good as an introduction to an extraordinary band...
Lynsey Ure

11:02 21st April 2008

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Formed in South London, when the son of a Welsh Mormon Preacher meets the offspring of a Glaswegian trades unionist at an acid house party in Peckham. Jake Black (The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love) and Robert Spragg (Larry Love) rapidly embarked on a venture fusing musical styles of acid, country and gospel which following what was known between the band as the “wilderness years”, the band expanded into a Brixton based collective and they called themselves Alabama 3. Alabama 3 were dismissed widely in the media as a novelty act, the band eventually signed to One Little Indian records in 1997 and the debut album 'Exile On Cardharbour Lane' was released.

Since then Alabama 3 have had 6 studio albums which includes last years M.O.R which received strong critical acclaim. Fans include authors Stephen King and Irvine Welsh who has been quoted referring to them as “ the first band I could ever dance to in the daytime hours without chemical assistance. That says a lot”. 11 years on and Alabama 3 are releasing 'Hits And Exit Wounds' in celebration of a long, esteemed and wholly unique career that has seen them dubbed “the best live band in Britain”. This retrospective album runs to 18 tracks and constitutes highlights of there career plus a collaboration with Orbital on 'Ska’d For Life'.
Opening the superb collection of funky beats and gospel melodies, 'Hypo Full Of Love (The 12 Step Plan)' the renowned party-ready tune which draws you in with its lyrics tempting and teasing you into believing that you need this tune in your life, just like the drug references heavily portrayed throughout the lyrics. As this wets your appetite you are quickly merged into without a doubt there best known track to date. 'Woke Up This Morning' is widely recognised as the Sopranos Theme Tune, however when played in full the track lends more depth with its spoken intro and “rap” interlude over acid bass and vocals not unlike heroes Johnny Cash and Hank Williams “ …You woke up this morning, The world turned upside down, Thing's ain't been the same, Since the blues walked into town”.

In tribute to Johnny, the track 'Hello … I’m Johnny Cash', a song which bases its lyrical reference to songs such as Jackson, A Boy Named Sue and Ring of Fire was first presented on the 2005 album Outlaw and allowed the band to pay there mark of respect to the life of Johnny Cash. Pionneering the spirit of Johnny Cash is very apparent in the back catalugue of Alabama 3 and the bands recent gig at Brixton Prison is neither ther first nor the only time they've been flying the flag for Johnny. 'To Sick to Pray' a modern day gospel track inspired by Mr Cash that see's Larry Love setting the party vibe again and bellows in the chorus "Just Cause I burnt My Bible baby/it doesn't mean I'm to Sick to Pray".
'Mansion On The Hill' has had a dance floor shake up from its usually bland self, and moves away from almost sounding like a Fun Loving Criminals B-Side to an up to date party tune which is evident from its brighter intro and energetic drums throughout. The little walk through history see’s tracks such as 'U Don’t Danse To Teckno Anymore', 'How Can I Protect You' highlight there country routes along with 'Woody Guthrie' yet another tribute, this time to the late Woody Guthrie the Americana singer songwriter, and following previous styles, the track has lyrics based on Woody’s music and heavily showing that the band had a strong political message to give “Don't need no country, Don't fly no flag, Cut no slack for the Union Jack. Stars and stripes have got me jetlagged”.

Closing is the beautiful 'Peace In The Valley', showing Larry Love’s vocal talent as pure and perfect as his main influence Mr Cash. With a spiritual plea and heart felt lyrics ….. “But there's gonna be peace in the valley tomorrow. Lord, 'cos tonight we're gonna blow it all away. We feel so fuckin' twisted, we ain't ever gonna fix it, We're just waiting for the light to shine on a brand new day. “ … placed gently over simple harmonica and tasty piano shows that often simplicity is best. 'Hits And Exit Wounds' is good as an introduction to an extraordinary band or a trip down memory lane for there followers along the way. The retrospective collection provides as many tracks that are as Sunday Morning, as Saturday Night, showing the well embossed talent that Alabama 3 have worked hard on over the years.

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