The Afghan Whigs’ ‘Black Love’ is twenty years old, so it’s getting a deluxe re-issue today for Black Friday (whatever that is) This has been welcome cause for it to get another listen or two, the first in far too long. It’s like an old friend it’s great to see again, even though you know they’re a bad influence. Too many late nights and cigarettes and way too many drinks – that sort of thing. I only just discovered the slightly insane and very 90’s video they made for Honky’s Ladder – and that’s kind of how I remember it being too, sleazy, celebratory, vivid, and Curley still looked like Silent Bob.
Around here we’ve always held this record in very high regard as being pretty much the peak of one of the very best bands of the 90’s. Ahh the 90’s eh? how long ago and carefree it all seems now, looking about at the terrifying burning wreckage of 2016 puts it in a deep rose tinted spotlight and no mistake. ‘Black Love’ is completely stuffed with musical ideas and quotable lines, Dulli’s dark charisma selling you on his full strength mix of self aggrandising self laceration. It works a a single piece but each song is different and all of them are great. Predecessor ‘Gentlemen’ is perhaps the obvious choice for their best but this is at least as good, follow up ‘1965’ doesn’t quite hit the same heights and marked the start of the end of their road. This clip is a great performance of ‘Faded’ – proper gave me goosebumps hearing it again. What a song, my goodness. The Whigs could stake a reasonable claim to being the best live band on the planet for a year or two around then, focussed and fluid with ambition by the truckload. Obviously there’s a bonus disc of the usual demos and sketches and such, including a nice piano version of New Order’s ‘Regret’ none of it stuff that’ll get you playing that second disc more than a couple of times though. Why there’s no live material added is a bit of a head scratcher, full band versions of ‘Regret’ from live recordings are better for a start and I know there’s great stuff they could draw on. Another time maybe. Even Greg has to retire some day. I’ma go crank it up loud again.