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Alabama 3
Hits And Exit Wounds
One Little Indian
www.alabama3.co.uk


You know Alabama 3, whether you know it or not, because you haven't been living under a rock for the past 15 years… right? They are the groovy band responsible for that great theme song used in The Sopranos. That's right, the one you crank up in your car any time you hear it because it rocks so darn good. Well, the band has been around for a long time, doing what they do best… creating groovy tunes with hints of soul and funk and gospel bedded in a deep holler of Americana and techno. They're awesome… and the "greatest hits" collection Hits And Exit Wounds is a short introduction to exactly why the band is so great. I haven't heard their last two releases, as they were never brought stateside, but the first two records were stables in my younger listening catalog. The unique blending of seemingly disparate styles is what draws me to the cocaine gospel of Larry Love and D. Wayne so much… and the grooves don't hurt none, either.

The collection kicks off in high gear with "Hypo Full Of Love" and "Woke Up This Morning," the perfect introductions to the way Alabama 3 does business… "Woke Up…" is the remix used for The Sopranos, so it is familiar to most all the world, and "Hypo…" is a great way to realize your stereo just isn't quite loud enough. "Hello I'm Johnny Cash" takes country guitar lines and mates them with a bouncing electronic rhythm that is reminiscent of Cash's work with U2 on the Zooropa album - it's a great little story song and a nice tribute to Cash, including many references to the man in black's own work; worth the price of admission on its own. More songs from the debut Exile On Coldharbour Lane are included, including the righteously amazing "Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness" minus the long outro that was on the album version, and the tongue in cheek "You Don't Danse To Tekno Anymore." The band runs through an interestingly slack-blues version of Jerry Reed's "Amos Moses" that adds a new dimension to their sound, while the dark techno of "Too Sick To Pray" balances the scales. The acoustic guitar base of "Woody Guthrie" is perfect for the anti-everything preaching that goes on, which is in stark contrast to the heavy-handed rhythms of tracks like "Mansion On The Hill." Low-beat style takes over on the relaxed cool of "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low-Life" and the band gets skanky on the Orbital remix of the fun "Ska'd For Life." Finally, exactly as it should, the album wraps up with the band's excellent low-key take on "Peace In The Valley", which is in stark contrast to the techno version on their debut… this version is all acoustic guitars and organic drums in a very country style. Beautiful.

Here's the thing I've never understood. How Randy and the boys ever thought folks would confuse this music with Alabama's is a mystery… so here in the States we get A3 albums rather than Alabama 3. No big deal, really… but next time you talk to Randy Owen, let him know we don't approve.

-Embo Blake

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