Unbreakable – Louisville Courier-Journal
By Jeffrey Lee Puckett
Greg Dulli didn’t just wear his heart on his sleeve when leading the Afghan Whigs. He nailed it to his forearm with a railroad spike and then walked down the street, shoving it in stranger’s faces. He didn’t whine about his nail-driven heart, either; he was pissed off, and made sure you heard — and felt — every bloody detail.
Cincinnati’s Afghan Whigs are considered by many one of the finest bands of the 1990s, and also one that never quite got its due. Dulli, John Curley, Rick McCollum and Steve Earle unleashed a decade’s worth of dark rock ‘n’ roll splashed with even darker soul, all of it informed by Dulli’s torrential anger and disappointment at himself and the world.
What the Afghan Whigs did exceedingly well was create an atmosphere that was pure Whigs and purely distinctive. The band recorded for Seattle’s Sub-Pop Records alongside Nirvana and made music that was equally powerful, with hooks as big as any that Kurt Cobain crafted. But the Whigs never made the leap to commercial success. Maybe Dulli was ultimately too scary for the masses.
“Unbreakable: A Retrospective 1990-2006” is the first Whigs compilation and it’s a solid, if brief, reminder of their legacy. Two unreleased songs, recorded specifically for this collection, manage to hang with the classics, but it’s the vintage material that thrills, from the blistering “Retarded” to the epic “Crime Scene Part One.” This was Afghan Whigs at their conflicted best, cathartic without the emotional cleansing, uplifting even as Dulli dragged you down.