HOSTAGE MUSIC 7.11.11 from the band / 27.2.12 in the shops

You kind of know what to expect from the Alabama 3 – big, baggy, dancey tunes that swing like the appendage of a donkey. But then, they work at staying at least a bit up to date, so there’s always some more contemporary beats – but not so contemporary they’ll put a cramp in your step at one of their legendary gigs.

Have You Been Having A Nightmare? asks the opening track. Well, yes we have. We had a dream of riots and a feral underclass running up the street with a pair of looted trainers. Or was it a dream that we were ruled entirely by millionaires, ruling in the interests of their friends. Or maybe it was a dream that we were caught in the middle, not knowing which way to jump. Alabama 3 know which way they want to go – flying the pirate flag high, they’ve themed the whole album and stolen uncredited samples for every track. A sixteen year old band and they’ve indulged in a traditionally juvenile activity. Larry Love says “the only original thing on this LP is the barcode”. “If any single artist wants to sue us, all of them will have to sue us. We’ll have hundreds of lawsuits. It’ll be a circus. Ha. Bring ‘em on.” Do I need to point out that there are hours of geeky fun here, playing spot the sample – is it Dolly Parton, Motorhead, Status Quo, Hawkwind, George Harrison….?

The main thing is…. This album has all the Alabama 3 tropes, allied to some new tricks and is unmistakeably theirs. What’s more; it swings hard, making for head-nodding pleasure at home, dancefloor action at a gig. Even in a slower shuffle, there’s a swing. And the album has Bez reading from The Sermon On The Mount, Ray Winstone reading from Exodus and Martina Cole on Mary Magdalene.

There’s a lot of style in the brazen stealing, the tongue-half-in-cheek lyrics, the continued Alabama 3 groove. Could the return of a Tory government be a return to the heady days of the band’s debut under the fading sun of an outgoing Tory administration? Have the Brixton fires lit a fire under the band. Maybe laconic attitude and Acid Country Music is the way to survive the years to come – it’s worked for Larry Love, the Rev Dr. D. Wayne Love & Co.

Ross McGibbon