Formed by a Welsh man Rob Spragg AKA Larry Love (who really was the son of a preacher man) and a Scotsman, Jake Black AKA The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love in Brixton, London in the mid 90s, their debut album Exile on Cold Harbour Lane spawned the track Woke Up This Morning which was used for the TV series The Sopranos. Critics thought they were a novelty act that wouldn’t last but 20 years later they’re still proving them wrong and are about to release their 13th album Blues with a UK and Ireland tour to follow. With their brand of dark, sleazy rhythms combining a mixture of country/gospel/techno and acid house they have continued to excite audiences worldwide.
Track one I’ll Never Be Satisfied kicks off with their own definitive brand of diirrty sounding techno rock. Larry Love sings controversially of rock n roll deaths as if he were the character Death in a Terry Pratchett film: “It was me who put the poison in the swimming pool” as he croons about famous singers meeting their demise from Brian Jones, Billie Holliday through to Lemmy. Second track Exodus has their trademark Delta blues gospel meets acid house sound “Praise the Lord, pass the ammunition” and, quite simply rocks. Rattlesnake Woman is raunchy and riveting as it comes in with a slide guitar and harmonica. I love the line “She a Rattlesnake Woman, she’s got a forked tongue wider than the River Wyoming”. This would be great to dance to drinking some whiskey and has a notable middle keyboard section.
Nothing to Lose But Your Chains pays reference to the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster in South Wales where a colliery spoil tip collapsed engulfing a school killing 116 children and 28 adults. It really pulled on the emotions (especially as I hail from South Wales) and the introduction gave me goose bumps. It soon develops into a techno acid driven track. Their lyrics and music are so heartfelt. You cannot deny Alabama’s passion. Forever in Blues commences sombrely. “I should go home now but I’m too lonely now”. It mirrors that wonderful harmonica solo in the theme to Midnight Cowboy by Nilsson. Johnny Cash would likely be singing this if he were still alive. The song physically aches with melancholy. “Oh love it really hurts without you. Me, I live forever in blues”.
Vigilant Man’s introduction is Johnny Cash again meets a mournful spaghetti western. The famous gravelly vocals are abundant here as the song rolls along. I like the way Jonestown Blues sounds like it’s going to be down and dirty Delta blues (with a Lenny Kravitz style vocal introduction) and then develops an air of funk that was unexpected. The protagonist wails about downing a bottle of rye as he can’t stop a Rising Tide. This is a clever mix of soulful blues and electronica almost like Tangerine Dream in places. I really like this one. Blues doesn’t disappoint. After 20 years Alabama 3 have clearly demonstrated they have still got what it takes. Long may they thrive.
Listen to XS Noize Podcast: #14: Larry Love talks about 20 years in The Alabama 3 BELOW:
NOV 11TH LIMELIGHT, BELFAST
NOV 12TH ACADEMY, DUBLIN
NOV 17TH O2 ACADEMY, BIRMINGHAM
NOV 18TH O2 ACADEMY, NEWCASTLE
NOV 19TH O2 THE RITZ, MANCHESTER
NOV 24TH O2 ACADEMY, LEICESTER
NOV 25TH O2 ACADEMY, OXFORD
NOV 26TH O2 ACADEMY, LEEDS
DEC 02ND O2 ACADEMY, BRISTOL
DEC 03RD O2 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE, LONDON
DEC 10TH O2 ABC GLASGOW