The Cult breaks through with Love!

The Cult - Love poster (

The Cult – Love poster (fltr: Billy Duffy, Jamie Stewart, Ian Astbury, Les Warner)


In 1985 Love was released, the album that put The Cult on the map, firmly helped by the success of the classic She Sells Sanctuary.

The Cult

In 1981 singer and song writer Ian Astbury started the band Southern Death Cult. It wasn’t before long that the band signed to a sub label of Beggars Banquet Records and the single Moya was released. The band and their music were well received and the band went on tour, at times with Bauhaus and Theatre Of Hate. Until the band suddenly called it quits in February 1983. Exit Southern Death Cult.

In April 1983 Astbury started a new band, Death Cult, with guitar player Billy Duffy. Complemented with bass player Jamie Stewart and drummer Raymond Taylor Smith the Death Cult EP was released in July 1983. In September drummer Nigel Preston was added to the band, one month later followed by the single Gods Zoo. Just moments before a performance on the English live music TV show The Tube the band name was changed to The Cult.

The Cult - Dreamtime (

The Cult – Dreamtime

On April 4th, 1984, the single Spiritwalker was released, which ultimately ended up on the first position of the “independent” charts in the UK. After the release of second single Go West (Crazy Spinning Circles) The Cult’s debut album, Dreamtime, was released on September 10th, 1984. Following success in the UK, the album was also released outisde of the UK. In December a new single was recorded and released, Resurrection Joe.

On May 17th, 1985, the fourth single was released, the majestic She Sells Sanctuary, as a precursor to the upcoming album the band was recording. The producer was quite remarkable, Steve Brown, primarily known for his work with Wham! The band was both irritated and amused by the choice (the band had been rooting for Steve Lillywhite), but something clicked and they got off to a very fine start with their first outing.

The Cult - Love (

The Cult – Love


In July and August of 1985 the second album by The Cult was recorded. Drummer Preston had been replaced by Mark Brzezicki. On October 18th, 1985, Love, was released. Where the first album followed the rules of post-punk and new-wave rather closely, the new music leaned more towards ‘ordinary’ rock music. Psychedelica entered the sound as well. The love for Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and The Doors was professed openly. That didn’t go down too well within the post-punk, new-wave scene, which by that time was still infested with the idea that all music made prior to 1976 was contaminated. The anti-hippie idiom was still too fresh, Astbury later even claimed to having been molested by music lovers, because of the fact that She Sells Sanctuary was a hit…

Well, was the album so controversial, so different and so ‘commercial’? Certainly not, but sectarianism was omni-present at the time, and cross-over equaled sell-out. An interesting subject for another article perhaps.


Anyway, what the band brought to the table with Love was impressive. Psychedelic (hard?)rock mixed with new-wave, goth and catchy melodies. A cocktail of styles that was hard to resist. Duffy’s guitar playing is fresh and the compositions are all equally strong. The opener Nirvana essentially summarizes the rest, a firm rock sound, great vocals and guitar work and, let’s not forget, a fantastic rhythm section. The flow of the album is perfect and is superbly balanced. Of course, producer Brown was well aware how to make a hit album and The Cult knew how to write songs, it’s the combination of both worlds that made The Cult rise above itself and made Love one of the best rock albums of the 1980s.

The Cult - Love - The singles (

The Cult – Love – The singles


Three singles were culled from the Love album:

  • She Sells Sanctuary
    (released on May, 17th, 1985)
  • Rain
    (released on September 27th,1985)
  • Revolution
    (released on November 22nd, 1985)


All songs written by Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy.

  • Nirvana
  • The Big Neon Glitter
  • Love
  • Brother Wolf; Sister Moon
  • Rain
  • The Phoenix
  • The Hollow Man
  • Revolution
  • She Sells Sanctuary
  • Black Angel

Many European, Canadian and Australian CD pressings contained two bonus songs: Little Face en Judith.

The Cult - Love Omnibus Edition (

The Cult – Love Omnibus Edition

In August 2009 Love was re-released, remastered with extra recordings, mixes and demos. The most elaborate release was the Omnibus Edition. The second disc contained extended versions and remixes of albums songs and B-sides. The third disc contained demos and the fourth a live show, recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on October 31st, 1985.


The Cult:

  • Ian Astbury – vocals and background vocals
  • Billy Duffy – guitar and background vocals
  • Jamie Stewart – bass and background vocals

Supplemented with:

  • Mark Brzezicki – drums, except on She Sells Sanctuary
  • Simon Kliney – Fairlight
  • Nigel Preston – drums on She Sells Sanctuary
  • The Soultanas (Mae McKenna, Lorenza Johnson, Jackie Challenor) – background vocals on Rain, Revolution and The Phoenix
The Cult - Billy Duffy - Live Pinkpop 05/29/1986 (

The Cult – Billy Duffy – Live Pinkpop 05/29/1986

After Love

Following the release of Love the band, who was up to drummer no. 4 (Les Warner) by now, went on tour, which brought the band to the Dutch pop festival Pinkpop in 1986, the first time I saw the band play live. A fine show, during which many new songs were played that would end up on the next album Electric.

In the summer of 1986 the band went to work on the sequel. See the article The Manor Sessions: The Cult travels from Love through Peace to Electric. It would eventually lead to the album Electric, which was preceded by the great single Love Removal Machine in February 1987.

From here on out, the band’s line-up would change continually, drummers and bass players came (back) and went, but the central duo of Astbury and Duffy would remain the heart of The Cult. In April 1989 the fourth Cult album Sonic Temple was released, which is regarded as their best by many. Once again, a huge success. In September 1991 Ceremony was released. The album was a disappointment, artistically as well as commercially.

In February 1993 the first compilation Pure Cult: For Rockers, Ravers, Lovers, And Sinners was released. Contrary to Astbury and Duffy’s expectations, the album was a huge seller, so the band with followed it up with a long European tour. In October 1994 the album The Cult was released, which wasn’t successful. Midway through the subsequent tour The Cult disbanded in 1995.

In 1999 Astbury and Duffy reconvened and went on tour, which eventually led to a new album, Beyond Good And Evil, which was released in June 2001. It wasn’t successful, selling around 500,000 copies (worldwide). After the European tour was canceled (due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks) and the American tour, with Aerosmith, was badly received, the band quit once again.

Yet, the band reconvened again in 2006, resulting in the album Born Into This in October 2007. The album was well received and sold better than its predecessor. In 2008 the band announced the Love Live Tour, a tour celebrating Love. The tour was a huge success.

In May 2012 the album Choice Of Weapon was released, followed by Hidden City in February 2016. On August 15th, 2020, Duffy said the band was recording a new album at the Rockfield Studios, the same studio where the band had recorded their debut Dreamtime 36 years earlier.

The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary & Love - Gold records (

The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary & Love – Gold records

In closing

What do you think about The Cult and Love in particular? Let me know!

This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: The Cult breaks through with Love!. The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.

Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!