Awesome Totally Awesome - The Cult - Electric

ATA’s Music Writer, Dan Franklin’s Desert Island Album: The Cult’s Electric

This album begins with a riff. It’s a succinct, simple riff. It ranks among some of the best purveyors of riffs (Black Sabbath, ZZ Top). A good riff is too rare a thing, but a guitar player figures it out, it’s one of the most satisfying contributions a musician can make. You can see Tony Iommi tap into it and keep it going for years, and then, unfortunately, lose it (he being the king of riffs, to my ears). In the years since The Cult has clearly been about Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy. When I encountered them, though, I saw British bikers ensconced in fur, the band’s logo written in flame-like characters.

This album found me at a point of transition. I don’t remember how I heard of this album. I do recall critics mentioning that it owed a lot to AC/DC. Maybe it does. Ian Astbury is more Jim Morrison than Bon Scott, though even that comparison has never quite worked for me. He is, at heart, a rock star and performer, like both of them. The album connected easily with me, coming out of years as a metal fan and into what was then called “college rock.” It was dirty and simple, guitar-driven. Listening to it today, I can hear a punk influence, or maybe at least Motorhead.

This album is likely significantly a Rick Rubin creation. There are Rick Rubin detractors. I don’t agree with them. When it’s all said and done, Rick Rubin will have been responsible for some of the most significant music of my lifetime–Beastie Boys, Slayer, Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, and yes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Cult began by mining some of the same territories as U2, but the Native American mythology was there from early on and became more pronounced. By its third album Love, a classic in itself, it was producing gothic rock a la Sisters of Mercy. The early demos of Electric show it going in something like that same direction. Rubin seems to have stepped in and insisted that the songs are kept short and the guitar and drums hit the listener with immediacy.

This album launched a long-term Cult obsession for me. I bought it on cassette and then replaced it with the CD version. I went back to the Southern Death Cult album and followed them forward, seeking out b-sides. I bought their early concert video. I have been able to see them several times and have not been let down. There are cerebral points in The Cult’s catalog, but this doesn’t so much contain them. It was good music for me to skate to, at the time. Others were easily converted as well. My brother’s metal friends were promptly on board. If Jane’s Addiction is credited with bridging the gap to alternative music before Nirvana did it on such a larger scale, I’d posit that The Cult got there a year or so before Jane’s. We don’t always remember it this way now, but metalheads were fairly open to bands like The Cult, Jane’s Addiction, and Soundgarden, as the bands were hearkening back to such revered bands as Zeppelin.

This album is a wolf’s child, baby. It speaks of the devil, a woman who is a devil, outlaws, peace. It really does owe its debt to the 60s, maybe Easy Rider. Maybe that’s why Born to Be Wild is on here, which is perhaps the one misstep. It is a credible cover, though, and does fit the vibe of the rest of the album. (Maybe I’d change it out with Zap City or one of the other songs scrapped from the pre-Rubin demos). In King Contrary Man, the narrator first refuses Satan’s crossroads deal, recalling the famed Robert Johnson story, but then he says, “Yeah, you can take my soul. I want it all!” There’s something special about Electric. The Cult wouldn’t quite sound like this again. They stayed comfortably within the hard rock/metal genre, but they’d never again hit quite this hard. I daresay the deal paid off.

This album is still with me into my decrepit middle age. Today I’m listening to it on a streaming service. It still sounds powerful and as classic as it did from my first listen. I might listen to it out of nostalgia, and if it had detractors at the time, they might have said that it relied too much on nostalgia. This is rock and roll, though. It needs to hit you in the gut. It needs to make a deal with Satan. It needs to command your attention and make you turn it up. In a time when so much music seems anemic, this album serves us permission, as Astbury once told a crowd at South by Southwest: “You’re all free to rock again!”

Awesome Totally Awesome - Freaks & Weirdos Boutique
ATA - DTK

Awesome Dropping

Awesome Totally Awesome - Fallout 76

What to Expect From Fallout 76

Fallout 76 is not perfect. No Bethesda game is on release. With that being said, there are few bugs that have already been revealed that need to be resolved before the release date.
Awesome Totally Awesome Megan Thee Stallion

Make Way for Megan Thee Stallion

Megan Thee Stallion's unapologetic lyrics and ownership of her physical space and sexuality as a woman couldn’t be more important given the current political landscape.
Awesome Totally Awesome

The 10: Saturday Morning Cartoon Edition - the 80's

/
If you were a kid in the late 70's and throughout the 80's, you were fortunate enough to experience the phenom of Saturday Morning cartoons. I'm talking about before the Zach Morris era.

Awesome Features

Why Phil Kessel Is Awesome (And Why You Should Think So Too)

Phil Kessel beat cancer during his rookie season and went on to become a five time thirty goal scorer and two time Stanley Cup Champion on his own terms.  In spite of being one of the most prolific goal scorers of his generation, Phil has been oft maligned, bullied, and minimized by the press, the fans, the NHL, and even his peers.

ATA's Review of Adidas' 747 Warehouse St. Experience

Adidas 747 was an epic event.  Spanning several blocks surrounding and within the old American Apparel manufacturing building in downtown LA, Adidas went all out to represent during this year’s NBA all-star game.
Awesome Totally Awesome - Ignoring Help

Why Are We Ignoring a Blatant Cry For Help?

We want to believe that we are morally “good”, but when the shit actually hits the metaphorical—or literal—fan, sometimes we fail.

Awesome Trending

UBER Chronicles

Uber Chronicles: Tuesday Morning Microagression

Mike was my fellow Uber passenger. He got out to help me into the vehicle. As he got back in, he told Bob, our driver, to hop to it! Bob thanked him for helping me get in.
Awesome Totally Awesome Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s Next Collaboration Is a Trip

ATA has since discovered that Musk is working closely with DTK (Drink the Koolaid) Labs on a new LSD that he claims will initiate a new industrial revolution.
Awesome Totally Awesome Coral Fang

The Album That Was Always There: The Distillers' Classic The Coral Fang Turns 15

October 2018 marked 15 years since the Distillers’ “The Coral Fang” debuted. For many Distillers fans, “The Coral Fang” will always maintain its legendary status.