Album of the Week (30/09/2013) – ‘1965’ by The Afghan Whigs (1998)

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Tracklisting:

1. Somethin’ Hot
2. Crazy
3. Uptown Again
4. Sweet Son Of A Bitch
5. 66
6. Cito Soleil
7. John The Baptist
8. The Slide Song
9. Neglekted
10. Omerta
11. The Vampire Lanois

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This year there have been a few bands that have been on very heavy rotation on my stereo.  The Afghan Whigs are one of these bands.  I’ve had Congregation, Gentlemen, and Black Love for a while, but recently got my hands on their 1998 album 1965.  What an album it is – Motown for the alternative generation.  It snaps, fizzes and pops, it grooves, it’s even funky, but above all it rocks – hard.  Greg Dulli’s lyrics pack all the emotional punch of his earlier work, delving into his inner turmoil and twisting it inside out to become possibly the horniest man in rock & roll.  Like Marvin Gaye, this is music to have sex to.  Just check out opener “Somethin’ Hot” if you need more proof that Dulli just wants to get high and get down:

What I really love about this album is the way The Afghan Whigs have used Stevie Wonder-esq keys and female backing vocals on everything, so despite the fact the guitars are heavier and louder, their take on black soul music feels authentic.

Even the horn section in “John The Baptist” never feels out of place, and I usually hate horn sections:

Basically, throughout The Afghan Whigs’ recording career, 1965 is the album they’ve been building towards.  Their earlier Sub Pop albums were typically abrasive and noisy affairs, with only a hint of the soul they would later develop.  Their best known record, Gentlemen, was where the band’s ambition really exploded – utilising melody and groove in ways no other alternative band had done before.  My personal favourite is Black Love, where The Afghan Whigs took a major step towards the soul they would find on 1965.  Dulli’s lyrics on Black Love are incredibly dark, and his fantasies twisted.  It’s both torrid and exhilarating to listen to.

So why have I picked 1965 as album of the week?  Because, unlike anything I’ve heard in recent memory it makes me want to dance.

By Clint Morrow

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