Cover Versions, Hard-to-find

Flip Yer Whig

Being the totally shallow person that I am, one of the cooler records in my collections is the Afghan WhigsUptown Avondale 7″ single. On the Sub Pop label. On red vinyl.

Released in 1992, Uptown Avondale was the perfect distilation of the Afghan Whigs’ blend of Sabbath-heavy riffs fighting it out for centre stage with Stax and Motown soul tinges. Was it grunge/soul? Was it soul/grunge? It doesn’t really matter because to these ears it sounded fantastic.


The 7″ features 2 tracks. On the one side, a feedback-soaked minor key version of Freda Payne’s perennial disco classic Band Of Gold. Where the original is heartbreak sung euphorically, this version is half the tempo, half the euphoria but twice the heartbreak. I dug out my single last night and fired up the old Dansette. The single is one of those jukebox singles that’s missing the centre piece. I used to have one of those bits, but somewhere down the line it’s disappeared. I put it on anyway, thinking that the rubber mat on the turntable would keep it in place. Woah! “Noooowwwww ttttthhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaattttt yooooouuuuuu’vvvvveeee gggggaaaaaawwwwwwwnnnnnn aaaaaaallllll ttttttthhhhhhaaaaaaaaaattttt iiiiiiissssss llllllleeeeeeeeffffffftttttt iiiiissss aaaa bbbbbaaaaaannnnnddddd  ooooooffff gggggggoooooollllllldddddd.” I had to take it off. It sounded even more downbeat, depressing and deranged than ever. Thankfully, the mp3 sounds the way the Whigs intended.

afghan whigs

The flip side is even better. Here, they do a version of The Supreme’s Come See About Me. Whereas the original is all finger-clickin’ hip-shakin’ innocent teenage joy, the Whigs’ version sounds totally dangerous. The drums at the start don’t have the pistol crack that you’ll be familiar with, you’ll need to add your own handclaps, guitar riffs replace the rinky-dink piano trills and backing vocals are whispered with an air of menace rather than sung with innocent joy. “Come see about me” they implore. Eh, I’d rather not, thank you very much. It’s still soul music Jim, but not as we know it. It also happens to be in my Top 10 favourite tracks ever.

afghan whigs live

If you bought the 12″, you’d also find 2 extra tracks. This, their excellent though downbeat (of course) version of Al Green’s Beware and this, their faithful reworking of yer actual Elvis’ True Love Travels On A Gravel Road. Spooky keyboards. Descending bassline. Heartfelt vocals. All in a minor key. Again.

And if you bought the CD single, there’s a hidden track right at the end, a remix of the band’s own Milez Is Dead. Renamed Rebirth Of The Cool (see what they did there?) it’s apparent they’ve been listening to no less than Fools Gold. Aye! Funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter, some might say.  With added heroin.

4 thoughts on “Flip Yer Whig”

  1. Cool posting! It’s funny that II brought this in the car to listen to today…I remember the day this came out (Nov. 92) how psyched I was and even non-grunge fans in my dorm liked this EP and had me tape it for them. Good stuff.

  2. I love most of Dulli’s output has a knack for interpretation as can be seen on the 3rd Twilight Singers album. Have been lucky enough to have seen the Afghan Whigs once, and the Twilight Singers on 4 ocassions, have never disappointed. Although the last time I saw him with the Gutter Twins his voice was shot to hell.

    Check out the Afghan Whigs covers of The Ass Ponys – Mr Superlove and lost in the Supermarket by The Clash.

  3. I actually think the version of “Come See About Me” is more desperate than scary-sounding. Good call on the “Fool’s Gold” reference on “Rebirth Of The Cool.”

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