Brixtonian faux-redneck gospelizers Alabama 3 bring techno-swamp-blues to the Underworld...
Good evening, y’all, and welcome to the delights of the Underworld. Because if there’s any venue that suits the Alabama’s grimy, Irvine Welsh-esque blues it’s this one. Condensation drips from the ceiling. Thirtysomehow denizens of the seamier edges of south London mob the bar. The fog of dope smoke in the winding corridor which snakes to the stage makes travelling conditions precarious.
And then there’s the music. It’s still more or less the same rolling fug of Stones riffs, funky drum patterns and growled vocals it’s been since ‘Ain’t Goin’ To Goa’ put their southern blues meets techno blueprint on the map back in pre-Moby times, but the years have been unkind to them, and their music’s grown because of it.
Where once the Alabama’s excursions into cod-Mississippi swampiness jarred, now they roll along like the real thing, driven by Larry Love’s cement-mixer of a voice. ‘Woke Up This Morning’ is still the stand-out (an approximation of the genre to dupe The Sopranos, no less), but a gospelized ‘Mansion On The Hill’ and final ‘Gonna Be Alright’ prove that all those years on the festival circuit chain-gang haven’t gone to waste.
“This was once a hit for Mr Marvin Gaye,” burbles addled co-frontman Dr. D Wayne Love at one point, prior to a floor-quaking encore of ‘Shoot Me Up’. It wasn’t, but you get the impression that if Mr Soul had ever felt the need to play with a pick-up band of techno-loving redneck country-boys who really came from grizzly old Brixton, it wouldn’t sound much different.
Alabama 3, then: at times, even better than the real thing.