To celebrate the release of Dynamite Steps, the new album from Greg Dulli’s Twilight Singers project, hecklerspray are taking the opportunity to explain why your life is sadly incomplete without a load of albums by his previous band The Afghan Whigs who were (and this strictly between you and us) one of the best bands of the 1990s.
When the Whigs became the first non-Seattle based band to sign to (then) grunge label Sub Pop, they could so easily have faltered. They didn't arrive fully-formed like the catchy good-time garage rock of Mudhoney.
Like they did with Nirvana, what those clever clever chaps at the label saw, when they got hold of their 1988 self-released debut Big Top Halloween, was a potential that was invisible to others .
Even on 1990s Up in It, there were only a few clues that they weren't just another bunch of shorts-wearing long-hairs looking to get high, but the clues were there sure enough. Lead singer Greg Dulli was already detailing the darker side of relationships with discomforting articulacy but thrilling as they were, the music wasn?t doing full justice to the subject matter. Dulli is a soul singer of the old-fashioned persuasion. Not for him, the whining self-justifications of others. Searingly honest and often indefensible. Don't let your woman hear Dulli?s confessions or you're going to have to cancel next week?s appointments and dedicate the time ?convincing girlfriend that Dulli is lying?.
By their fourth album, 1993?s Gentlemen they had nailed it. A balls-out rock band but with music that had caught up with their ambitions. They didn't churn out blues rock, or polished ?soulful? ballads, somehow they truly found the essence- rock music that reflected soul in all his messy, intense, obsessive passion. The same passion that ignites the candle flame on the dinner table at the start of the relationship, and then burns the house down in a whisky-soaked fury at the end.
The Afghan Whigs became a more precise weapon as time got on, but Gentlemen and 1996’s Black Love still stand as the ultimate documents of the dark male motivations behind seduction and breaking up. Since the Whigs split, Dulli has been narrating relationships in a variety of guises, but mainly as The Twilight Singers. A less immediate proposition than his previous band but always an interesting one with flashes of the old brilliance shining through, and a continuing vehicle for the brilliantly arranged cover versions that the Whigs were known for.
So consider this either an introduction or a reminder of why he inspires such devotion.
1. Fountain and Fairfax.
A drunken Dulli makes a doomed, desperate and half-hearted attempt to hold on to something.
2. Going To Town (live on Letterman)
“I feel as though I must confide there is a cost. When you say now we got Hell to pay. Don’t worry, baby, that’s okay I know the boss”
3.? My World is Empty Without You/I Hear a Symphony (live).
The desperation in theses Supremes classics left exposed.
4. Somethin’ Hot (live on Jools Holland).
From their final album, 1965.
Catch The Twilight Singers on the following UK dates in March- London Electric Ballroom (18), Glasgow Arches (19), Manchester Moho (20) and Brighton Komedia (21).