SINGLES: Turn on the Water, Conjure Me, Miles Iz Ded
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m Her Slave
LINEUP: John Curley, Greg Dulli, Steve Earle, Rick McCollum
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Afghan Whigs announce their full presence with authority with a great album that sets their course for the rest of the 90’s.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: They were on Sub Pop, but they weren’t from the Northwest, nor were they grunge. The Afghan Whigs decadent and hedonistic elegance is in full form here.
There’s a combo of alternative rock, soul and other elements in the music, as McCollum’s guitar reigns over the songs. But the star is Dulli – his vocals, mannerisms and lyrics are intriguing, compelling and at times revulsive. It’s all about Dulli on the prowl, as a hunter and as the hunted.
The album kind of loses a bit of steam during the back half. The slow burns get wearisome after a while, but it ends on a quite high note with “Miles Iz Ded”, a song tacked on at the end of the album from a different session.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Sub Pop was almost bankrupt and this album was on hold until they could pay the studio (actually Dulli had to find a job to pay the studio then Sub Pop paid him back) and manufacture and release the album. Then Nevermind hit and Sub Pop became flush with royalties
ARTIST: The Afghan Whigs TITLE: Up in It YEAR RELEASED: 1990 CHART ACTION: None SINGLES: Retarded OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Long time fans and Sub Poppers, yes. Otherwise… LINEUP: Greg Dulli, John Curley, Rick McCollum, Steve Earle WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Garage-ish band signs with Sub Pop and starts transition to a more soulful version of themselves, but are still a bit unpolished at this date.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It doesn’t take long for Dulli to say his first 12-letter curse word in the first song. It’s the second song where McCollum uses all of his effects pedals to great work. The third song has Dulli bragging about being a really bad guy. Yep, the Whigs had a lot of their elements in place early on.
If you know the Whigs from their later material, you may be in for a surprise. They hadn’t fully incorporated the soul and R&B elements that they would later – and Dulli wasn’t as suave and sophisticated as he was in their later years.
What we have here is a garage band with some R&B swing to it and attitude all over the place. It makes for an interesting and compelling listen, but there are rough edges that the band would smooth out soon enough. The garage-ish band arrangements make some of the songs too dense.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: This wasn’t their first album – they self-released a record that had very limited distribution but that turned the head of Sub Pop.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The CD added four songs from their self-released first album.
GRADE: B: The Whigs start on their dark, noir path, but the music’s rough edges make some of it a slog.