February 1999
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Afghan Whigs --1965

A review by Courtney Knopf

Greg Dulli is a rock star. If you don't believe me, go see a live Afghan Whigs show, and Dulli himself will convince you of this. He croons, purrs and growls through a live set as if it was his birthright. And while many thought that being treated for clinical depression would soften, and possibly even ruin the earnest wail that has become his trademark, 1965, the Whigs 5th album, is a testament to the idea that even being happy can't ruin a good thing like rock music. In a year that has been bombarded with such "rock" offerings from the likes of Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind, Dulli and Co. show those panty weights how it should be done.

1965 1965 is considerably lighter than the last two offerings in the Whigs catalog (1993's much lauded Gentlemen and the criminally overlooked Black Love from 1996), but it packs such a punch that you'll wonder where the Whigs have been all your life. Recorded on their own dime in New Orleans, 1965 shows a new maturity in the Whigs repertoire. Adding a horn section as well as the sultry backing vocals of Susan Marshall, the songs come to life with more layers in a much richer fashion. Combined with Rick McCollum's grinding lead guitar and John Curley's bass, this album is a down and dirty romp through libidinous desire that shows off the chops of the band as well as their fondness for soul music and good old fashioned rocking out.

"Somethin' Hot," the first track on the album (as well as the first single), is a rollicking tale of seduction that sets the tone for the duration of the disc. And then of course there's the 22 second track called "Sweet Son Of A Bitch," which is merely a recording of a woman reaching sexual ecstasy that was apparently recorded in the confines of Dulli's bedroom. But the album is about more than just sex; the wonderful "Citi Soleil," apparently inspired by a cabbie from the Port-Au-Prince town of the same name, captures the feel of a Caribbean city and all that madness and fire that it houses. While Dulli is a little bit less angst-ridden than in previous work, he's no less adroit at conjuring up images with a simple verse like 'You walked in/Just like smoke/With a little come on, come on, come on/In your walk,' from the sublime "66."

Perhaps by accident, the Whigs have made a party album. A sex-drenched blend of rock and soul that could make even the most staid of record listeners dance. Get 1965 and Dulli will show you how to "Make Party" and shake your ass like you know you should.

[93%] A-

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