on 11 April 2007
It's a bit scary to think that I've lived with this album for over 10 years now! And although I wouldn't say it's my favourite album of all time (I mainly listen to electronic and classical stuff), it is certainly my favourite rock album.
Despite coming to the album as a fan of the previous one (Gentlemen), it took me a little while to warm to Black Love. I wouldn't describe it as difficult as such, but I guess the songs are dark and not overtly catchy. Once I was familiar with it, however, it was hard to imagine how I didn't 'get' it at first.
Perhaps the best thing about this album (especially in this age of single track downloads) is how skilfully it has been put together. The tension is constantly cranked up over the space of 3 or 4 tracks, and then released with a slower number, before the band start to crank it up again. Listening to "Going to Town", it's hard to imagine how they can crank things up any further, but then "Honky's Ladder" kicks in and you realise they can!
Due to the way that the tension is constantly maintained, I also find this album my favourite ever to go running/workout to. I'm sure this wasn't what the band had in mind putting it together, but it's still the case! But in any setting, it's a classic album, and whilst other Whigs albums might contain stronger individual tracks, judged as a whole I think this is their masterpiece.
on 5 January 2000
Like some ultra-cool soundtrack to a violent and beautiful gangster film, Black Love plunges the listener into a dark urban world. This is essential listening for anyone still interested in the rock album as an art form.
Greg Dulli draws on his ever-present lyrical themes of love, sex, death, revenge and redemption to create a complex and evocative world of angry loners, jilted lovers and dark alleys. Opening with 'Crime Scene Part 1' and the awful cry of "Do you think I'm beautiful?/Do you think I'm evil?", and closing with the pure ray of light that is 'Faded', Black Love takes us through the groovy arson fantasy 'Going To Town', killer single 'Honky's Ladder', and the sparkling 'Step Into The Light'. Nothing is wasted; everything adds to the mood, builds on the story.
This is a perfect album: soulful and moving without resorting to cliche; aggressive and gritty without becoming macho; and complete in itself to make you want to ride the emotional rollercoaster again and again. Is it God or the devil at the controls? Who knows.
on 6 October 1999
How do you follow an album like 'Gentlemen' which is a nearmasterpiece? Well the Afghan Whigs follow it up by giving us 'Black love' which is a good collection of songs that have a New Orleans flavour, yet still rocks in places and has its quiet moments as well. On this album the band show that they can really play and write some serious songs. These are not a collection of pop songs but more moving and thought provoking intelligent songs that will get you in to a grove.
Some of the songs that will stand out in most people's opinion are 'Crime Scene Part One and Honky's Ladder' and there is another great tune, which is 'Summer's Kiss' which has a small R&B flavour to it. This album shows us just what is instore for our next treat and what a treat its going to be.
'Black Love', as its title hints, is a very dark album. A stoned darkness permeates proceedings- putting it next to albums like 'There's a Riot Goin On', 'Trouble Man', 'Being There' and 'All Shook Down'. It extends on the sounds of 'Congregation', 'Uptown Avondale' and 'Gentlemen'- taking the soulful guitar thang many steps further...
It opens with the cheery 'Crime Scene Part One', which initially sounds like Slint or Mogwai (well, Slint). A Spiritualized organ heralds Dulli's vocal- who is "saying goodbye to everyone who loves me". This is a dark give-it-all album, in the mode of Neil Young's 'Tonight's The Night'; but with the Whigs grunge-soul style (that sub-genre never really took off, sadly!). The song builds to a great pulse of drums, the saddest guitars howl- imagine Joy Division playing Curtis Mayfield...'My Enemy' speeds up proceedings, with a monster riff and a wall of feedback- not to forget a funkybassline. This is such a wasted song- the bridge ("The sun is gone") is shattering. As dark as the excellent 'Dust' by Screaming Trees...'Double Day' is a darker extension on songs like 'Be Sweet' and 'Fountain & Fairfax'- "Tonight's the night I take it home", Dulli screams...'Blame, Etc.' (great title) is closer to the sound of '1965'- a Bobby Womack/Curtis Mayfield/Baby Huey feel is captured. Imagine The Charlatans 'Tellin Stories' played by grungey-Americans!...'Step Into The Light' is one of Dulli's darkest songs- a dark countryish lull (with a hint of blues) down there with songs like 'Sadly Beautiful', 'The Lonely 1', 'Anodyne' and 'Come Pick Me Up'. The darkness has taken over; Dulli pleads for a return to light (which '1965' would deliver, to an extent)...'Going to Town' lets The Whigs indulge in a New Order style drum-track- very '1963' or 'Lonesome Tonight'. It's the most Whigs by numbers track...'Honky's Ladder' is much better- a dark funk- imagine Green on Red doing 'Dirty Mind'-Prince and you're near!...'Night By Candlelight' is a string-led ballad- close to the dark soulful sounds of Mark Lanegan...'Bulletproof' sounds like The Charlatans initially, it builds slowly to a funky riff- not far from earlier songs like 'Debonair' and 'Conjure Me'...'Summer's Kiss' is another Mark Lanegan sounding ballad- very 'Whiskey for the Holy Ghost' or The Gun Club's 'Fire of Love'...'Faded' is the epic finale, Eight-plus minutes of soulful goodbyes and woes. Close to Wilco's 'Amphetamine' or 'Sunken Treasure'. Or even Jeff Buckley's 'Dream Brother'. A fantastic riff takes us home, on this- one of the darkest soulful albums of all time. Hopefully in the future this will achieve classic status and a place in your record collection. This is the Whigs dark masterpiece- the one you HAVE to own.
on 4 February 2016
My first and favourite Whigs album is darkly inspired from beginning to end. Superior to the more celebrated Gentlemen in that it ends properly with the nostalgic beauty of "Summer's Kiss" and the majestic "Faded" whereas Gentlemen ends with a tedious instrumental. Along the way you get the noir narrative of !Going to Town," the awesomely profane "Honky's Ladder," two creeping, crepuscular ballads in "Step Into the Light" and "Night by Candlelight." These other reviewers have said all the ways it's great (10 to fifteen years ago) so I'll just add that the eerie noise that heralds Crime Scene (Part 1) has to be my favourite album opening noise ever (what does it make you think of ?!)