People who don't like this album are going to say it's haunted. There are enough ghosts floating around the grooves to crowd Jimi Hendrix's old studio, Electric Lady (where, not coincidentally, this was recorded). But despite the hovering shades of Zeppelin, Bon Scott and others, Electric does more than pilfer bygone metal mayhem. It swaggers, crunches and howls, all right, but it does so with irreverence (not surprising with raunch expert Rick Rubin behind the board). You can bet it's no accident, for example, that the album's one cover tune is the track whose lyric made the phrase "heavy metal" part of the public's vocabulary Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild." Suitably, Ian Astbury sings it as if he'd just gargled with acid take your pick which kind.
This record could've been unbearably heavy-handed. But lovingly snide pranks like the snaky guitar riff in "Aphrodisiac Jacket" and Astbury's onomatopoeic sound effect on the words "cool operator with a rattlesnake kiss," in "Memphis Hip Shake," give Electric a wry humor that keeps it from drowning in self-indulgence. Granted, there are moments when you wish that Billy Duffy didn't want quite so badly to be a guitar god and that Astbury would expand his lyrics beyond trippy love rites and oblique allegories, but this album isn't the Cult raising ghosts; it's just the Cult raising a little Cain. (RS 503)
ROBIN J. SCHWARTZ
(Posted: Jul 2, 1987)
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