Exile On Coldharbour Lane

A3

Elemental / Geffen Records, 1997

http://www.alabama3.co.uk

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/30/1999

Ahh, yet another album title that's a playful title of a landmark album. Though the title itself may be a cheap way to lure an unsuspecting listener in, what else can you do? You haven't read any articles about the band and they are not on your radio station. All that's left, really, is the album title and the cover to catch your eye.

And thankfully, Exile On Coldharbor Lane was able to find its way into the CD player in the Arts and Entertainment cubicle of our student paper. Straight from the mouths of The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis The Divine (I'm not kidding), the reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love serves the listener a straight up Molotov coctail of styles that have been trainwrecked into a 50 minute listening experience.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It this album were a FOX special, it would have been called, "When Styles Collide." Rockibilly, Tex-mex, beat boxes, delta-style blues and straightforward rock litter this release. The full name of the band, Alabama3, describe their sound as "acid country house." Whatever, all I know is that for the first listen, I was hooked.

The album kicks of with a revival, full of chorus chants and divine keyboards. The phrase "Lets go back to church" is sung, although what church exactly is entirely up to you. Just stick around for the second song, "Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness." As the harmonica enters and Larry Love's vocals hit, it's hard not to compare this band with another eclectic band, the Dave Matthews Band. Only this time, it sounds as if the Dave Matthews Band got ahold of some fungal friends and REALLY let loose on their jamming skills.

The album surprisingly doesn't lose its humor or novelty factor. "Bourgeoisie Blues" and "Hypo Full Of Love" are both hilarious lyrically, but still engaging enough that you can listen to them a couple of times without getting tired. But, the listener may get tired of the same space-acid-country-beat box mix towards the end of the album.

"Sister Rosetta" and "Peace In The Valley" are both fine ditties, it's just that they begin to sound somewhat similar to the other songs on the later half of the album. The instant hooks that grabbed you on the first three songs are no longer there. And "The Old Purple Tin," judging by reading the lyrics before listening to the song, should have sounded a lot better than it did when the track came on.

Like the Reverend Horton Heat (what is with blazing southern bands who insist on having a lead singer deemed "reverend"?), A3 has roots so deep in the south, no amount of techno or metal can uproot them. But unlike the Reverend Horton Heat, A3 needs some time to refine their style, so they won't fall into the 'novelty band' trap. They have the skills, they have the humor. Now, all that's left to conquor is a small obstacle called "the sophomore slump". Our prayers are with yahs.

Rating: B

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© 1999 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elemental / Geffen Records, and is used for informational purposes only.