Sunday, September 30th, 2012
The Afghan Whigs cover The Supremes
Sub PopHistory likes to lump The Afghan Whigs in with the grunge end of the ’90s Alternative Nation scene – and yeah, they certainly benefitted from being on Sub Pop for the release of Up In It in 1990 and Gentlemen in 1993 – but they didn’t have much in common with their Pacific northwest brethren, stylistically. They came from much more of a place of R&B and soul than psych, metal, or other brand of classic rock… and while there may exist photographic evidence to prove otherwise, I don’t see Greg Dulli as much of a flannel guy.
So it actually makes a lot of sense that their only two official releases since reuniting early this year have been a couple of covers – one of 1970s soul singer Marie “Queenie” Lyons and another of 2012 R&B/hip-hop breakout star Frank Ocean. The Whigs have long made a habit of recording and releasing covers, specifically ones that point to their musical influences. Case in point, their 1992 EP Uptown Avondale which collected four Stax/Motown covers including this one (which again appeared on their 2006 best-of Unbreakable), a Holland/Dozier/Holland classic that was a #1 single in late 1964 and early 1965 for The Supremes. And it’s a pretty great example of what a few chord voicing changes can do to the character of a song, as the Whigs’ decision to take things into a minor key make it an infinitely more sinister tune; no, girl – don’t go see about him. Just don’t.
Diana Ross left The Supremes in 1970 and after a number of lineup changes, they disbanded in 1977. The Afghan Whigs are at The Phoenix on Wednesday night.