Clash Music – Afghan Whigs Tribute Review
Although they made five critically acclaimed and genre-defying albums, Cincinnati’s Afghan Whigs were another one of those bands that never received the widespread adoration they deserved.
Too soulful and cinematic to ride the coattails of grunge, Greg Dulli and his band eventually split up in 2001 leaving a collection of raw, sexy and sinister music behind, only for critics to retrospectively slot them into Top 100 lists. Now the website dedicated to the Whigs and their subsequent musical projects has put together this tribute compilation.
‘Gentlemen’ was their breakthrough album in 1993 but four of the 13 tracks here are taken from the final most soulful, swaggering record, ‘1965’. New York’s Mighty Fine bring a touch of Prince to their funky version of ‘Somethin’ Hot’, while Sonny Oaks find new dynamics in ‘Uptown Again’. But so much of Dulli’s devilish, cocksure personality was in the delivery of lines such as “I got the devil in me girl” or “I got a dick for a brain / and my brain is gonna sell my ass to you” that it’s hard to hear someone else sing it convincingly. Curiously, Susan Marshall’s honey-coated effort leaves you wishing there were more female interpretations of Dulli’s playboy words.
Dulli’s good friends and the two biggest names on the album – Mark Lanegan and Joseph Arthur – do justice to their respective songs. Arthur delivers a sublime version of the woozy ‘Step Into The Light’, while Lanegan uses his sinister persona to full effect on the ominous ‘Tonight’. Growling “Come outside and play with me,” he mischievously ends the song ad-libbing: “Scared you, didn’t I?”
Revisiting the ‘Whigs deep, potent melodies is a tough but pleasurable task for any band and hopefully the renewed interest will inspire others to imbue their rock with a little more danger and a little more soul.
Words: Lianne Steinberg