Sunday, April 13, 2014

Kat's Korner: Do The Beast


Kat:  They're back.  Showing up with a swagger, Greg Dulli's crotch leading the way, the Afghan Whigs cockwalk through "Parked Outside" like it was just yesterday Dulli was crooning, "I should have seen the s**t coming down the hall, every night I spent in that bed with you facing the wall" ("When We Two Parted").

In fact, that was 1993.  The Afghan Whigs had released Gentlemen which was such a huge step forward for an already entertaining band.  In sex drenched track after track, Dulli was the sexual beast scratching at the door to come inside but scared of being let in.  "What Jail Is Like" was only one of the album's more obvious takes on the sexual dance.

Whether writing solo or with Richrd McCollum, Dulli was navigating the male terrain of which two classics have to be "Be Sweet" and "When We Two Parted."

Ladies, let me tell you about myself
I got a dick for a brain
And my brain is gonna sell my ass to you
Now I'm okay but in time I find I'm stuck
Coz she wants love and I still wanna f**k

It wasn't boasting, it was seductive confessions.

And it made for one of 1993's most amazing albums -- no simple feat back when music actually mattered.

"You know me by now, you know me by now," Greg sings on the new album's "Lost In The Woods."

Indeed we do.

And, oh, how we've missed you.

And McCollum, John Curley and Steve Earle.

The foursome followed up Gentleman with 1996's Black Love filled with songs equal parts seductive and equal parts elegiac. The scene had changed.  Women still had some bravery but the closest thing to alternative rock on the male side that actually charted was the K-Mart bargain bin Gin Blossoms -- little tinker toys who made Pearl Jam look 'heavy.'  So "Summer's Kiss" and "Step into the Light" never found the large audiences they deserved.

Next up was 1998's 1965 which was the band's last album.  It sold worse than Black Love but many millions got to know "66" due to the track being used in the Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachel Leigh Cook starring film She's All That.

Now they're back* -- and at a time when the world of music needs them most -- with an all new album, Do To The Beast.


After they're done strutting around the room with "Parked Outside," "Matamoros" hits you.  It's the sexual bob done convincingly -- the one that repeatedly leaves Justin Timberlake looking flummoxed and like a bobble head which, for the record, isn't sexy.  "I'm over you," Greg sings before making it clear that's not the case by adding, "I'll tell you why."

Throughout the seventies, as the stadium tours demanded larger and larger from the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger's persona edged close to cartoon finally getting there a little after the 80s "She Was Hot." For those who never got a chance to press against the sexual heat of a potent Jagger, luxuriate in the decadence of Dulli.  The craving, the desire, the tension and push-pull is all over Do To The Beast.

"Over and over/ I get to know myself/ Over and over/ There ain't nobody else," explains Greg in "It Kills" when his lover ends up with another.  And sings with the power that still surprises.

How can such a walking, weeping hard-on  have the voice of  an angel -- albeit a dirty and randy angel?

"It kills to watch you love another," Dulli croons with lust and regret.

"Algiers" is the lead single.  The band's made a video that I'm guessing is supposed to suggest love is pain.  But I'd argue the whole video says less than Greg when he sings, "Heavenly demons outside my window,
sent here to see me outside this world.  I call the shot and you call the season."  Even's more is said by the winding music which laps like waves.

For ten tight tracks, the Afghan Whigs shake the bed and then some.  If there's a better track than "Can Rova" this year, what a year 2014 will be.


As the year closed, looking back, I was appalled by how bad it was for music.  There wasn't even a point in compiling a full top ten list.  But already this year, we've got Cloud Nothing's Here and Nowhere Else.  Tori Amos is set to release Unrepentant Geraldines in May. The month also sees Ben Harper's Childhood Home released -- his best album since 2007's Lifeline (yes, I've already heard it, it's great and I will be reviewing it).   Chrissie Hynde's Stockholm comes out in June. The possibilities seem endless.  And out of nowhere comes the Afghan Whigs with Do To The Beast which drops Tuesday.

Picture where I've been
Underneath, within
I could love you . . .
-- "I Am Fire"

It's glorious, it's sensual, it's rough, it's soft, it's the best musical f**k to be had in years.

[Added: * Not all were back, as I discovered April 15th.]