions.  They occupied a large patch of land and wouldn’t budge, stating that historically they never gave up this land.  There is a very complex history as to the ownership of land in Caledonia, going back to 1784.  The police arrested occupiers, and in return the Six Nations set up roadblocks.  This went on for weeks, highlighted by violence and anger on both sides.  Local radio covered all the news, which made national headlines.   It was an ugly scene all around, but also a very serious issue that remains unresolved today (the last blockade happened in 2014).

During the months this was going down in 2006, I was working in a small data entry office with two ladies a little older than myself.  The radio was tuned to the local news.  During an update on the situation, one of the two ladies blurted out, quite offensively, “Why don’t those Indians just pack up and go home and stop causing trouble?  I’m sick of them!  I don’t even understand what they want!”  She ranted for a bit and then things went quiet.  The other lady didn’t answer, so I chimed in.

“They’re arguing for their rights to use their traditional lands,” I explained.

“What land?!” she answered incredulously.

“In Caledonia, but really this was all their land,” I informed her.  “When the Europeans like us came to this country, we pushed them off their land and took it for ourselves.  Now all they have left are these little crummy reservations.  But they were here first.”

Her response was something I’ll never forget:

“What?!  I never heard of that!”

 

Come again?  Did you somehow miss grades 1 through 12?  Canada often prides itself in our great education system.  There’s proof right there that it certainly has its flaws.  Highschool is free, people!  I had to explain this to a lady who was old enough to know where all the white people in North America came from.  I had to convince her this was real history and not a “theory”.  She didn’t have to like these facts, but how can you go through life without even knowing them?

And that is the story of one of the most ignorant comments I’ve ever heard inside or outside the work place.  In the words of Anthrax:

We all see black and white,
When it comes to someone else’s fight,
No one ever gets involved,
Apathy can never solve.

Forced out – brave and mighty,
Stolen land – they can’t fight it,
Hold on – to pride and tradition,
Even though they know how much their lives are really missin’,
We’re dissin’ them.
On reservations,
A hopeless situation.

Cry for the Indians,
Die for the Indians,
Cry for the Indians,
Cry, cry, cry for the Indians.

Respect is something that you earn,
Our Indian brothers’ getting burned,
Original American,
Turned into second class citizen.

Love the land and fellow man,
Peace is what we strive to have,
Some folks have none of this,
Hatred and prejudice.

Territory –  It’s just the body of the nation,
The people that inhabit it make its configuration.
Prejudice – Something we all can do without,
Cause a flag of many colors is what this land’s all about.

REVIEW: The Cult – Rare Cult (7 CD limited box set)

THE CULT – Rare Cult (2000 Beggars Banquet box set with limited 7th remix CD)

Rare Cult is a feast of rare and unreleased Cult music, for the Cult connosoir only. If you’ve been a Cult fan for a while but have struggled to find those early singles, then this is your dream box set, my friend.  They have a lot of singles and assorted rarities, and acquiring a complete set of them all takes money.  Rare Cult secures a huge chunk of that music in one package.

I’m not going to bother cataloging all the different tunes and where they came from.  They’re too numerous but I will say the following:

1. This set has an enormous number of unreleased demos and otherwise finished songs that nobody had heard before — not previously released on B-sides. The songs range from the Dreamtime era (1984) with some cool, unheard BBC performances.  Over six discs, it spans over a decade to 1995 when the band broke up (for the first time). All tracks are of very good sound quality.

2. There is a humongous (80 page) booklet inside, with complete credits and details for every single song contained within.  Billy Duffy and Ian Astbury provide commentary, and there are lots of photos too.

3. There are a lot of remixes here, as per normal for a band from this era. In fact there is an entire seventh limited edition bonus disc dedicated single remixes, called Rare Cult Mixes.  I don’t know how many copies were released with the bonus disc, but be sure of what you buy before you buy it! Personally I don’t see the point of buying this set without the seventh disc. For example, the “Fire Woman” single had two excellent remixes: The “LA mix”, and the “NYC mix”. The NYC mix is included on the Disc 5 of this box set, but to get the LA mix, if you don’t have the “Fire Woman” single, can only be had on the limited edition seventh Rare Cult disc. If you’re a collector (which I think you are, because if you’re not you probably stopped reading this already) then there’s no reason to buy the version without the bonus CD.  Wait it out and get the full package.

4. Peace. While astute fans had probably collected most of these tracks already, this box set contains the first ever official release of the Peace album, in sequence on disc 3. The Cult were working on Peace after the Love album, and even finished it, but scrapped the recordings for being too Love-like. They hooked up with Rick Rubin to revamp, re-write, and re-record the album, released as Electric. Many of the Peace songs surfaced as B-sides over the years, on singles and EPs such as The Manor Sessions.  While Rare Cult was the first release of the full Peace album, it has since been reissued as part of the Electric Peace two disc set.

5. Warning! There’s more. If you really, really, really want it all, you have to shell out for the single CD Best Of Rare Cult which had five exclusive songs not included here. Oh, marketing.  The five exclusives on Best of Rare Cult are:  “She Sells Sanctuary (long version)”, “Spanish Gold”, “The River”, “Lay Down Your Gun (version two)”, and “Go West (Crazy Spinning Circles) (original mix)”.  Some of these songs, such as “The River”, are B-sides, while some are unreleased.

6. There’s even more! Yes, there are demos here, but that’s not all of them. The masterminds behind this set cleverly left off enough demos to create a whole other box set. You’ll want to pony up for Rare Cult: The Demo Sessions (an even more limited edition 5 CD set of its own) which is interesting in its own right. Look at Rare Cult as scratching the surface.

7. Even with all this stuff available out there, The Cult liked to include live songs on their singles. None are present here. Be forewarned, you may still want to get those original singles anyway, if you care enough!  Maybe they should do a box set called Rare Live Cult.  (Are you listening Ian?)

As a listening experience, Rare Cult is long but rewarding. One thing about The Cult, they were a diverse band, and this set is very diverse. For example you’ll go from a very dancy 80’s remix of “Sanctuary” straight into “No. 13” which is more punk influenced. Regardless of what it is, or what it isn’t, I think this set is worth listening to. Even their demos are better than most bands’ album tracks.  Like many bands who released numerous single B-sides, The Cult put effort into all their songs.  Check out “Sea and Sky”, “Bleeding Heart Graffiti” and “Bone Bag” as ample proof.

The packaging is quite nice. It comes in a sturdy black box. The aforementioned booklet allows you to read through the whole history of the band up to 1995.  The first six discs are housed in three double digipacks, while the seventh disc sits in its own sleeve tucked into the box.

You might not very often have the luxury of 8-9 hours to listen to the Cult, but if you’re a fan, think hard and consider your buying options.

4/5 stars