Monday, December 17, 2007

Afgan Wigs - Gentlemen

Recorded at Ardent Studios, Memphis, Tennessee between May and June 1993, and at Ultrasuede, Cincinnati, Ohio in April 1993.

GENTLEMEN is a rare thing in rock music, a "concept album" so personal and painful that listening to it gives the impression of being privy to something that should never have been made public. Greg Dulli's lyrics about male inadequacies and overcompensation ring with uncontainable self-hatred and loathing. The shifting of emotions--from the brittle and internal to the brutal and external--forms the basis for the stagnancy and decay of the male/female relationships described here.

Opening with a claustrophobic swirl, "If I Were Going" sets the mood, a warm bassline picking at the scabs of Dulli's cracked intonation ("It's all a lie, it's nearly dead, it's in our hope, baby, it's in our bed"). Taking cues from blues, soul, and rock, the Whigs crank out a hybrid 'alternative' sound borne on the scorching guitars of Rick McCollum. After the summation of "Bit into a rotten one now, didn't you?" ("Now You Know") and "I Keep Coming Back," a cover of the Tyrone Davies soul classic, the instrumental "Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer" adds violin and piano to the mix, finally offering a reprieve from the Whigs' poisonous psychic exorcism. Though not a record to listen to often, GENTLEMEN is a stunning achievement.

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