Wednesday, November 02, 2016

FDF Vol 1 Issue 99 - The Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen




by: Dim

Album - Gentlemen
Artist - The Afghan Whigs
Key Players - Greg Dulli (vocals, guitar), Rick McCollum (guitar), John Curley (bass), Steve Earle (drums)
Produced By - Greg Dulli



Release Date - October 5, 1993



What caused me to blow off the dust?
- This might go against what FDF is all about, but this disc NEVER has any dust on it. And if it is in your collection and your copy is dusty...shame on you!

Overview - The Afghan Whigs (not to be confused with the current alterna-rock band called The Whigs) were formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1986 and became the first band not from the Pacific Northwest to sign to the legendary Sub Pop label. Their early work, Up In It and 1992's Congregation were more on the aggressive side in terms of sound and speed. Dulli's love of old school R&B and Motown was really first evident on the Whigs' covers EP, Uptown Avondale and it was this R&B/rock sound that would be heavily showcased on later Whigs offerings, particularly on 1996's Black Love and their swan song, 1965. Between Congregation and Black Love, however, came Gentlemen, a CD that doesn't really fall totally into either the blistering rock of the early releases or the sultry soul noir of the later offerings. The band ultimately split in 2001, citing geographical distances between band members as a reason. The band reunited briefly in 2006 to put together a greatest hits package which included two new tracks.


FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The first taste of the arresting and disturbing nature of the disc comes before you even put the disc in the player. Gentlemen's album art is one of the most jarringly thought-provoking in memory. No text appears at all and you are left to contemplate its ambiguous meaning of its image all before you near a single note. But that first single note you hear isn't a note at all. It's actually the sound of wind which segues into the delicate, yet foreboding "If I Were Going", which serves as a prelude to the twisted tales of addiction of the flesh and of the needle that follow. As the tune fades away, Earle's infectious drum lead to the title track begins, softly at first, until the proper track change. Then, it becomes louder and the band joins in with a swirling, cacophonous sound upon Dulli's verbal cue, "Now!" "Gentlemen", with its ultimate ironic title, is the perfect true opener here. Lyrically and musically (with a great wah-wah-driven solo from McCollum), it showcases a band incredibly ahead of its prior self and its peers of the time. "Be Sweet" follows with some R-rated lyrics from Dulli. The musically sparse verses set the stage again for an amazing noisy chorus from the band. Seemingly taking on the personae of the abusers and the abused throughout the disc, Dulli is a master of controlling the listener's emotions, eliciting sympathy and frustration, often at the same time. "Debonair" then kicks off with a great guitar lead and superb bass accents from Curley. Again, the band's ability to weave jaw-dropping sonic tapestries is in the forefront. Dulli's desperate screams, vacillating between regret and conceit, coupled with the strong band effort makes "Debonair" one of the strongest of a disc that hasn't a single sub-par offering. If the vocal melody sounds familiar, it's because Dulli introduced it, though more sublimely, in "If I Were Going". Dulli continues his mesmirizing lyrics ("Hear me know and don't forget/I'm not the man my actions would suggest") while displaying his narrator's conflict ("I must admit when so inclined/I tend to lose it than confront my mind"). A slide guitar and a more down-tempo Whigs introduce "When We Two Parted" as Dulli's slightly off-key crooning spin further tales of addiction's underbelly amidst some of the albums strongest lyrics ("If I could have only once heard you scream to feel you were alive instead of watching you abandoning yourself"). Another of the strongest of the strong, "Fountain and Fairfax", along with an ultra-cool guitar lead from McCollum, drives the disc further ahead. Not to be under-appreciated here, both Earle and Curley's rhythm section is always on display, but really are the heartbeat of this particular song. The musical interlude is complex and layered (with some strings) and Dulli's lyrics, again, crushing and intense (Angel, I'm sober/I got off that stuff just like you asked me to./Angel, come closer/so the stink of your lies sinks into my memory). A piano drives "What Jail Is Like", which would make you incorrectly anticipate a reprieve from the heavy subject matter. But the band continues to hit home run after home run musically here, as Dulli howls more fantastic lyrics ("You think I'm proud of this/well maybe, but the shame you never lose/Infatuated with a lunatic/and cornered by the muse). "My Curse" kicks off with a lazy acoustic guitar before guest vocalist Marcy Mays' warble picks up the power where Dulli last left off. The band, for the nth time, masters the whole soft/loud/soft/loud thing gradually building the mood before delivering the apex in dramatic fashion. The disc winds down with a straight-out sinister rocker, "Now You Know", complete with insane drumming from Earle and great fretwork from McCollum (more great lyrics: Since you're aware of the consequences/I can pimp what's left of this wreck on you/Bit into a rotten one now didn't you/Now I can watch you chew) and the methodically and pretty ballad "I Keep Coming Back", which is actually a soul cover originally done by Tyrone Davies and, surprisingly, doesn't sound a bit out of place on this borderline concept album. Closing the disc, oddly enough, is an instrumental called "Brother Woodrow (Closing Prayer)". Deeply complex and bewildering (a concept album about addiction closes with a soul cover and an instrumental?!), it is a fine end as it perfectly demonstrates the abilities and maturities of the band as a whole. As the last notes of "Woodrow" fade away, you are literally spent. And all from listening to a record.

