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I was already feeling burnt out on rock lit by the time Continuum started publishing their 33 1/3 series, so it took me a long time to connect with it. Plus Loveless didn’t change my life, and I’d like to never read another word about Pet Sounds. As the series has evolved, though, it’s drawn me in–In the Aeroplane Over the Sea was an interesting case study on the relationship between artist and fan, and Paul’s Boutique had some funny stories about the Beastie Boys being messed up on drugs.
But the first one I was ever like, “Fuck yeah” about when I got it in the mail was Bob Gendron’s entry on the Afghan Whigs’ Gentlemen, an album I have listened to front to back more times than almost any other. I am simply a freak for that record. It’s messy and conflicted and pretty much unfuckwithable as a whole. I am in fact almost completely ignorant of the rest of the Afghan Whigs discography, which may seem odd, but if I’m going to listen to the Whigs I don’t see why I should do anything but go for the gold.
Gendron is the only person I’ve met or have heard of who is as insane about Gentlemen as I am. His book is an obsessive making-of documentary fleshed out with large chunks of interview with the surprisingly forthcoming members of the band. He’s not a complete fanboy, and rightly calls Greg Dulli out for his bad behavior and occasional misogyny. He also gets a little overheated sometimes, and the gimmick he uses to begin and finish the book are a little much, but I understand. It’s fucking Gentlemen, dude.
As with most 33 1/3 books, you have to be pretty into the band in order to really get into the book, but I’d recommend that even nonfans check it out just for the part where Dulli lays down the vocals for like half the record in one session while out of his mind on cocaine in an attempt to impress a stripper. Any dude who uses, “Angel, come closer / So the stink of your lies / Sinks into my memory,” as a pickup line is some piece of work.
More of Gendron’s Whigs obsession is revealed in an interview here.