Vernon has always been a favorite of mine. I love the attitude in his playing. Cult is like years of rage being unleashed in a guitar solo. Never understood the dislike for him from the shred crowd. There's more than one way to cut a good solo.
Another funky/groovy band I always listen to in the summertime is a band called White Trash. They had a self titled album and a second album a few years later called Si? O Si, Que? that were both awesome. The first album had a killer horn section called the Badass Brass on it. Nothing like Living Colour (White Trash is more like GnR meets James Brown), but funky and greasy cool, nonetheless.
Yes, the Cult solo... great description! I've always loved the song and I can hear the solo in my head. Furiously abrasive, kinda like the "sheets of sound" approach but on electric guitar.
You can definitely hear Coltrane/Sharrock/Rashaan Roland Kirk in there.
I've loved Vern's playing from day one precisely because he pulled in these disparate influences and then cranked them through a smokin' amp. Big influence on me for that alone -- taught me to keep my ears open.
In interviews over the years Reid also got me to pay attention to Ornette Coleman, Sonny Sharrock, James Blood Ulmer, and Carlos Santana -- and to listen to Bad Brains with fresh ears. I'd go so far as to credit him with some of my continuing musical education.