The Alabama 3 are an amorphous band of British musicians, formed in Brixton in the 1990s, whose number fluctuates with each album and performance - with members Rob Spragg (vocals), Jake Black and Piers Marsh forming the core. They are probably the best live band I have ever seen.
'La Peste' was Alabama 3s second album released in 2000 following 'Exile on Coldharbour Lane'. The album is now obviously getting a little long in the tooth. However I think it is still one of the most enjoyable, musically adept rip roaring albums of (relatively, depending on your age) recent times, and well worth a listen.
The album has a darker more dramatic, and melancholy feel than their first album, which had some amusing tracks ('Ain't Goin' to Goa' and
and 'You Don't Danse 2 Tekno Anymore' ). I personally can't pick one stand out track from this album as I love them all. Their treatment of Hotel California (seen as an alternative national anthem by some Americans) proved controversial and is a cracker - many people believe it to be a truer interpretation of the lyrics than the original. It seems to capture more completely a sense of the darker zeitgeist of nineties America.
Despite all this talk of darkness and melancholia the band themselves are equisitely humourous and subversive, and succeeded in creating a quintissentialy American sound, and have been able to 'sell this back' to the Americans as essentially 'genuine'. Take for example the opening titles to the Sopranos TV series, 'Woke up This Morning', probably their best known track (from Exile on Coldharbour Lane). The Sopranos also used a snippet of 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife' from La Peste.
The bands sound is hard to define, Larry Loves' (Rob Spragg) vocals are kinda like Jack Daniels, rough deep with a mellow afterglow, Devlin Loves'(Zoe Devlin) vocals are soaring, searing, strong and a real bonus, The Rev D. Wayne (Jake Black) gives them their gospel deranged preacher man, and the music is rich, full, heady, melodic without being pretentiously overblown in any way. The sound appears to be a mix of hard rock, acid house, country (a big smidge of country depending on which album you are listening to), gospel... blended seamlessly to give them their own characteristic sound which doesn't steer too close to any of the component genres too often.
If you haven't already discovered the Alabama 3 you may be better off buying one of their compilation cds for example 'Hits and Exit Wounds'. to get an overview of their eclectic styles and approaches. For me their earlier works surpass their latest offerings. If you try them and like them I would say that this is one of their must have albums, along with 'Exile on Coldharbour Lane', and 'Power in the Blood' .
One last thing if you can get to see them live - and they tour extensively all over the U.K. - please do as they have been widely recognised as one of the most fun and enjoyable live bands around over the last decade. The ethos of the band is very democratic with no pretensions. Before one memorable gig I attended the power system was playing up, and the band was very late opening, so the main core of the band came into the alleyway where we were queing and did an impromptu acoustic performance which was simply brilliant.
The Track Listing is:-
"Too Sick To Pray" - 4:44
"Mansion On The Hill" - 3:00
"Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlife" - 4:43
"Walking In My Sleep" - 6:09
"Wade Into The Water" - 5:15
"Hotel California" - 5:34 (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey)
"Cocaine (Killed My Community)" - 4:44
"The Thrills Have Gone" - 4:30
"2129" - 4:24
"Strange" - 5:27
"Sinking..." - 5:29
Band Members are
Jake Black AKA The Very RevLerend Dr. D. Wayne Love: vocals
Rob Spragg AKA Larry Love: vocals
Zoe Devlin AKA Devlin Love: vocals
Piers Marsh AKA The Mountain of Love: programming, keyboards, vocals and harmonica
Simon (The Dude) Edwards AKA Sir Eddie Real: percussion
Orlando Harrison AKA The Spirit: keyboards, keyboard bass
Mark Sams AKA Rock Freebase: guitar, bass guitar
Jonny Delafons AKA L. B. Dope: drums, percussion
Steve Finnerty AKA LOVEPIPE: production, additional guitar and additional vocals
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Too sick to pray
2 Mansion on the hill
3 Sad eyed lady of the lowlife
4 Walking in my sleep
5 Wade into the water
6 Hotel California
8 Thrills have gone
12 Woke up this morning