The Afghan Whigs - 1965
Like most people, I’m mostly familiar with The Afghan Whigs mid-career high points (Gentlemen, Black Love), and the stuff from before and after kind of mirrors a trajectory very reminiscent of fellow midwesterners The Replacements; punkier early days, albums marked as the steps to their indie rock trailblazing opuses, and then the heady days that followed with a more polished sound and worn out welcome. The worn out welcome isn’t really true for either band, much like The ‘Mats’ All Shook Down,1965 definitely takes some liberties with genre, but Greg Dulli (in a Westerbergian fashion) is really showing that he can master songwriting in other genres as well as his own. 1965 is absolutely necessary in Dulli’s evolution from the Whigs to The Twilight Singers, especially in songs like “John the Baptist”, a near-six-minute sex funk workout complete with Dulli stretching his trademark lothario croon and full horn section. “The Slide Song” could have easily shown up on Gentlemen or Congregation, and “66” is a top 40 pop-rock the way only Greg Dulli can do it. He even throws out a nod to Nas’ seminal Illmatic in “Omerta”, with the line, “I don’t sleep ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death/At least that’s what Nas says”. The blues-dirge of “Neglekted” is a cringer at times, but if you listen carefully, you’ll hear bits of Lifter Puller, Built to Spill, and Modest Mouse hidden throughout the album under fragments of syrupy disjointed melodies and jagged funk guitars.