The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen

If missed buying the Afghan Whigs’ Gentlemen on vinyl the first time around upon its original 1993 release, rest assured that this remastered version of what is considered by many to be the band’s best and most musically sophisticated effort needs to be part of any record collection. And while the CD can be had for a few bucks, it doesn’t do justice to the layered guitar work, driving beats, and textural atmosphere that feels like it could be right at home on a Brian Eno and U2 collaboration. Indeed, the LP is where it’s at.

While the Cincinnati-based group never got the popular recognition it sorely deserved before calling it a career in 2000, word later got out. A quick perusal of eBay reveals the quartet’s albums selling for $30-$100, with harder-to-find EPs shooting towards $250. Two record stores in my area were even selling less-than-pristine copies of Gentlemen for $40. A few eBay merchants are vending this new pressing for $30, but you can grab it from most online vendors for $20 and it includes a foldout of the album art, complete with lyrics.

The magic is apparent right from the beginning: The tambourine level on the opening “If I Were Going” comes out from above the wind noise, floating about 8 inches from the front of your face while the lead and rhythm guitars blaze in sync with lead singer Greg Dulli’s voice before gently fading back out on the intro of the second song, the title track. All of the extra ambience and depth add to the tension, and at the same time, show off the precision with which this record was created at Memphis’ legendary Ardent Studios. Highly recommended. —Jeff Dorgay

High Speed Soul Records, 180g LP