March 3, 2011
March 3rd, 2011 : Cause & Effect : All Things Greg Dulli
By the late '80s I was enamored with all things grunge and more specifically anything Sub Pop records was dishing out. Sure much of the music was based out of Seattle (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees) but every now and then (and then more often than not) a band from a different part of the country would sneak into their roster. It was my dedication to this one label in high school on top of the fact that I was buying records from them directly for the record store I worked at, that allowed me so many an early introduction to bands / artists that exploded onto the mainstream American music scene. (Hole, Smashing Pumpkins, Hazel, L7 to name a few)
All I needed to know about the Afghan Whigs at the time was that they were on a label that I trusted implicitly. The "I Am the Sticks" single backed with White Trash Party from 1989 was my gateway drug to the music of Greg Dulli and I have been following his career ever since.
As I began piecing together this week's show it was startling to realize over 20 years have passed since I first fell in love with The Afghan Whigs and was fortunate enough to see them play that early on in a room not much bigger than your average two car garage. Musically they embodied a variety of styles I loved at the time from the sheer force and energy of Husker Du to raw vocal gravel of Squirrel Bait to the guitar antics of J Mascis. And while admittedly, at that point Sub Pop could have probably sold me (and often did) just about anything, I fell for this band with all their twisted dark imagery and their masculine swagger in a big way.
I was a senior in high school when this love affair began and just as I began to explore new genres as I matured, it seemed like The Afghan Whigs and Greg Dulli (singer / guitar player) was doing the same thing. Suddenly Soul, Funk and R&B began seeping into their sound and not only was their a steady in flux of cover songs by the band, their sound headed into a more soulful and sinister place as well. By the mid '90s there was a much more layered, almost cinematic quality to the Whigs and I feel like Greg Dulli has been developing and trying to prefect that ever since. Not just as a solo artist but with the Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins as well.
For most of us, life is never easy or simple and I think what I appreciate about Dulli's writing style is his life seems filled with even more trials and tribulations than you or I could possibly ever know. There is an odd comfort in listening to someone who has been around the block a few hundred times and has survived to tell the tale behind a guitar and microphone. His demons are exorcised time and time again in song form and while I don't always love the things he has to say, I am fascinated by a man who has been to hell and back (and back again and again) and has taken us along for a dangerous ride in his passenger seat. (enter "Get The Wheel" lyrics here)
PS: Here is a picture of the Afghan Whigs playing at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, Oct 5th 1990 and it was taken by the wonderful Mr. Richard Unhoch. The little lady in black rocking out is me - fresh out of high school.
Posted by Lightning's Girl