1965 – Live Wire
If Greg Dulli weren’t up on stage, he’d probably be the wrong guy to bump into in the audience. His slovenly soul always seems to draw an inexplicable link between Iggy Pop and Marvin Gaye: he’ll incite you into looking at him wrong just so he can throw some drunken punches, yet he has a pocket full of come-ons that will melt your girlfriend like buttah.
Back when the Afghan Whigs were still most versed in dissonance, Dulli was all attitude. There was nothing smooth about the bad- amped Motown of Up In It. Even “Rebirth of Cool,” the exceptional tribute to Miles Davis from Congregation, was more a sneering wake than a tearjerking ode. Regardless, Dulli’s heart was definitely laid bare.
On 1965, the Afghan Whigs continue down the back alley they found on 1996’s Black Love. Dulli creates for himself an urban world of long shadows and cracked sidewalks, then pronounces himself King. And while, as far as kings go, Dulli makes for more of a party- animal than a British oppressor, he always gets his girl at the end of the day.
“I got your phone number, baby/ I’ll call you some time/ I think I might go out tonight/ Maybe give you a ride” is how Dulli opens “Something Hot” amid raspy guitar riffs, a roadhouse piano and backup singers. It’s overproduced and cliche, but you take notes anyway, ’cause– let’s face it– the guy’s been around. “Neglekted” sounds like sex from pickup (“I knew a girl, extraordinary/ Suggested something, unsanitary”) to post- coital cigarette, and “Crazy” sounds like a house party after everyone except your closest, drunkest friends have left.
And finally, “Citi Soleil” plays like the song the Afghan Whigs have always been looking for: Dulli’s “Ooh child, I’ll meet you child/ On the sunny side, it’s alright, it’s alright” chorus rises up from his gut as Rick McCollum sits on the feedback pedal– but only after John Curley picks out a gentile French melody on acoustic guitar. It’s good and bad, black and white, inner city and continental all rolled into one hogleg of a song. It gives you the feeling that 1965 was a pretty good year, if it’s anything like the Afghan Whigs paint it.