When the grunge/alt-rock movement exploded in the 90’s, there were few bands that captivated their listener like The Afghan Whigs. Combining the earnest songwriting capabilities of bands like Big Star and The Replacements with a soulful 60’s R&B vibe, The Whigs were one of the bands who actually capitalized on their jump from the indies to a major label. The Whigs to this day remain one of my favorite bands who’ve ever existed. My bias may be the result of this question being asked, but I must ask it: How has no one thought to tap The Afghan Whigs to score a film? The Cincinnati-based band had a strong run from 1986-2001 and have recently reunited to a great deal of success. Their album Do The Beast (releasing in April of the this year) will be their first since 1965, released in 1998.
Not including singles, The Whigs discography consists of 6 brilliant albums, the peak of which is 1993’s major label debut, Gentlemen. Lead vocalist/guitarist Greg Dulli details stories of infidelity, drug addiction, heartbreak, misery, and regret. Gentlemen is built with the same bravado of Purple Rain, while also channeling a Nick Cave-by-way-of-Tom Waits storytelling. When they rock, they rock better than anyone. There’s a certain snarl that is all Dulli. It’s evil and sexual, all in one fell swoop. The characters in Gentlemen are bad guys, but they’re bad guys who are in search of something more. Unfortunately, they leave a path of destruction in their wake.
The puzzle pieces of Gentlemen are pretty emblematic of what The Whigs, and more so Dulli, have made a career of. The visual is created in the lyrics. A picture is instantly painted in your mind as you listen, whether it’s the title track or one of the album’s pinnacle tracks, “What Jail Is Like”, their is a definite narrative that runs throughout. In that regard, Gentlemen is a movie. There’s no happy ending to be had, but it’s so goddamn compelling, you’ll hang on until the end.
Do The Beast will be available April 15th via Sub Pop Records (their first album in 16 years!!!) and a subsequent tour will accompany the release of the album. In the meantime, check out Gentlemen. You’ll see the movie I see.
-Greg Dulli: Amber Headlights (2005)
-Greg Dulli: Live At Triple Door (2008)
-The Gutter Twins: Saturnalia (2007, the release is music written by Dulli & Mark Lanegan)
-The Twilight Singers: Blackberry Belle (Another of Dulli’s band)
(To be clear, The Whigs have lent music to films, and Dulli has not only help score films but also appeared in a handful of cool flicks. This is more of a observation on the album Gentlemen-Ed.)