Alabama 3, or A3, playing at the London Astoria on 7 October 2007
|Also known as||The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine (UK)
|Origin||Brixton, London, England, UK|
|Genres||Electronica, alternative rock, acid jazz, trip hop|
One Little Indian
|Past members||Simon Edwards
Alabama 3 are an English band mixing rock, electronic, blues, country, gospel, and spoken word styles, founded in Brixton, London in 1995. In the United States, the band is known as A3, allegedly to avoid any possible legal conflict with the country music band Alabama. The group achieved success when the producers of hit TV series The Sopranos chose the track "Woke Up This Morning" for the show's opening credits.
The band is notable for their fusion of styles, ironic lyrics, intentionally humorous personae, and outrageous live performances. Every member of the group has an alias, the band's founding members adopting the personas Larry Love (Rob Spragg) and The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love (Jake Black).
The band formed when Jake Black met Rob Spragg at an acid house party in Peckham and they decided that a fusion of country music with acid house was a musical possibility. Other members of the band were added over time. Rob Spragg was at university with Piers Marsh, the harmonica player and synthesizer programmer for the band, while Orlando Harrison, the group's current keyboardist, used to live with Jake Black. Prior to the formation of Alabama 3, and following the demise of The Jangletties, Black generated little or no recorded output for several years.
Starting their act under the alias the First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine (UK), the group eventually switched names to Alabama 3 and, after having been dismissed by the mainstream media as a novelty act, signed with One Little Indian Records in 1997 for the release of its debut album, Exile on Coldharbour Lane.
In August 2007, the group toured under the name of Alabama 3: Acoustic and Unplugged, with Harpo Strangelove and Devlin Love, to promote its new album MOR (released 10 September 2007). Bassist John "Segs" Jennings left the band, saying he was "busy elsewhere and [he doesn't] have the time." The band's sixth studio album, M.O.R. included a cover of Jerry Reed's 1970s hit "Amos Moses" and features The Proclaimers on the track "Sweet Joy" plus piano parts on the country stomp version of the Gil Scott Heron song "The Klan", written by Heron and Brian Jackson. In September and October 2007, the band toured the UK in support of M.O.R. with Irish band Republic of Loose supporting.
On Friday 29 February 2008, Larry Love, Devlin Love and Mark Sams did an encore with Carbon/Silicon at the seventh and final Carbon Casino gig at the Inn on the Green, under the Westway. Mick Jones joined the group on-stage to add guitar and backing vocals to a version of "Woke Up This Morning."
Having recorded and toured with the band in the early days, Aurora Dawn rejoined the band in 2009. Between late 2010 and early 2011, programmer, harmonicist, and founding member Piers "Mountain of Love" Marsh left the band. Although no reason was given, he is still an active contributor to the band's Facebook page. He and another Alabama 3 founding member, Sir Eddie Real, are now performing new material under the name of "Mountain of Love" with vocals from various guests.
The members of the band are:
- Rob Spragg AKA Larry Love: vocals
- Jake Black AKA The Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love: vocals
- Orlando Harrison AKA The Spirit: keyboards, keyboard bass, vocals
- Mark Sams AKA Rock Freebase: guitar, bass guitar
- Steve Finnerty AKA LOVEPIPE: production, guitar and vocals
- Jonny Delafons AKA L. B. Dope: drums, percussion
- Greg Fleming AKA Wizard: sequencer and effects
- Be Atwell The Reverend Be Atwell: vocals
- Nick Reynolds AKA Harpo Strangelove: harmonica, percussion, vocals (son of Bruce Reynolds, architect of the Great Train Robbery of 1963. Bruce appears on the band's 2005 album, Outlaw).
- Aurora Dawn: vocals
- John Jennings AKA Segs: backing vocals, guitar
- Zoe Devlin AKA Devlin Love: vocals
- Simon (The Dude) Edwards AKA Sir Eddie Real: percussion, vocals
- Piers Marsh AKA The Mountain of Love: Synths
- Marianna Little Eye Ty: dancer
- Laura Lady Love dancer: dancer
Alabama 3's sound is a blend of country, blues, and acid house. The band's songs have sampled Jim Jones in "Mao Tse Tung Said" and Birmingham Six survivor Patrick Hill in "The Thrills Have Gone." Trouser Press reviewer Jason Reeher wrote that A3's "debut is brilliant and shambolic...owing huge debts to both Hank Williams and Happy Mondays."
