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The Afghan Whigs, ‘See and Don’t See’ – Song Review

'See and Don't See'

The Afghan Whigs return with their first new music in five years — although, it just so happens that the release isn’t a new tune at all. ‘See and Don’t See’ was originally recorded in 1970 by Marie “Queenie” Lyons, an enigma of a soul singer from the South who recorded one fantastic album, ‘Soul Fever,’ before pretty much vanishing off the face off the Earth. The disc, which featured ‘See and Don’t See,’ languished in obscurity for decades before gradually being discovered by new generations of fans. It’s since become a cult classic.

And it’s a perfect choice for the Whigs to cover ahead of their comeback tour. Much like Lyons, the Whigs never got the mainstream respect they deserved, despite recording some of the best underground rock around for the better part of a decade. After splitting in 2001, they seemed destined to remain nothing but a ’90s footnote, but renewed interest has inspired the band to reunite this summer and hit the road — they currently have about a nearly 30 shows lined up in the States and Europe.

The Whigs started off playing raucous, booze-drenched ’70s rock, gradually turning down the volume and adding not-so-subtle (but amazingly authentic) flourishes of blues and soul over the course of a six-album run. The band’s take on ‘See and Don’t See’ wisely stays away from trying for any grand, unifying gestures that ties their back story together, instead finding one thing that they do — a hauntingly soulful, acoustic ballad — and doing it well.

The Afghan Whigs explored too many avenues to travel down them all on one tune, and new fans looking to experience all facets have a half-dozen albums to keep them busy long after the band vanishes once again.

Listen to the Afghan Whigs’ ‘See and Don’t See’

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8 out of 10 rating

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