Alright, some fans fall into the "Gentlemen" camp, and it's certainly a classic album - consistently good songs all the way through, Greg Dulli in perfect self-loathing form, etcetera. Others fall into the "Black Love" camp because it's a fantastically dark, if overblown, caricature of Greg Dulli's persona - menacing, pleading, hypersexualized, and excruciatingly out of key. "Congregation" is a worthy choice as well, the grittiest and grungiest of them all, not to mention the near-perfect "Jesus Christ Superstar" cover.
I love all of these albums, but "1965" is the one that I pop into the CD player most frequently. The lyrics seem a bit trite compared to the brooding "Black Love" and desperate "Gentlemen" - an acquaintance of mine, whom I forced to listen to "1965," called it a "40-minute pick-up line," which probably isn't far from the truth. But frankly, I couldn't care less, because this album has that indescribable groove that compels you to shake your ass and sing along. Many musical elements absent in past Whigs recordings - the sultry female backup singers, screeching horns, all products of the New Orleans backdrop - shine through in "1965" and help Greg Dulli effortlessly channel the soul, funk, and R&B that came so naturally to the "Uptown Avondale" EP but were forcibly and often awkwardly incorporated into the "Black Love" recording sessions.
Words can only describe these intangible feelings so much. Just listen to the album and wait for those moments of transcendence, like the soaring chorus to "Uptown Again," or when the female vocalist coos alongside the mantra "I've got the Devil in me, girl" on "John the Baptist," or Greg Dulli's anguished "yeah, yeah, yeah" as his voice drowns amidst the squealing horns and careening guitars in the final minute of "Omerta." There's nothing like 'em on any of the other Whigs releases, and that's why "1965" is their standout record.