One month ago, Vanyaland asked readers to weigh in on whether Afghan Whigs’ frontman Greg Dulli was a hero or a villain. Celebrating the return of one of the most appreciated acts to come out of the last few decades, an extremely limited edition — just 50 copies exist — white label vinyl test pressing of the band’s first album in 16 years, Do to the Beast, was offered up for a solid answer.
It wasn’t the easiest question to answer, especially considering that the subject here has delivered such contrasting lines from the oft-cited, ”I got a dick for a brain/and my brain is gonna sell my ass to you,” from Gentlemen’s “Be Sweet” to the newer, “Say you’ll love me tonight/Save your love for me tonight,” from latest single “Algiers.”
We received dozens of entries that ranged from the mildly annoyed (“What difference does it make?” said a dude who apparently had no interest in winning) to the over the top strange (one person did a whole chapter of Dulli related fan fiction).
In the end, we chose Elizabeth D. from Charlotte, NC who started off with, “One of my favorite Greg Dulli lines is “Do you think I’m beautiful? Or do you think I’m evil?” It’s a complex question that always elicits the same simple answer from me. YES.” That’s a pretty encapsulating way of describing the intricacies of one of the more polarizing figures in music.
“Greg Dulli’s music remains a study in paradoxes,” Elizabeth said. “Potent, kinetic, and all-out glorious, it is a constant exploration of dark vs. light. His songwriting lives in that oft-mentioned “grey area” – the place where he, and most of humanity, wrestle with right and wrong, love and lust, kill or be killed. Brief, unadulterated glimpses of each side do appear, but for the most part, he’s writhing around in the space between – in the trenches, in the struggle. I find that willingness to live it so openly, so tragically, heroic.”
“Dulli weaves a tapestry of ambiguity and metaphor that blurs both sides of the coin. Illogically, even teasingly, he transforms tumult into rapture [and] then dives into the abyss once again. When the ride is over, we’re shaken and stirred, but also twistedly joyful. It’s ugly, but beautiful. Scary, but fulfilling. Infuriating, but rewarding. It’s out there and he’s not apologizing.”
“So, is Greg Dulli a hero or a villain? YES.”
Great answer Elizabeth. Your test pressing of Do to the Beast is on its way.
The Whigs themselves just wrapped up two weekends worth of Coachella performances accented by a few West Coast dates. The meat of the Do to the Beast tour kicks off in the middle of next month with a handful of East Coast gigs – including a May 16 Paradise gig – before heading over to Europe for the summer.