Friday, July 23, 2010

Holy Barbarians: Cream (1996)

(As published in B-Side ... )

Holy Barbarian

When last seen, Ian Astbury was leading a rapidly dwindling Cult cult into a psychedelic, heavy-metal wilderness from which he didn't seem likely to return any time soon. But miracles do happen, and if Cream, the debut outing from Astbury's new cult, Holy Barbarian, doesn't find Astbury completely back in touch with his roots, it still has moments of such down-and-dirty T. Rexiness that you'd swear the spirit of Marc Bolan had finally found a body suitable for possession. Chief among these moments is “Space Junkie,” a raunchy slice of sci-fi glam that owes as much to the Davids Johansen and Bowie as to Bolan. And there are others: the title cut, for instance, in which Astbury and his guitarist Patrick Sugg sing like all the young dudes, and “You Are There,” in which Astbury borrows the melody of “Like a Hurricane” for the chorus, swipes a line from Abba's “Does Your Mother Know” for the bridge, and makes some pretty awful lyrics tolerable for at least half of the song's five minutes. Alas, pretty awful lyrics have long been the bane of Astbury's songs, and “Bodhisattva” and “Opium” hit new lows with a thud. Don't be surprised, however, if this really takes off in non-English-speaking lands.

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