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Gentlemen [Deluxe Edition]
     

Gentlemen [Deluxe Edition]

by The Afghan Whigs
 

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More than two decades on from its original release, the Afghan Whigs' major-label debut, 1993's Gentlemen, sounds like (a) the group's best and most ambitious album, and (b) a masterpiece that's purposefully difficult, and the expanded version that appeared in 2014 reinforces both sides of that equation. Just as 1992's Congregation was a massive step

Overview

More than two decades on from its original release, the Afghan Whigs' major-label debut, 1993's Gentlemen, sounds like (a) the group's best and most ambitious album, and (b) a masterpiece that's purposefully difficult, and the expanded version that appeared in 2014 reinforces both sides of that equation. Just as 1992's Congregation was a massive step forward from 1990's flawed but exciting Up in It, Gentlemen took the sounds and ideas of Congregation and ran with them. However, while Up in It and Congregation sometimes contemplated a darkness of the soul, Gentlemen dove into it headfirst, as the 11 songs peer into the mind of a ladies' man with a dubious view of his conquests and a self-image that swings from swollen pride to bitter contempt. The wiry precision and R&B-rooted sound of Congregation (built around Rick McCollum's superb guitar work) only grew tougher and more detailed on Gentlemen, but this show belongs to vocalist and songwriter Greg Dulli, and he never lets go for a moment. These songs manage to be preening and confessional at once, and if Dulli's fascination with himself borders on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, few people in rock history have made more out of self-loathing than Dulli does on Gentlemen, and the rich, hard sound of Dulli's production suits these songs perfectly. (Dulli couldn't even bring himself to sing "My Curse," instead bringing in Marcy Mays from Scrawl to deliver a brilliant vocal.) These songs aren't for everyone -- it's worth noting that in a year that found fellow alt-rock heroes the Replacements filling tennis stadiums and minor-league ballparks on their reunion tour, the Afghan Whigs were playing many of the same clubs they played in 1993 (and without Rick McCollum) -- but if it isn't always fun, Gentlemen is still a bracing and compelling piece of work. For the 2014 reissue, Gentlemen has been expanded to a two-disc set, with the second half devoted to rare and unreleased material. The disc includes eight demos cut during Gentlemen's pre-production that confirm the Whigs had their arrangements and basic production ideas firmly in place; these rough drafts lack the precision of the final versions, but you do get the opportunity to hear Dulli sing "My Curse." The set also includes rough mixes without vocals for two tunes, four covers that were recorded as B-sides, and three live tracks originally recorded for radio broadcast, including a fierce medley of "My World Is Empty" and "I Hear a Symphony." This wealth of bonus material doesn't necessarily make Gentlemen sound like a better album, but it does give fans an impressive look at the building blocks that the Afghan Whigs used to construct this bravely and masterfully off-putting work.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/27/2014
Label:
Rhino
UPC:
0081227956639
catalogNumber:
545514
Rank:
5186

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Afghan Whigs   Primary Artist
Greg Dulli   Vocals
Jody Stephens   Background Vocals
Marcy Mays   Vocals
Steve Earle   Drums
Rick McCollum   Guitar
Harold Chichester   Piano,Mellotron
Barb Hunter   Cello

Technical Credits

Richard Rodgers   Composer
Dan Penn   Composer
John Curley   Engineer
Lamont Dozier   Composer
Greg Dulli   Composer,Producer
John Hampton   Engineer
Lorenz Hart   Composer
Brian Holland   Composer
Chips Moman   Composer
Jeff Powell   Engineer
Marcy Mays   Composer
JoDee Stringham   Layout
Bob Gendron   Liner Notes
Rick McCollum   Composer
Rory Wilson   Art Direction
D. H. Fleischer   Band Photo

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