Mountain of Love
Mountain of Love is a dubtronica group formed by two of the original three members of Alabama 3, Piers Marsh and Sir Eddie Real, in 2011 in Brixton, England . The band's eponymous first album was released in 2013 off the Cooked Griffin Records label.
Alabama 3's music in other media
- "Peace in the Valley" is featured in the film A Life Less Ordinary (1997).
- "Too Sick to Pray" plays on the radio in the film Gone in 60 Seconds (2000).
- A snippet of "Speed of the Sound of Loneliness" features in the film Some Voices (2000).
- "Mansion on the Hill" featured on the Kurt Russell/Kevin Costner film 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001).
- A part of "M.I.A" by the band is played in the film The Football Factory (2004) as the Chelsea firm travel up to Liverpool for an away match.
- The song "Sister Rosetta" from Exile on Coldharbour Lane can be heard in the film Barnyard (2006).
- A snippet of "Bulletproof" appears in A Very British Gangster (2007), Donal MacIntyre's documentary film about Manchester crime boss Dominic Noonan.
- The song "Ain't Goin' to Goa" is featured in the motion picture Definitely, Maybe (2008).
- The band is featured in the documentary We Dreamed America (2008). The film, which explores the influence of American country music on British artists, features three songs by the band.
- "Mansion on the Hill" is used on the opening credits of mockumentory Good Arrows (2009), written by Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh.
- The song "The Night We Nearly Got Busted" is featured on the soundtrack of the MMO game, All Points Bulletin.
Music samples and remakes by other artists
- Episode four of the BBC Three series Being Human features "Too Sick to Pray" at its opening and "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife" at its end. The songs were omitted from the DVD release of the episode due to copyright issues.
- "Mansion on the Hill" features in the sixth episode of the ABC television series Carpoolers.
- The closing scene to first season Criminal Minds episode titled "Won't Get Fooled Again" (10/05/05) plays "The Night We Nearly Got Busted".
- A shortened alternate version of "Woke Up This Morning" can be heard for nearly 50 seconds in The Simpsons episode "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge", while Fat Tony and his gang are on the ride to the Simpsons' house. The sequence is a parody of the opening sequence of The Sopranos.
- "Woke Up This Morning" is also in the later Simpsons episode "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer", which guest-starred Sopranos regulars Michael Imperioli and Joe Pantoliano.
- A remixed version of "Woke Up This Morning" plays during the opening credits of the HBO television series The Sopranos.
- On the Region 4 DVD release of season one of The Sopranos, the music video to "Woke Up This Morning" is included as a special feature; it is incorrectly credited as being performed by "Alabama 5".
- A snippet of "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife" can be heard at the beginning of The Sopranos: "Mr. Ruggerio's Neighborhood" (episode 3.1) as Tony Soprano walks down the driveway to get his morning newspaper.
- "Woke Up This Morning" was also used in an episode of BBC series Top Gear, in which the team were driving through Alabama.
- "Mao Tse Tung Said" features in the first episode of the second season of Torchwood Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.
- Rob Spragg (as Rob Love) wrote and recorded the theme to Welsh TV series Y Pris. He and John Hardy won the Best Original Music Soundtrack award at BAFTA Cymru 2008.
- Yahoo! Music, Biography of Alabama 3
- Contact Music, Interview with D. Wayne Love
- One Little Indian Records, Alabama 3
- Benefit Gig for Paul Fox of The Ruts. – Free A3 – The unofficial Alabama 3 forum
- Adam Bernstin, The Washington Post (2 March 2013). "Bruce Reynolds, 'Robbery' architect". Newsday. p. A26.
- Marsh, Piers. "Mountain of Love". Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- "Y Pris News". S4C. 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
- "Bafta Cymru 2008 Winners" (PDF). Retrieved 10 May 2008.