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Hank Williams sings the Lovesick Blues...
Released in September 2000 on Elemental Records
- Too Sick Too Pray
- Mansion On The Hill mp3 player
- Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlife
- Walking In My Sleep
- Wade Into The Water
- Hotel California
- Cocaine (Killed My Community) mp3 player
- The Thrills Have Gone
- Strange mp3 player
- Woke Up This Morning
Despite the rather downbeat Camus-inspired title and lyrical content, Alabama 3’s second album still shows off their trademark uplifting quality, albeit in a “Screamadelica”-style fusion of euphoria and melancholy. Songs like SAD EYED LADY OF THE LOWLIFE and recent single TOO SICK TO PRAY have a gospel-like hugeness about them, while WADE INTO THE WATER and MANSION ON THE HILL twang with countrified swagger.
The album runs the gamut of emotions in the face of adversity: from the incandescent beauty of the shimmering WALKING IN MY SLEEP and the closing SINKING…” to the claustrophobic beats of COCAINE (KILLED MY COMMUNITY) and the energy rush of STRANGE, adding a sense of dope-fuelled urban paranoia.Of particular note are a twisted beat-heavy cover of the Eagles’ HOTEL CALIFORNIA, throwing a totally new slant on the song as the last cocaine-addled stop on the country musician’s road to oblivion, and THE THRILLS HAVE GONE, whose spoken word contribution from Birmingham 6 survivor Paddy Hill brings into focus exactly what the band mean when they talk about injustice.
LA PESTE (THE PLAGUE) may well be HIV, computer viruses or simply a global decline in justice and morality, but Alabama 3 are imploring us to come together and get loaded anyway. After all, we all have to die sometime.
Larry, D Wayne and co. sound even more cohesive than they did the last time. Their acid-house-country-rock-hip-hop sound no longer surprises, this time it just impresses. "La Peste" is a well executed, well thought out evolution from "Cold Harbour Lane". There's echoes of the past, but it's smoother, sleeker and, somewhat surprisingly, more serious. First sign of that is in the title, taken from the classic novel by Albert Camus (known as "The Plague" in English).
The biting satire of tracks like 'Mao Tse Tung said' or 'Ain't going to Goa' is replaced by more considered musings on issues like inequality ('Mansion on the hill'), excess ('Sad eyed lady of the lowlife') and even love ('Wade into the water'). However, it's not a dried up, humourless outing. They can mix seriousness with funky grooves, and the humour hasn't departed completely. There's a vicious parody of religious faith ignoring social problems ('Cocaine (killed my community)') and a kick-ass techno version of the Eagles "classic" 'Hotel California', which has none of the reverence their version of 'Speed to the sound of loneliness' paid to John Prine. However, their version does show what a great slice of paranoid cocaine isolation the lyrics are.
However, it's impossible to be all smiles when one of the tracks, 'The thrills have gone' features a spoken word vocal from Paddy Hill of the Birmingham 6 talking about his fears for his family's safety when he was arrested. Alabama 3 have got something to say, and their newfound success gives them a platform from which to say them. The question is, will anybody listen? Or even more importantly, as posed by the short essay on the inlay card, will their newfound American fans even get what their on about? If not, who cares really, it'll be our little secret. Alabama 3 - Approved!