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IT'S A HIT MAN!

EVENING HERALD September 13th 2007  Review by Eamon Carr

They say they met in rehab, and Alabama 3 certainly show signs of badness.

I'll bet you thought this sort of thing had gone away, had been obliterated by the shameless celebrity rat race pop music has become.  I'd bet you thought that the mavericks had been driven so far underground that we'd never again be tainted by their crackpot and subversive schemes.
Wrong, of course.  Just look in the sea off our glorious beaches.  Turds, used condoms and medical waste float on the surface.
Just as the Alabama 3's self-styled "sweet motherf***** country acid house music" clings to the charts and public consciousness.
These reprobates insist they met in rehab.  Which could well be true since their musical influences are the sort one normally associates with deadbeats or dodgy market-stallholders.
Their roots are in the genres that make Dad Rock seem avant garde. But these party animals are folk-possessed.  They speak in tongues and on this album they've shown they can perform miracles.
They're not pretty boys.  They're not part of a current fashion movement.  They're unlikely to be invited to Downing Street by the British prime minister.  Unless he wants a bunch of ratcatchers in the house.


MANIC
However, on M.O.R. this outfit has created not just their best album yet but also a set of tunes that spectacularly define their manic world view... if a mashed up manifesto that boasts religion, sex, drugs and hard liquor as it's core-creed can be described as manic.
They're canny song-crafters, these Brixton-based crypto Situationists.
Woke Up This Morning, the song which introduced every episode of The Sopranos, is theirs.  It was their inspired response to a story of a woman who shot dead her abusive husband after 20 years of bullying. "Woke up this morning, got yourself a gun..."


FUNKY
That song has been around since 1997.  Ten years of this madness has been poured into the cocktail that's M.O.R.  And it hits the spot.  They have no pretensions but on a song such as Monday Don't Mean Anything To Me, the band show how they can stitch a subversive chorus to a trembling funk groove and, inexplicably, a ragga toast and still come out ahead of the posse.  It's quite simply the funkiest Monday song yet.  And will live long after the band have gone to heaven, hell or whichever after-life plane they've booked tickets for.
Analysing Middle Of The Road, the album title track, for forensic clues, you'll discover a precarious country-rock choogler that sounds like The Eagles being scraped under a crackhouse door.  "Mister Crosby's on the freebase," they croak.  "Let it go, you can do it."
Alabama 3 deal with the warped mythologies of the underbelly of Americana.


MOAN
The characters who people their songs are damaged and in no small need of salvation.  "I've got to keep those Christmas lights up in my head," is the moan of desperation heard on the mutant gospel song Holy Blood.
The band cleverly take the relics of blues and country and pass them through a Frankenstein laboratory with dramatic results.
Lockdown plays up the band's urban desperado schtik to perfection.
Blippy electro gives way to an old-skool, brass-driven bongo beat as Larry Love tells his smashed lover the way he sees it.  "You're on lockdown, you're loaded, but I love you."


SIGNPOSTS
There are some obvious signposts for those in the know.  It would seem Alabama 3 have arrived at this particular juke-joint via Dr John's Gris-Gris, Link Wray's Three Track Shack and, maybe, Jim White's Wrong-Eyed Jesus.
Their covers of Jimmy Reed's Amos Moses, a murky remake of a song about an alligator-hunter, and Gil Scott-Heron's The Klan, a twanging country hoedown swing, are inspired travelogues that serve the Alabama 3 cause well.
Author Irvine Welsh claims they're the only band he can dance to in the daylight without chemical assistance.  That being so, you might want to check out their Green Synergy gig at Tripod next month.

Certainly M.O.R. doesn't disappoint.