Dreamtime oozes with mysticism and spirituality, and combines these themes with awesome hard rock/gothic guitar riffs by Billy Duffy. The songs have a spooky edge, unlike later Cult albums, which were basically jock-rock headbanging disappointments. You can tell which fans prefer the early Cult and which prefer the later Cult at any concert they give. The early fans look like British goths who are into Siouxsie and the later fans of Electric look like they rock to Winger or Dokken. This album still makes my hairs stand on end because it is that good.
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For those who catch the reference, I think you know where I’m headed. There was a time, about 20 years or so ago, when British music was struggling with two very different and original approaches to modern music: Punk and Gothic. Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy both cut their teeth in the Gothic movement, as evidenced by the collaboration titled Death Cult which preceded DREAMTIME.But Dreamtime is more than just a gothic rock album, and if you ever dug your fingernails into your legs listening to Bauhaus’”In the Flat Field” , this album is worth the time.For me (with the exception of their last effort simply titled “The Cult”) I have never been disappointed by the team of Astbury/Duffy. They flavoreed Goth with a progressive style that came screaming out of “Love”, hit hard and heavy and utterly raw with “Electric”, blew every other over-produced outfit out of their socks with “Sonic Temple” and brought a lot of those flavors together in a strange, but satisfying concoction called “Ceremony”.But this album, “Dreamtime”, is where it all started to gel…where the beginnings of true modern rock and the culmination of gothic rock meet in a sometimes tentative but always satisfying blend.And if Bauhaus can become Peter Murphy and Love & Rockets, who the heck says these guys can’t change…No artist makes their music for the listener alone, first they make it for themselves…if you can dig it when they’re done…hey, that’s like a bonus!And man…even after 20 or so years of following them from Theater of Hate and Southern Death Cult, to their breakup in the mid 90’s, I still dig it all.Especially Dreamtime…Now if Amazon would only carry the ‘Dreamtime: Live at the Lyceum’ CD/VHS set, you folks would get a REAL thrill…seeing these guys perform this stuff (and a few other surprises, like Resurrection Joe!) in all their 80’s rat-tailed glory.Gotta love it!
Alright I don’t know what that last reviewer was thinking, but this album is by far the best album “The Cult” ever did. I’m also a big fan of “Love” but everything after sort of lost me (with the exception of an occasional song). Actually I was fortunate enough to find it on cassette. The cassette version has the album on side 1, and the Live album on side 2. So you get a good dose of Death Cult, Southern Death Cults most famous song (Moyah) as well as the song from Dreamtime that isn’t on the album (Bonebag). Now the way I explain this album to someone who’s never heard it before is… Picture an “Apache” warrior tripping out on Peyote in the middle of a field during a midnight drizzle, hehe. Songs such as “83rd Dream” (my favorite track) and “Horse Nation” really show that illustration… “Four crows nailed to a wood post” and other disturbingly Beautifull quotes are what make this album the “Dark Mystical Masterpiece” it is. As well as the full on attack of Billy Duffy guitars, Nigel Prestons frantic drums (which at most times in the album remind me of tom toms) Not to mention Ian Astbury’s Wailing vocals. But lets not forget Jamie Stewarts excellent Bass. Yes this is the premiere album for a taste of what the Post-PunkGothDeathrock scene was like in early 80’s england.
The debut album by the Cult (although they’d released an EP and a single prior to this under the name Death Cult collected, along with some BBC sessions) as “Ghost Dance”), “Dreamtime” is an album that is noticably overlooked, likely because the band would reach enormous heights, both creatively and commercially, with their few albums, but “Dreamtime” should be evaluated for what it is– a great record.
The Cult was formed when Ian Astbury, vocalist for the Southern Death Cult, determined to pursue a direction away from the gothic sound of that band and formed a group with Theatre of Hate guitarist Billy Duffy. Astbury, a singer of enormous presence, dominated the Southern Death Cult to the point where the band felt lopsided. But in Duffy, Astbury found a performer of equally strong personality and a foil. Recruiting guitarist Jamie Stewart on bass and eventually settling on drummer Nigel Preston, the group recorded first under the name Death Cult before shortening it to the Cult to deter the gothic connotations.
“Dreamtime” is, however seeped in gothic and post-punk influences, even if it does manage to get past them as much as it embraces them– single “Spiritwalker” is probably the best example of this– a glittering, aggressive track with a great riff reminiscent of the sort of work the gothic acts were doing but avoiding any sense of lifelessness and a vocal soaked in swagger by Astbury, the song is a summation of everything they’d done up until now and yet a pointer to the future. But while it was the only piece to garner any real attention as a single, there are a number of fantastic pieces on here– the pounding, tribal rhythm-infused “Horse Nation” (also recorded on the “Ghost Dance” EP), the churning, driven, almost reggaeish “Go West”, and the very much updated Southern Death Cult piece “A Flower in the Desert” (here presented as a swirling slice of goth with a muscular guitar line). Still, the album seems to fizzle a bit towards the end with the last few tracks being less memorable (“Rider in the Snow”) or just plain bizarre (the galloping pop rhythms of the title track).
“Dreamtime” was reissued and remastered in Japan as a double with the “Live at the Lyceum” album– the sonic improvement on this rerelease is well worth the price upgrade, and the Lyceum show is a great listen.
Bottom line– “Dreamtime” gets overlooked and it shouldn’t. This is an album that deserves more attention, recommended.
This is, in my opinion, a true masterpiece. The 80s is often criticized as being over-produced, sythetic and shallow. Like U2, the Cult had much more to offer. “Dreamtime” is a fantastic fusion of gothic punk walking hand-in-hand with Jim Morrison-ish imagery and influence. Eventually Led Zeppelin could be heard in the Cult’s sound more than the Doors, but “Dreamtime” and “Love” envoke a unique-for-the-80s combination of lyrical mysticism and spiritual passion with an insurgent rythmn and sonic punch. Songs like “Spiritwalker” and “Horse Nation” drive forth the mystic imagery with a rocking groove, while the darker songs like “Butterflies” and “Bone Bag” have a darker edge that has as much to lend to Nick Drake as it does to Nick Cave. This is a phenomenal and, at least in the States, unfortunately underappreciated milestone in the Cult’s career. The Cult were, are, and shall be a solid band and influence on new bands for years to come.