Mar 30, 2010

Turn it up

Last night I hopped in the car to head to the market. We were low on a few of life's little necessities and dinner was rapidly approaching. We've all been there. You have the stresses of the day on your mind. Your plans for the upcoming week, the weekend, Easter, vacation. Whatever. Your mind is a blur of minor and major problems and how you are going to handle them.

And then you turn the key on the car, the radio kicks in and the absolute perfect driving song has just started on the radio.  You forget about everything.  You barely remember where you are going.  You just put it on autopilot and you drive.  That happened to me last night when The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary" appeared like magic on the radio just as I was pulling away from the curb.

I was a big fan of The Cult back in the 80's. Their Love album, the one with "She Sells Sanctuary", was a classic of that particular period. A little harder than the whiny 80's crap that was mostly playing on the radio at the time, and a little less goth than they probably wanted to be.  The follow-up, Electric, was an even bigger hit even if the band moved a bit away from their goth roots to become Rick Rubin's power pop/rock band of the moment.  It was all so very easily accessible for most radio listeners.

Their lead singer, Ian Astbury, was a combination of a dandy vampire and a foppish pirate. Strutting around on stage like an upper-class peacock doing his best Steven Tyler impersonation. And Billy Duffy was ever the workman of the group. Pounding out power chords on his classic Gretsch White Falcon.

I remember reading an issue of SPIN soon after Electric hit the stores.  It contained a minor criticism of the band by some artist I can't quite recall.  Wait...hang on a minute, lemme see if I can find it.

Holy Shit!  I found it!

It was from an article about the critical darling band That Petrol Emotion (remember them?), and one of its members was talking about the sad state of what was passing for popular music in 1987.  Steve Mack, their American vocalist, spoke of the following:

I was at this gig last night and I had a revelation.  I was watching a band.  They were trying real hard.  The singer was really manic and he had this great pair of manic brown eyes.  He was running all about the stage and I thought "What's missing?"  I started listening to the music and I thought "He can't be serious!"  You can't sing "Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, I was born in a shotgun shack in a one-horse town."  I mean, let's get real here!  It just turns into a farce.  It's really important that people say what they mean.
It was plainly obvious that he was talking about The Cult and songs like "Love Removal Machine" and "Lil' Devil".  And he was right, I guess.  Even if he did use the word "manic" twice in one sentence to describe Ian Astbury.  But mostly I remember The Cult being something that I could turn on, turn up and tune out.  They never made "art", I guess.  But what they did, they did very well. 

And for 4 minutes and 23 seconds on Monday evening, I was happy that they did.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Oh the Texas sun, makes my back burn. 


Slyde said...

You always told me your favorite group ever was "Right Said Fred".

Verdant Earl said...

Slyde - they were brilliant. Whatever happened to those lads? Did you get an autographed picture of them this past weekend at that GeekCon you attended?

Kevin McKeever said...

We all need a little love removal machine once n while.

Heff said...

Haven't heard that in a LONG time, but still enjoy it.

Verdant Earl said...

Uncool - The song or the actual, um, machine? Because, ewww.

Heff - That song just feels like the mid-80's to me. I remember the guys who lived in the next house over from us in college. They formed a cover band and everything that they did kinda sucked. Except for this song. Then could never replicate the magic with any other song. Sad.

Faiqa said...

One of the first albums I bought with my own money was Sonic Temple...I became an instant fan and devoured anything by them after that.

I listen to this song at least once a week. It's my theme song. Except, I think it's about a prostitute, which doesn't make any sense.

Also, I wanted to marry Ian Asterbury until... about a three or four years ago when I realized he'd probably scare my kids, so it would never work between us.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

HAY!!! I actually remember this one!!!!

For once, I don't feel like a complete music moron. Nice.

Faiqa said...

PS, just watched the video with my 8 month old in my lap and he started crying when it was over!! He loved it!!

Ian? If you're reading, I'm still available.

Avitable said...

I have never been a huge fan of The Cult, but this is one song I really enjoy.

Barlinnie said...

A pure dead brilliant 80's song!

RW said...

Was I around?

white rabbit said...

*quavering voice*

Who are these young people???

Verdant Earl said...

Faiqa - Alas, Sonic Temple is when I started moving away from being a fan of the band. Still like the older stuff, but everything from Sonic Temple onward doesn't do it for me.

Candy - Hay!

Faiqa2 - oddly enough, Ian is reading this right now. Over my shoulder. And he keeps correcting my grammar. It's both creepy and annoying.

Avitable - How about other cults? Clearwater isn't too far away from you, right? ;)

Jimmy - Absolutely!

RW - In 1985? Gee, I think so. Were you the guy who gave me those magic mushrooms?

Wabbit - "quavering voice"??? Who said that? I'm confused.

Paticus said...

I really dug "Love"(still do) , but never really liked anything they did afterwards. this is a great song.

RW said...

sorry- I have no sound at work at don't really remember them without hearing them. I think I was elsewhere, musicwise, at the time, but I can't be sure cuz i can't hear them.

marty mankins said...

"Love" was and still is my favorite album by The Cult (formerly known as Southern Death Cult). I played that cassette to death. In fact, I did a Scooter Sunday episode to the song "Rain"

"Electric" was pretty good, and I played it a good deal. "Sonic Temple" was more mainstream - it had "Edie (Ciao Baby)" and "Fire Woman" Since then, Ian Astbury has done all sorts of projects (posing as Kim Morrison at one point), but I so wish The Cult would return to the greatness that was "Love"

sybil law said...

Never heard of the Petrol group.

Verdant Earl said...

Paticus - I hear ya, and agree with ya.

RW - Aha!

Marty - If only they could. But they were a product of the times.

Sybil - they never hit it big, but they were pretty cool.

Bruce Johnson said...

I can't recall the last time I heard this. Probably somewhere up in Oregon during the Regean era. Sadly, we don't get to hear this type of music down here in Phoenix. It is all preprogrammed baby boomer crap (think Pink Floyd, ZZ-Top and the Eagles, all day...every day).

Thanks for taking me back to a better place....even if it was just for 5 minutes.

scissorhands said...

Hate to tell you this, but it's not "The Texas sun." He is actually saying "Oh, the heads that turn." I know it kind of sounds like "Texas Sun," but it's not. And the 2nd time he says it he says "And those heads that turn, make my back burn."