Where are they now? - Greg Dulli has remained very busy since the demise of the Whigs, making guest appearances on many records and forming and remaining active in the R&B-infused Twilight Singers in 2000. That excellent band has released four discs and two EPs since then. Dulli also released a solo disc, Amber Headlights, in 2005. He currently is a member of the Gutter Twins (along with Mark Lanegan). Their Saturnalia CD came out earlier this year.

John Curley currently plays bass for the Staggering Statistics. Rick McCollum is the main man in Moon Maan and Steve Earle has gotten out from behind the kit to front the band Earle Grey.


FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I managed to see the Afghan Whigs twice on the tour for their final album, 1965. Both shows were at the Paradise in Boston. The first was Nov. 6, 1998 and the last was about three months later, on February 14, 1999. Greg Dulli is an amazingly electric front man and the band was super-tight both times. Though a little light on "Gentlemen" tunes, the setlists were great, with a powerful rendition of "My Curse" one of many highlights. Definitely an outstanding live experience.

FDF Overall Take - Not to sound like a whack job, but I must have listened to this disc a thousand times over and, in reviewing it for this, I literally got chills during the songs. The lyrics are nothing short of brilliantly disturbed poetry and the music is so utterly fulfilling and textured, it is nothing short of perfect. The Afghan Whigs' Gentlemen is truly an iconic offering not just for the alterna-rock era of the 90s, but for the entire modern music era. It's ability to be disturbingly beautiful as well as raucous and sinister makes for a conflicting and sometimes challenging listen, if only for the emotions it stirs up. But calling this one of the best 10 discs of the thousands I own is nothing short of the truth. And calling it a vitally important disc in the annals of modern music is absolutely no hyperbole.


Check out some Music

***all mp3's have been removed***

Gentlemen
Debonair
When We Two Parted
Fountain and Fairfax

All the tracks were taken from "Gentlemen" which you can buy here

**BONUS DOWNLOAD**

Afghan Whigs
Zimba Espace Club, Milan, Italy
January 30, 1994


MP3s have been removed.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mike Peters (The Alarm) live show review

So, even if I am not as able to write as much as I'd like I am seeing shows.

Mike Peters of the Alarm put on a great show a few weeks back here in my area.

  If you so desire...

Monday, February 01, 2016

Let's refocus...

So I had this revelation the other day.  I thought about how I missed writing about the music that I liked so much.  It had become a chore though.  Always looking for content then putting aside the time to give it the listen, the writing about it. After that, research some, add more content etc.

I was "customer free" for much of January and I sat at my desk with headphones on. I listened to a LOT of new music.  Stuff I had bought that sat in shrink wrap was finally opened.  Still I dusted off a few things as the mood struck.

What I think I'll do is just go short burst reviews, thoughts.  Maybe I went to see the band on that tour.  Still talk about the highs and lows of the record, but maybe not be so "in depth" about things.  Just to get me back in the groove?

Sound cool?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A year end how do you do...

Hello.

