My ex used to say that this band were a novelty, a joke band like that idiotic Crazy Frog, simply because they had a sense of humour.and weren't afraid to use it. Needless to say, she was wrong. Alabama 3 aren't a joke band, but they're a band that see the joke in life. Life is by it's very nature a ridiculous construct. In some respects we shouldn't even be listening to music, but out there chasing dinner and hunting things with spears. Come here, Bambi, you look tasty.
Like normal, Alabama 3 are an obscure mish-mash of a wide variety of influences -and. "Outlaw", their fourth album, refuses to mess with their so far magic (but commercially unsuccessful) formula, and offers a further twelve platters of country western blues gospel techno communist propoganda. The overt political themes of earlier albums have been submerged under what some call "The Romance Of Crime". The Outlaw hangs heavy over this album, the lone maverick who always goes his own way irrespective of the law.
"Outlaw" isn't going to win many new converts, nor lose the Alabama's any members of their congregation. The bands formula has tempered slightly, in so much as the previous occasional forays into faster stuff has smoothed into what could be seen as a generally homogenous collection : which is not to say that isn't part of the charm. It sounds like a greatest hits collection given the number of melodies and hooks, but it isn't. It takes a cavalier attitude to the musical ghettos many of us place around ourselves, and offers a wonderfully modern, ultimately flippant take upon the world by casting us all as renegade dance cowboys on the last train, glory bound to drug-soaked oblivion, death, glory, salvation, or all three.
Particularly of note are "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" a hymn to the redemptive power of the Man In Black that is, so far, the most eloquent tribute to the departed desperado. The rest of the suspects in the lineup are equally worthy, with "Last Train To Mashville" (mysteriously absent from the album of the same name), and "Up Above My Head" being particular standouts. No Nonsense Groovebound, White Boy, South Brixton, Country & Western Blues Acid House Techno. All Aboard!