Back in the heady days of 1985, post-punk had given way to goth, the paisley underground was still smoking, and hair metal was just beginning to rear its poufy head. This was very much a year of transition in music, but one record was on every hipster's turntable: Love by The Cult.
Most of us were introduced to this classic through the undeniable single "She Sells Sanctuary." Despite the many great (and not so great) albums The Cult have released over the past 25 years, Love remains a huge fan favorite. As proof, you need look no further than the recent vinyl reissue from Vinyl 180. The LP has been remastered on heavy-duty 180 gram vinyl, and a bonus twelve-inch single of "She Sells Sanctuary" remixes has been added. All of the original artwork is present, as well as the lyrics, and the whole thing is packaged in a sturdy, gatefold sleeve.
Love kicks off with the rousing choruses of "Nirvana," a big rock tune that should have been a hit. Next we find Billy Duffy's proto-metal guitar leading the charge with the commanding "Big Neon," and "Glitter." The dirge-like tempo of "Brother Wolf, Sister Moon" introduces two of Ian Astbury's lifelong obsessions; Native American mythology, and Jim Morrison. Side one closes with the stylish flourishes of "Rain."
Flip over this weighty slab of plastic and the needle drops on "Phoenix," the group's first coliseum-sized blast of rawk. This song's sound, along with "Hollow Man," would come to dominate on later albums such as Electric and Sonic Temple. On Love though, it is still just part of the mix. The power ballad overtones of "Revolution" follow, and provide a cleansing of the palette before "She Sells Sanctuary." Finally we reach the thoroughly goth-approved "Black Angel," which concludes Love in a suitably dark manner.
On to the bonus twelve-single, which contains three remixed versions of "She Sells Sanctuary." Side A is comprised of the eight-minute "Howling Mix," and features the electronic facsimiles of wolves howling, amidst the added beats. The signature riff of the song is present, but that is about the only familiar aspect to this version. I found the B-side more interesting. The first cut is "Assault On Sanctuary," a very dubbed-out mix of the tune. Next is "Dogstar Radio Mix," which is most like the original, except for the added high beats per minute. As a whole, the twelve-inch is a nice bonus, but primarily of interest to collectors.
The job Beggars Banquet and Vinyl 180 did with Love on this reissue is commendable. I doubt these songs have ever sounded better. For me, this is the one album by The Cult that is a must, and this vinyl reissue is outstanding.