The Upshot: Expanded and reissued, a ’96 gem shines once again. (Above is the Record Store Day artwork; scroll down to view the original ’93 sleeve art and the upcoming art slated for the Dec. 2 release.)
BY JONATHAN LEVITT
A record that still sounds as fresh as it did back in 1996 (when I was just a wee lad), Black Love “wasn’t Gentlemen II,” according to Rhino and Mute, which have reissued the album in the U.S. and the U.K., respectively, in time for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event (Nov. 25), and will subsequently put it back into general release on Dec. 2. But in essence, I see this as dovetailing perfectly with that 1993 album, originally issued by Elektra.
For this 20th anniversary edition as a triple LP (or double CD) deluxe release, Black Love has been expanded to 20 tracks. Tracks like “My Enemy” and “Double Day” show vocalist Greg Dulli in scathing, soul searching mode, very much inhabiting the misogynistic role he played on Gentlemen. “Honky’s Ladder” is the apex of the album, spitting vitriol with the angst tightly torqued to 10. Here, the guitars are a river of molten lava over which Dulli can administer his candid exhortations. Of the nine bonus tracks, demos for the album, the best is “I Often Think of You,” which is a scorcher of a jam with wah-wah pedal squalls that blow up and then dissipate like a desert thunderstorm.
I am as enamored by the playing on this record as I was with 1992’s Congregation and the aforementioned Gentlemen— perhaps even 2014 reunion album Do To the Beast. The band has always been there to provide more than just support for Dulli’s vocals; they meet his visceral energy measure for measure. On Black Love they perfectly tweaked their energy to create something singular in vision—and vital to this day.
DOWNLOAD: “My Enemy,” “Double Day,” “Honky’s Ladder,” “Summer’s Kiss,” “I Often Think of You” (Below: original and new (Dec. 2) album sleeves)