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The Whigs' breathtaking breakthrough third album. This is the first offering in their sin and substance trilogy of records (the even starker Gentlemen and vengeful rage of Black Love make up the trio) and it is remarkably beautiful! The songs are all concerned to an extent with the (un)social-realism of human relationships; lust, love and of course loss.
Greg Dulli knows how to write a song, by making a yin and yang between subtle verse and anthemic chorus. The perfect blending of honky-tonk piano, slide guitars and smoky yet sweet vocals turns themselves ferociously over come the chorus. The Sub Pop classic "Turn on the Water" is a extraordinary example of that soulful crescendo of distortion, volume and crash. The power and weight of the lyrics and music smash right through your heart when you hear Dulli roar: "I'm gone, I'm gone but it's alright!" Never mind 'wall of sound', mixing blues with punk and Motown/Atlantic soul, the Whigs conjure up an aural tsunami of musical styles.
Dulli's lyrics have always excelled at being inwardly visual, being able to pin-point the source of pain and then rub a pound of salt into the tender wound. On "Let Me Lie To You" a parasitic Dulli serenades another potential victim into his web of loneliness with the immortal lines "You discover your lover / between the legs of another / and he's loving it / Let me lie to you". The bonus track Miles iz Ded is for me the trademark for the band and its legacy, bitter-sweet and almost uncomfortable scenarios in the back seats of cars, hotel rooms, your parent's bed; "If I stepped it off / walked outside your trance / crawled inside your mind / and got my hands into your pants!"
One of the greatest albums of the 1990's.
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on 24 August 2011
The evolution of the Afghan Whigs over their first few albums - more specifically, the increase in sophistication between 1990's 'Up In It' and this, 1992's 'Congregation' - is nothing short of astonishing. That said, 'Congregation' is still the bridge between their raw beginnings and the incredibly stylish hard rock band they would ultiunately become, starting with 'Gentlemen' a year later. It also crystallized their penchant - particlularly lead singer and head lyricist, Greg Dulli's - for threatening exposes of abusive, fractured relationships.

While their signature soulful, funk-infused take on 90s grunge punk arrives on this, their third album, it is really only clear on two tracks - both of which were written by the entire band. Complete with tortured self effacing lyrics , wah wah pedals and funked up keyboards, 'Turn on the Water' (You can hold me down, but don't you let me breathe) and 'Conjure Me' (Gonna turn on you, before you turn on me) would be at home on either of the superlative rock albums that followed this. Similarly, the simmering lament of self disgust and desperation in Dulli's own 'Let Me Lie To You' and the intoxicating threat of violence in 'Tonight', a ballad in which he takes the role of a predator luring a girl to her doom (Follow me down to the bushes dear, Non-one will know, We'll disappear) are equally characteristic of what they were becoming.

Elswehere there is an excellent cover of 'The Temple' from Jesus Christ Superstar and the band's own 'Dedicate it' (by Dulli and guitarist, Ron McCollum) is also fine. The CD closes with the bonus track 'Miles Iz Dead' (a slightly different version of 'Rebirth of the Cool', the band's ode of Miles Davis on the EP of soul covers, 'Uptown Avondale', which immediately preceded this album').

'Congregation' is a haunting collection with some Whigs career highlights. Though, it is mainly for devotees as their next three and final releases would be must-own showstoppers.
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on 18 June 2016
Another good album from the Whigs, perhaps a little 'heavier' than I was expecting, but it's a definate grower.
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on 23 February 2015
good album, great band
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on 27 March 2015
As expected came as promised
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