The Afghan Whigs - 1965
SEX AND ROCK. THEY'RE bedfellows, right? One is supposed to be about the other. Yet when did you last hear a really sexy, white rock record, one that hit you at loin level then started crawling and spreading through your heart, soul, body and mind?
It's always been problematic. There's a lot of balcony romancing, angst, woman-done-me-wrong self-pity and heavy metal sexual fantasy but surprisingly little honest, horny, unhung-up celebration of sexuality.
The Afghan Whigs' Greg Dulli has wrestled with this problem half his career - on 'Gentlemen', he was full of ironic self-loathing, this being the PC age. On 'Black Love' he was down in the dumps but with '1965' he's finally come up with an unabashedly sexual record that reconciles lust for women with respect for women, gets it on without resorting to strutting machismo. The sex on '1965' is on a fuck-me-fuck-you basis. "Take me, taste me... anything for a lover", he croons on 'John The Baptist'.
'Somethin' Hot', 'Crazy' and '66' are the most joyously straight-up, hard-on, joyously sensual cuts you're likely to hear outside of an '80s Prince album. Rick McCollum's knee-trembling guitar, Susan Marshall's backing vocals, piano, strings and horns combine here to positively carnal effect. Recorded in New Orleans, you can sense the sweat on the walls, the steam on the windows, the heat rising off the songs. "C'mon/C'mon little rabbit/Show me where you got it/'Cos I know you got a habit", ('66').
Of course, this being the Whigs, the dark stuff starts to seep through here, voodoo and vampires. If the first half of '1965' is a study in fast'n'loose ecstasy, the second half slides into a slow, anguished comedown as things fuck up and turn nasty. "You can fuck my body but don't fuck my mind..." pleads Dulli on 'Neglekted' and "I don't sleep... because sleep is the cousin of death..." on 'Omerta', as the musical threads on the album unwind into Mardi Gras bedlam, the bed sheets twisted and soaking.
White American boys aren't supposed to make records like this in 1998. '1965' is a triumph against the grain of post-grunge. 9/10