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1965 - Alternative Press

Date: 10.01.98
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Rating: Thumbs Up (Enthusiastically Endorsed)

Lock up anything that moves Ė itís the Afghan Whigs.

"You can fuck my body, baby. But please, donít fuck my mind." There it is, up front Ė the lyric, I wager, that every review of 1965 will cite. And Iím sure Whigs mainman Greg Dulli would back that bet. Cheap? Calculated? Sure, but on an a lbum that repeatedly solicits the question: "What? Does Dulli really believe heís the hot stuff the ladies canít get enough of?" The line from "Sylvia" responds like a diamond bullet to foreheads and funny bones.

Though Iím sure some ladies (and gentlemen) will disagree, Mr. Hot Dick Ė when played, uh, straight Ė was not one of Dulliís more convincing personas. When his literate bad-boy routine was cut with a genuine-sounding wounded quality on Congregation and Gentlemen, empathetic souls of both genders lined up for repeated servings. On 1965, real heartache has been replaced, for the most part, with a playfulness between the sheets Ė or, more accurately, in the bathroom to where Dulli beckons in a whis per during the intro to "Something Hot." Which is fine. However universal the Whigsí first two albums were (letís forget 1996ís ambitious jape, Black Love), 1965 shows that Dulli has moved on and is confident enough to display a sense of hum or about himself. Without such growth he wouldíve risked getting stuck in a furrow adjoining Mark Eitzelís.

Loverman persona aside, Dulli and the Whigs have fashioned a lean album of libidinous grooves expertly punctuated with horns, strings and R&B back-up chicks. Templates for this album might have been the Stonesí Black and Blue, Princeís Black Album, or Marvin Gayeís Sexual Healing. And though the Whigs assimilated those influences long ago, here they finally seem comfortable enough to tip-toe over the top, as they do on the Princely beatbox-and-moan interlude "Sweet Son of a Bitch" and with t he above-mentioned lyric, among others.

And if I havenít namechecked Dulliís long-suffering bandmates till now, guitarist Rick McCollum and bassist John Curley, itís only because theyíve dovetailed their parts so seamlessly within the albumís undulations that theyíve become pra ctically indistinguishable from the whole in the best possible way. Consider them lubricant. Dulli can use all he can get on this date. (Columbia)

- Robert Cherry

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