The Cult were always something of a musical juxtaposition—Ian Astbury’s unique doom-laden vocals combined with Billy Duffy’s melodic and punchy axework to create a sound that was both ear-friendly and gothic—and this collection of rarities, remixes and outtakes from 1984-1992 continues in that vein.
This single CD is actually a compilation of highlights from the recent six disc, box set of rarities with 10 of the tracks included here available in that collection and five unavailable. Presumably then, it is aimed at the die-hard fan and despite some suggestions of fan exploitation, there’s no denying Best of Rare Cult also serves as a fascinating introduction to a band that undeniably changed the face of British Rock.
And “She Sells Sanctuary”, the timeless Cult anthem that played a major part in that process, is represented here in all its unedited, lengthy glory. A storming, pulsating tune, it is probably the song that defined the band’s odd, yet hugely enjoyable sound with most precision. The explosive “Love Removal Machine”, another of the band’s most well known tracks, is also present as a “lost” remix which has never previously surfaced, and shows why the band achieved such initial success.
Although Duffy and Astbury remained at the heart of the band, several line up changes over the years determined that the band would never achieve a sustained period of huge success, but the majority of the remaining material on Best of Rare Cult testifies to the quality and originality of the band’s songwriting.
With a simply huge riff and inviting melody, “Little Face” is a B-side that should have been an A-side, while Astbury gives us his own history lesson in “Spanish Gold”. The acoustic version of “Edie (Ciao Baby)” shows a more delicate side to the band and gives Duffy’s tremendous guitar work another platform, and “Sea and Sky” dates back to the band’s former days as “Death Cult”. “The River” may perhaps be a little too self-indulgent, but “Bleeding Heart Graffiti”, a wonderful outtake from the same Sonic Temple sessions makes this CD an almost essential purchase.
The Cult are apparently in the studio working on another comeback album, but in the meantime, Rare Cult should give long-time Cult fans, as well as the uninitiated a satisfying collection of material to be going on with.
// Notes from the Road
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