College Countdown: 90FM’s Top 90 of 1996, 10 and 9

10. The Afghan Whigs, Black Love

Black Love was the second album Afghan Whigs released with Elektra Records, and it would prove to their last such collaboration with the major label. Greg Dulli’s band had been snapped up by Elektra after a significant bidding war, releasing the 1993 album Gentlemen, which could be termed a modest commercial breakthrough. The group largely had the rock critic community enthralled, but they were denied the sort of huge success that other “alternative” acts were enjoying in the grunge era, perhaps because their take on dark, thick rock ‘n’ roll was notable for its more intricate, interesting layers of soulfulness. That wasn’t going to fly in Pearl Jam’s radio kingdom. Black Love was inspired in part by Dulli’s interest in moviemaking, particular the notion of a modern film noir, giving songs like “Crime Scene Part One” (supposedly inspired by the then-famously-unproduced screenplay for The Million Dollar Hotel) and “Faded” an almost cinematic heft. Black Love failed to build on the commercial promise of its predecessor (even with the boost a few months later of a fine supplemental EP release that had, among other things, a sharp, cool cover of a TLC hit), leading Dulli and his bandmates to turn against the label, charging them with promotional neglect. They managed to part ways, recording their next full-length for Columbia. There wasn’t that much time left for the band anyway, with the official announcement of a break-up arriving in 2001. There have been the expected occasional reunions, and Dulli has largely occupied his time since with both the Twilight Singers and the Gutter Twins, neither of which has garnered admiration quite on par with the Afghan Whigs.

9. Les Claypool and the Holy Mackerel, Highball with the Devil

Before the Fearless Flying Frog Brigade and Oysterhead and Electric Apricot and Bucket and Bernie Brains and Duo de Twang and god knows what else, this was all bassist Les Claypool had away from his day job, Primus. Considered his solo debut, Highball with the Devil delivered all the funky weirdness fans of Claypool and his band were surely expecting, along with the dopey sense of humor, of course. Surely someone out there can offer a thoughtful explanation of how this album is interestingly different from any number of other releases that bear Claypool’s sonic signature, but–aside from noting a cover that looks like it was barely upgraded from its certain late night bar napkin concept sketch–I’m willing to concede that the task is beyond me.

An Introduction
–90 and 89: Antichrist Superstar and Three Snakes and One Charm
–88 and 87: No Code and Unplugged
–86 and 85: Greatest Hits Live and Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts
–84 and 83: To the Faithful Departed and God’s Good Urges
–82 and 81: Billy Breathes and Sweet F.A.
–80 and 79: The Process and Test for Echo
–78 and 77: Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds and Breathe
–76 and 75: Bob Mould and Walking Wounded
–74 and 73: It’s Martini Time and Trainspotting soundtrack
–72 and 71: Aloha Via Satellite and Fever In Fever Out
–70 and 69: Hi My Name is Jonny and One Mississippi
–68 and 67: Everything Sucks and The Aeroplane Flies High
–66 and 65: First Band on the Moon and Razorblade Suitcase
–64 and 63: Comic Book Whore and Peachfuzz
–62 and 61: All Change and Rude Awakening
–60 and 59: 12 Golden Country Greats and Songs in the Key of X
–58 and 57: Brain Candy soundtrack and Pinkerton
–56 and 55: Sublime and Count the Days
–54 and 53: Wild Mood Swings and The Cult of Ray
–52 and 51: Bringing Down the Horse and Crash
–50 and 49: No Talking, Just Head and New Adventures in Hi-Fi
–48 and 47: Lay It Down and Pogue Mahone
–46 and 45: I’m with Stupid and XTORT
–44 and 43: Tango and …finally
–42 and 41: Good Weird Feeling and Mint 400
–40 and 39: Happy Nowhere and Not Fade Away (Remembering Buddy Holly)
–38 and 37: Turn the Radio Off and Electriclarryland
–36 and 35: Naughty Little Doggie and In Blue Cave
–34 and 33: Eventually and Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks
–32 and 31: Beautiful Girls soundtrack and Strat’s Got Your Tongue
–30 and 29: Upstroke for the Downfolk and Set the Twilight Reeling
–28 and 27: Born on a Pirate Ship and The Golden Age
–26 and 25: Ænima and Dead Man Walking soundtrack
–24 and 23: Victor and Songs for Pele
–22 and 21: Down on the Upside and Music for Our Mother Ocean
–20 and 19: Supercop soundtrack and Dust
–18 and 17: Remember and A Worm’s Life
–16 and 15: William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet and Saturday Morning: Cartoons’ Greatest Hits
–14 and 13: Down By the Old Mainstream and The Gray Race
–12 and 11: Star Maps and Car Button Cloth

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