Album Review by Mark Bayross
Following on from Alabama 3’s excellent 2000 album LA PESTE, a record which spawned three singles that should have burned up the charts if there was any justice in this world, POWER IN THE BLOOD sees the South London group return on similarly fine form.
Once again fusing country twang and gospel euphoria to deep, thumping techno, Rob Spragg (AKA Larry Love), Jake Black (AKA The Very Reverend Dr D Wayne Love) and co. have crawled out of whatever booze-soaked Brixton squat they supposedly call home in order to serenade / harangue us with typical evangelical zeal.
More techno-fied than LA PESTE, Alabama 3 nonetheless make this crossover lark look a piece of piss: from the bass-heavy title track onwards, the album blends into a seamless haze of beats and electro textures, while the gospel backing of tracks like R.E.H.A.B. gives the music a KMFDM meets Primal Scream sense of melodic anarchy.
This being Alabama 3, there’s plenty of devil-fearing Deep South imagery (THE MOON HAS LOST THE SUN, YELLOW ROSE), while contemporary evils from the 18-30 commercialisation of dance culture (THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO IBIZA) to the hypocrisy of America and its stranglehold on Britain (WOODY GUTHRIE) are attacked with righteous fury behind a veneer of club-friendly beats and soulful vocals.
Of course, the trouble with topicality is that it quickly gets out of date, but while deriding all that’s wrong with America will presumably never lose relevance, lines like “Another psychopath in Iowa / loading up another round / while the NRA in Columbine / hunt Marilyn Manson down” (WOODY GUTHRIE) somehow manage to sound out of date and eerily prescient at the same time, especially as some nutjob is currently picking off Washington residents with a sniper rifle.
Add to this contributions from Keith Allen, BJ Cole, Eileen Rose, Rolo McGinty and Irvine Welsh (who name-checked the band in his bestseller Filth), plus a throwaway cover of Springsteen’s BADLANDS, and you have a much-deserved ascent to the big league. Only the Reverend’s lame rapping still jars, and no doubt that’s all part of the program anyway.
POWER IN THE BLOOD proves that there’s still plenty of inspiration in the Alabama 3 collective, and, while there’s nothing here to match the spine-tingling TOO SICK TO PRAY, there’s still plenty to get excited about.