Thursday, 30 October 2008

1965 1998 2008

10 years ago this week the Afghan Whigs released 1965. I am sure anniversaryists will let this one pass by without a nod. It’s a good album but does it require any retrospectivity? (I realise that I have used two made up words in this opening paragraph, that’s how I roll).

1965 was the final album by the Afghan Whigs and arguably their best, never really achieving the fame afforded to their contemporaries, never having that breakthrough hit gentlemen ploughing a similar furrow had. In the end what do you do, do you hold out or cut your losses, no acrimony, no bitterness, just victims of geography, you end up cutting your losses.

1965, the best album that Marvin Gaye never recorded. If it is possible for white men with guitars to record an album that is soulful but isn’t soul, that has elements of funk, but doesn’t need to dip into the limited funk bag of tricks that The Red Hot Chilli Peppers plunder with all too much regularity? That takes you to funky town on a funky train with the funky worm and but doesn’t have an ounce of slap bass, fat bass or a single Yowser Yowser Yowser. If it is possible then The Afghan Whigs achieved it on this record.

Of course 1965 is a rock record, its white boy rock made for white boys, but Dulli and his compatriots, show a side that moves away from its gin soaked predecessors and embraces the loving arms of early 70s Motown, not mid 60’s Motown, early 70’s. When the ROCK does come its almost as if Buffalo Tom had bought a Jimi Hendrix songbook, thought these solo’s are a bit tricky and only played the chords. I hear Buffalo Tom all the way through 1965, or it may be that I hear the Afghan Whigs all the way through Buffalo Tom? Who knows.

Ten years later and the album sounds circa now, not that ghastly indie sound that seems to proliferate the charts, the one that seems to have a lot of public school boys affected an awful faux cockney accent (See The Kooks, Scouting For Girls etc), but the mixing of styles that Dulli, Lanegan, Desert Sessions have embraced of late.

Since their split Dulli had a brief solo career that traded on his name, but it was more than just the hits, he went on to form The Gutter Twins with Mark Lanegan and The Twilight Singers, perhaps finally receiving the acclaim that his song writing deserved. Curley ended up in The Staggering Statistics, McCollum is in Moon Maan and Horrigan is bassist in the non Raconteurs Brendan Benson’s band. None of whom however came close to recreating anything close to the beauty of final album, 1965.

John The Baptist by The Afghan Whigs.

Buy it from Amazon

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