Thursday 13 June at 7:30 pm£25
They don’t make bands like Alabama 3 anymore.
Emerging out of the haze of the late 1980s South London acid house squat scene, their pioneering combination of soulful, bluesy country rock with the irresistible pulse of techno gave them a sound all of their own.
By the end of the century they’d found a global audience by giving The Sopranos its indelible theme tune, and were taking their ecstatic 12-piece live show to venues all over the planet.
In November 2023, Alabama 3 returned with their vital fourteenth studio album, a stirring soundtrack for our times titled ‘Cold War Classics Vol. 2’, which layers darkly comic social commentary over the sort of tunes designed to help you dance your worries away. “There’s nothing more boring than a polemic-filled political rant of a record,” observes frontman Larry Love. “I like to think there’s some fun in the darkness… otherwise you’re just having a whinge.”
The Alabama 3 story started, as many good stories do, at a rave in Peckham. It was there that Rob Spragg (aka Larry Love) met Jake Black (aka The Very Reverend D. Wayne Love), and the pair soon started making sweet music together. “D. Wayne Love used to DJ and I would MC,” recalls Love. “We’d mix in Robert Johnson, Mahalia Jackson and blues stuff with techno.” At the height of Britpop, they were signed by Geffen for a million dollars and went on to release their seminal debut album ‘Exile on Coldharbour Lane’ in 1997. Early critics dismissed their sonic experiments as the work of a novelty act, something their longevity refutes. “Unlike a lot of our contemporaries, we’re still standing,” points out Love. “That template of mixing acid house and country & western with a sort of Marxist ideology has stood the test of time.”
In 2019, the band were rocked by the untimely death of The Very Reverend D. Wayne Love. Their 2021 album ‘Step 13’ featured posthumous appearances from the late vocalist, but for the new album he’s limited to a solitary “Goodnight Larry!” at the end of the record. “‘Step 13’ was very much recorded under the hangover of his early demise,” explains Love. “It was important to us this time that we in no way broke from his tradition or his immense contribution, but developed into something a bit more independent of him.” That evolution meant adding a new drummer, bass player and horn section to the band. “I’ve got loads of unused tracks of D. Wayne Love, but he wouldn’t have wanted us to just be fuckin’ regurgitating his out-takes, do you know what I mean?” says Love. “We’ve kind of recalibrated this thing.”