Our top 10 The Afghan Whigs songs list presents ten of the best hits released by an alternative rock, post-punk band best known for its angst-filled lyrical themes. The band was formed in Cincinnati back in 1986. Its original members include lead guitarist Rick McCollum, bassist John Curley, vocalist/rhythm guitarist Greg Dulli, and drummer Steve Earle. Greg Dulli is credited to have pioneered the formation of the band after the disbandment of The Black Republicans.
The Afghan Whigs slowly evolved from a garage punk band to one of the most acclaimed post-punk/alternative rock bands in the ‘90s. While The Afghan Whigs has been best known for its alternative rock/post-punk sound, the band also incorporates grunge, indie rock, and R&B sonic influences in its songs. Over the years, The Afghan Whigs built its legacy and amassed a cult following, thanks to the intense and dark vocals by Greg Dulli.
Most of the biggest hits by The Afghan Whigs find the band exploring battles in relationships and drug addiction. However, the band has also released songs that prominently feature themes of alienation, revenge, suicidal thoughts, and masculinity. The Afghan Whigs’ career has not only impacted the band’s fans but other musicians as well. Afterhours, My Chemical Romance, Interpol, Jimmy Eat World, and The National have all cited The Afghan Whigs as an influence on their musical pursuits.
The Afghan Whigs’ Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
After the disbandment of The Black Republicans, Greg soon spearheaded the formation of The Afghan Whigs. The band would start rehearsing shortly after its formation in late 1986. “Psychedelic Shack” by The Temptations marked the band’s first song ever rehearsed. Over the next year, the band rehearsed together in the hope of releasing music soon.
Without hesitation, The Afghan Whigs issued its debut studio album, Big Top Halloween, in 1988. This self-produced album was issued through Ultrasuede Records. Big Top Halloween might not have been a major release, but the album helped the band connect with its next record label Sub Pop. Jonathan Poneman, the co-founder of Sub Pop, was among the few who got one of the two thousand copies of the LP, Big Top Halloween.
After building trust in The Afghan Whigs, Sub Pop rewarded the band with a recording contract. Sub Pop has once been home to big names, including Soundgarden, Nirvana, Fleet Foxes, Mudhoney, and The Shins. In 1990, the band went on to release its sophomore album, Up in It, through Sub Pop. Unlike the band’s debut album, which was self-produced, Up in It was produced by Jack Endino, who was once a guitarist for Skin Yard.
Unfortunately, the band’s sophomore album failed to catapult The Afghan Whigs to mainstream success. “Retarded” is one of the popular songs by The Afghan Whigs from Up in It. Nevertheless, Sub Pop was ready to offer the band another shot. In 1992, The Afghan Whigs released its third LP, Congregation. “Conjure Me” and “Turn On the Water” are some of the best The Afghan Whigs songs from the album.
The Afghan Whigs achieved mainstream success the following year after signing to Elektra Records. Under the new record label, the band issued its fourth LP, Gentlemen. Amazingly, the album was produced by the band’s frontman Greg Dulli. Greg had penned most of the songs from the album while on tour for The Afghan Whigs’ previous 1992 album. Gentlemen marked the band’s first album to make it to the charts.
The album peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart and fifty-eighth on the UK Albums chart. Gentlemen also made it to the New Zealand Albums chart, peaking at number fifty. “Debonair,” “What Jail is Like,” and “Gentlemen” are some of the biggest hits by The Afghan Whigs from the album.
The Afghan Whigs’ Album Releases over the Years
Later in 1996, the band issued its fifth LP, Black Love. Black Love featured eleven songs, all of which were written/co-written by Greg Dulli. “Honky’s Ladder” and “Going to Town” are some of the best The Afghan Whigs songs from Black Love. Black Love was also a success, having it peak at number seventy-nine on the Billboard 200. The album also peaked at number forty-one on the UK Albums chart. Despite the album performing better than the former, The Afghan Whigs cut ties with Elektra Records citing insincere business dealings by the label.
The band went on to sign a recording contract with Columbia Records. 1965, an album named after Curley and Dulli’s year of birth, marked the band’s first release (sixth release overall) through Columbia Records. The album failed to perform better than the band’s previous album. However, it still managed to rise to the Billboard 200, peaking at number one hundred and seventy-six. “Somethin’ Hot” and “66” are some of the best The Afghan Whigs songs from 1965.
The Afghan Whigs would later head for several tours, opening for Aerosmith in several shows. However, the band went on to break up in 2001, citing family-related obligations. The Afghan Whigs briefly reformed in 2006, only to fully reunite in 2011. In 2014, the band released its seventh studio album, Do to the Beast.
Do to the Beast was issued through Sub Pop Records. Amazingly, the album managed to rise to position thirty-two on the Billboard 200. Do to the Beast became The Afghan Whigs’ highest-charting album. On the UK Albums chart, Do to the Beast rose to number forty. “Algiers” and Matamoros” are some of the biggest hits by The Afghan Whigs from the band’s seventh album.
Later in 2017, the band released its eighth studio album, In Spades. In Spades was also issued through Sub Pop Records. The album rose to position one hundred and eight on the Billboard 200. In Spades also managed to rise to the fifty-fifth spot on the UK Albums chart. “Demon in Profile” and “Oriole” are some of the best The Afghan Whigs songs from the album.
A few days ago, the band announced its upcoming album, How Do You Burn? The album is scheduled to feature several hits released recently, including “I’ll Make You See God” and “The Getaway.”
The Afghan Whigs’ Other Musical Pursuits
Over the years, The Afghan Whigs has interacted with several rock artists, including opening for acts including Aerosmith. Vocalist Greg Dulli went on to form his side project, The Twilight Singers. The Twilight Singers was most active during The Afghan Whigs’ hiatus days. Greg was also a member of the now-defunct band The Gutter Twins.
