With the Fun Lovin’ Criminals currently lying dormant, there’s no-one around that navigates their course through the musical byways. But even if the Criminals were around, they would doubtless occupy a slicker, more obviously American standpoint that makes any of their bluesy references feel less authentic. Alabama 3 have always stayed nearer the street – or the open road, whichever their preference.
As ever this album finds them referencing gospel, blues, country, rap and loose funk, yet coming out stylistically intact with a sound that could only be theirs. Not only that but there are at least two anthems in the making from Larry Love and his clan.
Monday Don’t Mean Anything To Me, featuring Errol T, deserves to get an outing once a week, reserved specially for that period where work is the last thing we want to do. Not only that, it’s a powerful groover and picks up quite a head of steam as it heads along the tracks.
Holy Blood is quite different, a softly moving gospel-tinged track with an aching vocal from the Kings Of Kaos, and it gradually builds up into a powerful earth mover that stirs the emotions, before unlikely album closer Sweet Joy, featuring the Proclaimers and Michael Wojas.
These are signs of form that illuminate an otherwise solid album that frequently promises much, but occasionally feels a little too comfortable in its easy, bluesy grooves . The central part of the album in particular falls into this category, and doesn’t feel like it has enough variety.
Let’s not be too unfair though, as Alabama 3 continue to charm with their lack of pretence and easy marriage of different styles. Lockdown and Way Beyond The Blues are strong tracks, while the Check In offers the light touches of humour the band do so well.
In fact it continues to be well nigh impossible to dislike Alabama 3. They make good, uplifting grooves here, which will be welcomed with open arms by those who’ve enjoyed them since they promised not to go to Goa in 1996.