[sic] Magazine

The Quintessential: The Afghan Whigs.

The Afghan Whigs – summarised in 5 songs.

The quintessential explained.

The Afghan Whigs were one of the few bands that made the nineties good. Nominally part of the angst rock movement, The Whigs set themselves apart by adding a sexual element to their particular vexations. They also had soul. Over a reasonably short period of time I saw them grow from competent live act, to one of, if not the best in the business. Many of my all-time favourite concert-going memories were delivered by Mr Greg Dulli and his black clad accomplices.

Supercharged with a dark energy the enigmatic Dulli could also slip into the role of lounge lizard with considerable ease. Playfully suggestive, Dulli was cooler than cool, owning the stage and holding the audience in the palm of his hand. Although he downplays his rasping vocal ability, Dulli is more than capable on the mic. He has provided the voice of John Lennon, both in films and on cover versions. Indeed Dulli loves a cover song as much, if not more than his own material. Even the Motown classics sound pretty fucking great in the hands of The Afghan Whigs.

1. Miles Iz Ded

Miles Iz Ded, is a hidden track on the album Congregation. Can you believe we are launching the Quintessential series with a hidden track! Well, we are.

The fledgling Whigs already had moments of brilliance but it took until their third album to put it all together. I’m a fan of Congregation but I admit that I worked back to this one after being won over by subsequent releases. Miles Iz Ded, can be found after vampiric official closer, Tonight. I chose it because it captures what Afghan Whigs symbolised – seedy lustfulness and self-examination. Miles… may be a hidden track but it is also beloved by fans. It’s legendary ‘Don’t forget the alcohol’ hookline has even been re-appropriated by fellow Ohioans, The National.

I only recently found out that Miles… had an official video. Lucky us!

Check out the remix too…The Rebirth Of Cool (Uptown Avondale EP) It is (fools) gold baby!

2. Debonair

No one would take umbrage at this choice. Debonair is The Afghan Whigs breakthrough single – the one that made all the indie scenesters sit up and take notice. The whole album, Gentlemen is an all time favourite and equally as anxious and claustrophobic as Debonair throughout.

It is the Thirtieth Anniversary of Gentlemen right now! “The love that folks had and still have for it will never cease to make me smile” (Dulli) . See our classics revisited.

3. Faded.

By 5th album Black Love The Afghan Whigs had reached their zenith. All of their implied sleaziness became de rigueur, expected etiquette. Dulli was fully established as a rock anti-hero for our times while the bands live presence had gone to a whole other level. Black Love is a cinematic experience from beginning to end. Dulli is of course the central character, brooding, wronged and out for revenge. Imagine Shaft, by Michael Mann or The Batman directed by Denis Villeneuve in full Prisoners mode. This album is that movie and Faded is its climactic denouement. Arena sized and epic in scope, Faded is The Whigs own Purple Rain moment – literally so, at some shows. It also closes the loop which began with Crime Scene Part One at the start of the album.

I’ve gone for a live version of this one.

4. 66

1965 was The Afghan Whigs final album before breaking up. Here the band ditched their seriousness and just seemed to have a blast, both on the record and in the accompanying tour. 1965 is a playful, sexy record seeing The Whigs embrace their inner Prince on tracks like Crazy and Somethin’ Hot.

I chose 66 for two main reasons: i) it’s pretty great and ii) it signposted the future for Dulli outside of the Whigs. After the breakup Dulli would form The Twilight Singers, initially to explore a totally different direction. However the Twilight Singers sound would evolve into something much more recognisable to Whigs fans. It felt inevitable, like a gravitational pull, that Dulli would always return to the themes and sounds with which he is associated. Guilt, betrayal, lust, retribution…

I’ve selected the Late Night version of 66 as it’s always amusing to see these bad boys trying to be on their best behaviour. And indeed, tying to stop their strings from breaking!

5. Oriole

In 2009 I had the privilege of interviewing John Curley and Rick McCollum, two founder members of The Afghan Whigs and two very cool guys. When asked if there might ever be an Afghan Whigs reunion they were both emphatically in the ‘not happening’ camp. They remained, in their words, “brothers for life”, but the Whigs wouldn’t be coming back.

The Afghan Whigs reformed in 2010. Since then The Whigs have given us three brilliant new albums. And whilst we all reap the rewards of this particular late harvest just remember that it was [sic] Magazine that sowed the seeds! We’re claiming this one kids! We’re ‘humble bragging’ our asses off and enjoying it immensely.

I chose the KEXP version of Oriole because…. it’s cool. I mean, what else could it be! Honestly, I could have chosen any song from any of the comeback albums.

There’s your Afghan Whigs in 5 easy lessons.

Gentlemen – revisited.


Live at Brussels AB.