Additionally, Greg has produced music for the Italian alternative rock ensemble Afterhours. The vocalist has also collaborated several times with Joseph Arthur and Mark Lanegan. Patrick Keeler, the band’s drummer, is best known for his successful releases with other artists, including The Raconteurs, Loretta Lynn, The Greenhornes, and Jack White.
The Afghan Whigs’ Accolades and Legacy
The Afghan Whigs has failed to attract any awards throughout its over thirty years in the music scene. However, the band retains a cult following thanks to its alluring post-punk/alternative rock-oriented music. While the band might have created a reputation in the post-punk and alternative rock music genres, The Afghan Whigs remains one of the unrestrictive bands in terms of its music genre choice.
This follows the band taking on grunge, indie rock, and R&B-oriented music. The Afghan Whigs has also covered songs by The Rolling Stones, Prince, The Supremes, The Fugees, PJ Harvey, and TLC, all of which fall under different music genres. Jimmy Eat World, My Chemical Romance, The Horrible Crowes, and The National have all cited The Afghan Whigs as an influence. Here we present the ten biggest hits from The Afghan Whigs.
#10 – Going to Town
Ushering us to the top 10 The Afghan Whigs songs is the ravishing hit “Going to Town.” The song is featured on the band’s fifth LP, Black Love. “Going to Town” was penned by Greg Dulli. On this hit, Greg Dulli is joined by Shawn Smith on the vocals. Other than leading a solo career, Shawn Smith has also been a member of The Twilight Singers, Satchel, Brad, and Pigeonhed. Smith and Greg deliver some rip-roaring vocals, which add glamour to the song’s overall feel.
#9 – Conjure Me
Congregation is home to our ninth pick for the ten biggest songs by The Afghan Whigs, “Conjure Me.” The song was used alongside “Turn On the Water” as a promotional single for the album. Like most of the songs from the album, “Conjure Me” is penned from a narcissistic standpoint. The singer’s angst can be felt in his vocals. “Conjure Me” is among the songs that marked the band’s rise to musical and lyrical excellence.
#8 – Gentlemen
Our eighth spot on the ten best songs from The Afghan Whigs is the hit “Gentlemen.” The song serves as the lead track to the band’s fourth studio album. “Gentlemen” oozes distress owing to its lyrics that show the culmination of a romantic relationship. Greg revealed that he penned the song while in Tampa, Florida. The singer delivers angst-filled vocals as he sings through the lyrics that allude to an end of a toxic relationship.
#7 – Oriole
Impressive is the one word that fully describes our seventh pick on the ten best songs from The Afghan Whigs, “Oriole.” The song is featured on the band’s seventh studio album, In Spades. One of the reasons the song is highly rated by the band’s fans is its rich and magnificent instrumentation. Other than the guitar, drums, and the bass, “Oriole” also features some mellotron, cello, violin, and viola sounds. Greg is also joined by David Rosser on the vocals, helping establish great musicianship on this track.
#6 – Somethin’ Hot
Number six on our top 10 The Afghan Whigs songs list is the dazzling hit “Somethin’ Hot.” The song was penned by the band’s vocalist Greg Dulli, who also did its production work. “Somethin’ Hot” is featured on the band’s 1998 LP, 1965. The song marks the band’s biggest hit, released through Columbia Records. “Somethin’ Hot” features some of the purest and most powerful alternative rock sounds by the band.
#5 – Demon in Profile
In Spades is also home to our fifth pick for the best ten The Afghan Whigs songs, “Demon in Profile.” The song brings to the audience the band’s signature deep melancholy and inspirational alternative rock sonic feels. Other than Greg’s spiraling vocal delivery, the song features great instrumentation. The song’s video features Har Mar Superstar, who appears as a rock frontman.
#4 – Matamoros
After sixteen years without releasing any music, The Afghan Whigs were back with the LP, Do to the Beast. The band lived up to the album’s title by delivering a bravura performance on most songs from the album. Among the songs that stand out from the LP, Do to the Beast include “Matamoros.” The song was penned by Greg Dulli. Despite being a raging hit, “Matamoros” still manages to feature a punky vibe. “Matamoros” has its lyrics alluding to rising above a toxic relationship.
#3 – Honky’s Ladder
On the third spot of our ten most brilliant songs from The Afghan Whigs is the hit “Honky’s Ladder.” The song is featured on the band’s LP, Black Love. “Honky’s Ladder” is a ferocious hit penned by Greg Dulli. Other than his pounding vocals on his hit, Greg joins Rick McCollum on the guitar. Both deliver magnificent guitar riffs that take the song’s melody to a rare yet great sonic space. “Honky’s Ladder” rose to number twenty-nine on the Billboard alternative airplay. The song also missed the top 100 songs on the UK Singles chart by only nine positions.
#2 – Algiers
“Algiers” is among the most popular hits from the band’s reunion album, Do to the Beast. This cinematic hit was penned by Greg Dulli. Without a doubt, Greg’s vocals got even better on this song. Like most of the songs from Do to the Beast, “Algiers” features some intensity not seen in most of the band’s hits. This heart-rending features an aesthetically rich accompanying music video.
#1 – Debonair
Number one on our top 10 The Afghan Whigs songs is the amazing hit “Debonair.” The song is featured on the band’s first charting LP, Gentlemen. “Debonair” was penned by Greg Dulli, who went on to reveal that the song was musically inspired by “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5. The song is arguably the most successful hit by the band, having it peak at number eighteen on the Billboard Alternative Airplay chart.
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