Considering its been a few months since I last apologized for lack of content I guess the end of the year is just as good a time to apologize once more.

The new job (well now 8 months in) doesn't allow for much "listening at work".  Its not "the man" bearing down on me, its just I teach a class, pretty much every single day I am at work.  Listening to music, at least there, is really on the back burner.  I'd love to post more, and hope I can.  Perhaps I need to go to that really "abridged" version I'd always thought about.  Sort of a "here is one I dusted off a week or so ago..and wow its still really great".   I'd add more to it of course, at least to keep it somewhat interesting.

The year is coming to a close..amazing its been just about nine months since the blog had an update with substance.

I apprecaite you stopping by.

-march

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Update

Well a few months have passed and things are starting to settle in.  I think the goal would be to
have a new post up in early August.

Still need some time to settle in. In a lot of seminars and meetings so the really focused listening has suffered.

Appreciate you stopping by and hope to have some content shortly!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Some change(s)

Greetings fair reader(s):

Some big changes have occurred on my end.  After 20 years with a particular company I've decided to resign.  I have moved on to a new adventure and I am not sure, at least at the outset, where that will leave me with as much time to listen and write.  I'll always listen, but putting everything down on the blog might be hard.

Gotta put the feelers out..see if I can even listen to music at work (that too might take time as I "break in").

Still...I try my best to get things up here from time to time.

As always I appreciate you stopping by.

- march

Friday, March 27, 2015

FDF Volume 3 Issue 366 - Silverchair - Freakshow



Album – Freak Show
Artist - Silverchair
Key Players – Chris Joannou – bass. Ben Gillies – drums. Daniel Johns – guitar, vocals.
Produced By – Nick Launay

Release Date – February 3, 1997

Overview - After the massive success of “Frogstomp” the band released this follow up. It was written even while the band was riding the wave of success and they chose to go a bit darker. It was met with positive reviews and the band launched a tour. They'd go on to release three more studio albums before deciding to take a break.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The 13 track 49 minute album opens with “Slave” and fans that liked the bands debut are quickly assured things would be the same. The power trio has a heavy, sludge sound on the opening track with start/stop drums and a swampy bass and guitar. “Freak” continues with the big sound and was released as a single from the record. Another single from the record was “Abuse Me” a track that starts off with a more phased out psychedelic guitar. Its a bit more laid back that the prior two songs and Johns has a voice fit for the role. “Lie to Me” has a punk rock romp to it and changes gears for the band which is a nice touch. “No Association” give Joannou a moment up front as he and Gillies build things up. Johns has hushed and dark vocals before he shouts and the band crashes in. It a record that is a slice in time for this era for sure. “Cemetery” was another single that was the “acoustic” side of the band. Typical of the time to show the bands diversity. Its an okay enough song. “The Door” was a song that grabbed me from the very start of this record. Sort of a sitar type sound opening the record, but it just has a tight rowdy groove to it and Johns sounds comfortable with his range. “Pop Song for Us Rejects” is a more acoustic based track that has a campfire sing along element to it. The band uses some strings again to fill in the sound as well, but then stomp on pedals and make everything loud again, which is fine. “Petrol and Chlorine” has the band in full rage mode and they change gears again for “Roses”. The whole record ends strong with a mixture of the heavy to light. Perhaps a bit too often, but overall its a solid vibe.

Where are they now? - The band is currently on an “indefinite hibernation”. The band hasn't ruled out working together but have spun off on various projects and solo efforts.

FDF Overall Take/Was it worth Dusting Off?
It might not have aged the best but its not terrible. These were young kids sort of thrust in to stardom and they turned out okay. A few singles here and there are worthy of your time if you like the straight up rock sound. Dust it off and smile once more, you probably have one of their records in your collection.

Links, find out more, follow em and buy!




Disclaimer – I am just a music fan. Feel free to comment about something that may be written incorrectly about the band/members etc. I strive to have a fun and enjoyable site. This site used to post mp3s but ran in to many issues. The audio clips provided are usually from YouTube. No copy write infringement is intended. Please alert me if something should be pulled. Finally, support the artist featured, or your favorite artist by purchasing their music, seeing their shows if possible and saying hi. They need your support.