The Cult - Pure Cult: The Singles 1984 - 1995 (Beggars Banquet)
How could anyone forget The Cult? All through the 80s, they were IT. From Goths to hippies to rock gods, The Cult managed to retain a sense of respectability and cool in the midst of the hairspray and lip-gloss that enveloped them. Anyone who went to an indie club was guaranteed to see a major variety of people dancing to 'She Sells Sanctuary' or 'Fire Woman' - Goths in full make-up, metallers in leather jackets and indie kids with brightly coloured hair. Then, at the beginning of the nineties, their star went into fatal decline. Despite Ian Astbury working with the dance band Messiah and their own flirtations with techno on "The Cult", nobody was interested and they split in the haze between Ian's drug use and Billy Duffy's clean living.
Now they're back as Cult Rising and in advance of new material, they've released a new "Pure Cult" compilation that showcases their career without the remixes and new versions of the last "Pure Cult". This time it's just the singles. Tracing their evolution from 'Resurrection Joe' and the "Dreamtime" album to 'The Witch', "The Cult" album and the final, US-only, single, 'In the Clouds'. Ironically, while "Love" is often regarded as their best album, two of the tracks, 'Revolution' and 'Rain' sound hopelessly dated and more than a bit naff. However, "Love" also contained the true classic, 'She Sells Sanctuary' that defined their sound for the next 3 albums. 'Lil' Devil', 'Fire Woman' and 'Wild Hearted Son' are all basically '...Sanctuary' revisited. Much of the rest of that period is best forgotten, big guitar noises with rawk vocals and overdone rock ballads like 'Edie (Ciao Baby)'.
The rest of the compilation is made up of early stuff from the "Dreamtime" era that show a band that had perfected the sound of the rocker part of the Goth scene - rhythm driven powerhouses that have yet to be bettered, and the later stuff. 'The Witch', their first stab at a technofied rock track, sounds incredibly passť and inept - something that's been done a lot better since. Even worse is 'In the Clouds', the sound of a band that had run out of idea - a tacky rock ballad of the lighter in the air variety. In between these two, though, there was "The Cult" and 'Coming Down (Drug Tongue)' where they had perfected the grungy techno-rock sound. That single was perfectly complimented by a brilliant video that was shamelessly ripped off by The Chemical Brothers on 'Hey Boy, Hey Girl'.
All in all, The Cult produced a handful of classics, but mainly they followed the trends of the time, consigning most of their material to the dustbin of history. It will be interesting to hear what they do next.
by Donnacha DeLong