Great Albums That Weren't: The Cult's 'Electric' Turns 30!

There are few bands I love more than The Cult. There are few bands I loathe more then The Cult.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the April 1987 release of Electric, an album so nice the band recorded it twice, but that this writer believes is solely responsible for sending the band down a bad path; one they're still on to this day.

For all intents and purposes, the band's 1985 album Love had been for them what Cuts Like A Knife had been for Bryan Adams, what High N Dry had been for Def Leppard, and, perhaps the best example, what Highway To Hell had been for AC/DC. 

All they had to do was record in the same studio with the same producer, but, this time, take everything they'd learned from two solid years on the road and combine it with everything their producer had learned and perfected in those same two years of working on other projects.

The resulting albums, Reckless, Pyromania, and Back In Black, had each picked up where their predecessors had left off, but, this time around, everything was bigger - the riffs, the hooks, and, most importantly, the production - delivering the knockout punch that would send each respective artist's career into the stratosphere.

The Cult were smart enough to realize that after recording "She Sells Sanctuary" in 1984 with producer Steve Brown, they'd hit upon that one thing that all bands hope to find: their own unique sound.

Other songs would quickly follow: Rain, Revolution, Nirvana, Hollow Man, Big Neon Glitter, and soon an album was starting to take shape.

On paper, it may have been just guitar, bass and drums topped by the siren wail of singer Ian Astbury, but, in practice, it was good old-fashioned chemistry between band and producer that helped achieve remarkable results from simple ingredients.

Considering the number of psychedelic revivalist guitar bands at the time, Love was one of the few albums of the decade that actually managed to deliver on the promise of massive walls of hazy psychedelic riffage. That it did so with a swagger of an old Stones album was just icing on the cake.

When the band reconvened with Brown in 1986 to record their much-anticipated follow-up, the results of those sessions left all involved scratching their heads. Whatever magic had been there two years ago was now nowhere to be found.

The reason we know this is because The Cult would release the original Steve Brown-produced versions of "Love Removal Machine", 'Wild Flower", "Electric Ocean, "Bad Fun", and "Outlaw" as the Manor Sessions EP in 1988.

We can only surmise that this was in response to the many fans who took one listen to Electric's dry-as-dust mix and complained to the band about trying to fix what hadn't been broken. This being pre-internet, we rock fans had no way of knowing the band had already tried going that route.

Once we heard those masters, though, it was easy to see where the band had gone wrong:

In their haste to take advantage of then-hot producer Rick Rubin's interest in helping them achieve their misguided vision to become a third-rate Steppenwolf, never once did the band ever think to blame the material for why their initial Peace sessions with Brown had failed to impress.

In listening to the Manor Sessions EP today, the production is far from perfect, but the band would have arguably been better served releasing those versions than the ones found on Electric and thereby subjecting themselves to Rick Rubin's whims and becoming just another tired hard rock pose when what they had on their own was already truly special.

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