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Baker's Dozen

Love Approval Thirteen: Ian Astbury Of The Cult's Favourite Albums
Julian Marszalek , May 30th, 2012 19:04

Julian Marszalek speaks to the Wolf Child about esoteric drone doom, witch house, krautrock and, of course, The Doors

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Say what you like about Ian Astbury – and, indeed, many people do – but first and foremost The Cult frontman is a serious music fan. For him, music isn’t something that’s simply played in the background; it’s an art form that’s at the very centre of our culture. At its best, it has the ability to not only reflect the culture that spawned it but also alter it. For Astbury, this is some serious shit and the task of discussing his 13 favourite albums is one that the singer approaches with no small degree of seriousness. That’s probably why it’s taken him nearly two weeks to get a list together that he’s relatively happy with.

“Doing this list was virtually impossible for me,” he tells The Quietus from his Californian home. “You’re wanting just 13 albums and I’m like, ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ So I just looked at what records I’ve been listening to recently and tried not to over-think it. You know, don’t try to be fucking clever or try to impress or whatever.”

Musing over his final choices, Astbury is at pains to point out that they could, and probably will, change tomorrow: “And of course, my favourites change from day to day; you go through a break up and you end up listening to Harry Nilsson or you have a nostalgic moment so you go and listen to the Sex Pistols. And that’s one of the beautiful things about music. Everyone has a soundtrack for their life. At least, I know I do. I have certain songs that go with a certain sentiment. It’s not one-size-fits-all.”

For the two hours or so that Astbury spends enthusing about his favourite recordings and taking conversational detours for some further off-roading, The Quietus is struck by Astbury’s passion and sincere love for the music that inspires him.

This love of his favourite music and the seriousness with which he approaches it is in evidence on The Cult’s latest album, Choice Of Weapon. While other artists of a similar vintage pray for a “best album since [insert name of last solid gold classic here]” tag to be associated with that release, The Cult can take pride that their ninth studio album is their finest record to date. Lean and muscular, Choice Of Weapon goes straight for the jugular and refuses to loosen its grip throughout. With Astbury in fine voice throughout, guitarist Billy Duffy has summoned up a veritable arsenal of riffs and more hooks than a mountaineer’s tool bag.

Astbury thinks so too but is only too aware of the suspicion cast in his direction: “I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. I understand that people might be reticent about it. They’re like, ‘What are we going to get here? Cowboy hats and leather trousers? Wolfchild barking-mad-one-teepee-short-of-a reservation’ and all that.

“This time round we got [producer] Chris Goss in the room and by doing that I knew immediately that he’d be our conscience. He would help us to get rid of all our bad habits or whatever stuff we’ve got going on and immediately get into the material.”

Not carrying an ounce of flab, Choice Of Weapon does its job and refuses to hang around like a bad smell. “I fucking hate records that go on for more than nine tracks because a trip can only be a certain length,” Astbury states. “There’s no need for the additional add-ons and less is more. It’s about quality not quantity. Somehow we all got caught up in formatting – here’s 60, 70 minutes on a CD, let’s fill it up. No, let’s go in there and put down our story.”

He concludes: “I’m a fucking music fan. I’m really into and we’re going to go out and tour it. We have no expectations and we have no entitlement.”

Choice Of Weapon is out now. Click on the photograph below to start reading Ian's choices

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SOMA
May 30, 2012 8:09am

Fuckin dude, that man

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Al
May 30, 2012 9:14am

"Love" by The Cult would certainly be in my top 10 albums, if not in the top 3.

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pete keeley
May 30, 2012 9:18am

the wrong PIL album is listed,it says first edition while pictured and talked about is Flowers Of Romance

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Madt
May 30, 2012 9:36am

Thanks Ian. Thanks Quietus. Another great 13.

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Grimm
May 30, 2012 9:57am

i really like the new record.

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AvAn
May 30, 2012 11:07am

Im no Cult fan but that is one of the best Baker's Dozen, Astbury's comments are dead insightful, get him to write a column!

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Enkeling
May 30, 2012 2:51pm

Just wanted to say that I hugely enjoy this Baker’s Dozen series. Fantastic reads, all of them. Thanks!

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May 30, 2012 5:21pm

Anyone who acknowledges the brilliance of BJM is OK in my book!

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May 30, 2012 5:40pm

Ian came off really well here; the music was never that interesting to me but it's cool to see he's really listening. Compare to this to the horrific Butch Vig list from yesterday... Cult >>>>>>> Garbage & U2 combined!!!

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S
May 30, 2012 7:24pm

:D

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S
May 30, 2012 7:24pm

:D

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S
May 30, 2012 7:24pm

:D

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Mark
May 30, 2012 8:18pm

Never been a Cult fan...but give Ian his due, he's clearly very well listened and devoted to his artform, and there's some superb selections here that he's put great cases for. Perhaps I'll have to give them another chance.

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James Moore Stevens
May 30, 2012 11:39pm

Title of the year and I should know because I work in a seashell sanctuary

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Jim
May 31, 2012 2:40am

In reply to AvAn:

WORD!! Was A Southern Death Cult fan many years back and have had little interest in Astbury's subsequent output but always reckoned he was in the know. Getting him to write a column wouldnt be a bad idea, he has the knowledge and passion and he can express himself (more than you can say for most interweb music journalism)

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Apop
May 31, 2012 3:53pm

God bless Mr. Astbury, this man is a true music fan and i'd happily listen to him riff on music any time, anywhere, and for however long. I don't own a Cult record but he's always come off as genuine and an original. Thank you, sir, and thank you Quietus.

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Eugene Montpelier
May 31, 2012 10:11pm

Thought I'd find this unbearable but anyone who can go from talking about Lou reed's Berlin to rambling about ayahuasca ceremonies in the same paragraph is alright in my book.

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anton newcombe
Jun 1, 2012 9:55am

Ian is solid and so is the quietus.

well done.

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Veni Vitaljić
Jul 23, 2012 8:32am

Ian is such a fantastic man and artist, so deep, powerfull. I adore him, his voice, his music, and everything about him. His interwievs are allways breathtaking.

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Dolores
Sep 27, 2012 5:04pm

In reply to Mark:

Hi Mark. Try Love, Electric or Sonic Temple first off. You gotta love those riffs and melodies! ;) I would also recommend Dreamtime. Oh heck, why not listen to Born Into This too?
Great interview, Quietus, what a fantastic selection of albums Ian chose ( i have quite a few on the list)
Good to see the love here for The Cult. Such an underrated band, they deserve more credit.
Yeah, i agree bout Ian havin' a regular column...he's full of opinions and has lived quite a life, and has many years experience in the music biz...you really couldn't ask for a better music critic heh!

I have to say that the gig they just did over here in London (september 16th) has left me on such a high I AM STILL BUZZING OFF OF IT and can't stop raving bout the band.

Glad i got to finally see them before i shuffle off this mortal coil.

Keep rockin hard!

Dolores (aka Slightly Unkempt Wildflower)
Soundcloud.com/Dolores-3
Myspace.com/foxyladydee
Lastfm (Nohiddenpath)

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zheng lulin
Oct 17, 2012 8:27am

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zheng lulin
Oct 17, 2012 8:27am

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maria João
Nov 8, 2012 3:53pm

In reply to Veni Vitaljić:

IAN is so solid and beautiful

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Tim Barlow
Nov 14, 2012 2:22pm

Not a bad list, but really I'm just doing this cos I want to get the weekly newsletter!

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Jeremy
Jan 27, 2013 6:33pm

I find it hard to pick just one favorite Bowie album too.

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