The Review - MUSIC - grooves with RóISíN GADELRAB Published: 6 August 2009
Alabama 3 are set to play a Big Wheel Sundays gig
Waking up to the sound of Alabama
PREVIEW: ALABAMA 3 | BRITISH SEA POWER Regent’s Park
LARRY Love’s had three hours’ sleep in the past week. He may be exaggerating but not by much. Alabama 3 are working on three albums this year – so there’s work to be done. Even if you don’t recognise the nine-piece collective from the recent past, you’ll probably know them as the authors of Woke Up This Morning – which became a cult theme tune for The Sopranos.
“A blessing,” Larry aka Rob Spragg says, as he takes a break from recording. “If it’s a portal for people to get to know us then all the better. I’m proud to say if I lived in America we’d be between The Sopranos and The Simpsons, the two best families in America – we’re on both programmes.”
He’s well aware of the false rumour that Leonard Cohen wrote the song but, he says: “A little bit of mystery in rock ’n’ roll is cool. If people think Leonard Cohen wrote it it’s a compliment to me.”
Alabama 3 play Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre on August 23 as part of Big Wheel Sundays, a series of outdoor performances, with British Sea Power headlining other dates.
Alabama 3’s unique shows are known for outrageous displays, costumes, graphics and inconceivable blends of techno and country and western.
But for the Regent’s Park show, expect something akin to Seasick Steve. “We’re a nine-piece, usually with drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, three singers,” says Larry. “We’re just going to strip it down to basic delta Mississippi blues – one guitar, harmonica and two vocals. We’ll be doing what Seasick Steve’s been doing for ages. It gives people the opportunity to hear the songs deconstructed. We’ll hopefully still be a bit outrageous.”
Blues is a fascination for the band, who have played a series of jail gigs and had personal involvement in miscarriages of justice causes – displaying a “Free Ronnie Biggs” poster on their website.
Larry says: “Nick Reynolds plays harmonica for us. His dad is Bruce Reynolds who masterminded the Great Train Robbery. Nick has known Ronnie Biggs for quite a few years. He went with his dad to pick him up from Rio. “Good rock ’n’ roll is outlaw music. The recession is probably a good time for more underground left-field bands. I still believe anything that undermines unbridled belief in capitalism is a good thing. It’s got to be good for artists because people question the morality of the society they live in and don’t just believe the hype about getting a mortgage and yuppie job. People return to elemental concerns.”
And one final thought? “Deep inside our beating rock and roll hearts lie beautiful warm-hearted fellas.”
* Big Wheel Sundays begin in Regent’s Park on August 16 with British Sea Power, The London Bulgarian Choir and special guests. Alabama 3 play unplugged on August 23 with Kate Miller Heidke and special guests.
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