With an eagerly-awaited new album, La Peste, hitting US retail racks on October 24, the radical UK band A3 (known as “Alabama 3” in the UK) will bring the group’s musical mayhem stateside on a club tour beginning November 1 at the Cotton Club in Atlanta, Georgia (see itinerary following). Best-known to American audiences for “Woke Up This Morning,” which plays under the credits for the highly-acclaimed HBO television series “The Sopranos,” A3 combines a high-tech clubland savvy with a deep-rooted blues sensibility, neo-dada aesthetics, and a post-modern situationist performance agenda.
The group–which revolves around a core of 8 members (but may vary in size from 3 to 20 musicians)–last toured the States in 1997. Since certain members of the group were, at that time, denied entry by US Immigration, the impending tour will mark the first time American audiences will be exposed to the full fire-power of A3. La Peste is the follow-up to 1997’s highly-acclaimed Exile On Coldharbour Lane. The music press–from the underground to the mainstream–has taken a strong interest in A3. “Woke Up This Morning” prompted the following responses: Robert Hilburn, covering “The Sopranos” soundtrack album for the Los Angeles Times (February 27, 2000), said, “If you’re not familiar with the splendid HBO series, this soundtrack will probably be your introduction to A3, a little known British outfit whose ‘Woke Up This Morning’ is the opening theme of the show. It’s a funky mix of country, blues and voodoo magic that summarizes the A3 approach.”; J.D. Considine made this observation in the Baltimore Sun (February 10, 2000), “….who’d have thought that made guys would be hip enough to groove to an edgy, alt-rock track like A3’s gritty ‘Woke Up This Morning’? ….for all its club-music smarts, the song itself is deeply rooted in the blues….”; Chuck Eddy found this to say about the track in the Village Voice (March 14, 2000), “….Back-porch picking, barrelhouse piano, and scratchy vinyl effects; then a stoned but electronically embellished lowlife voice imagining the Trenchcoat Mafia… the guy drawls about your head going ding-dong regretting what you did the night before, and how when you woke up everything you had was gone: She’d taken the bed and the chest of drawers, and the boys blamed you for bringing her home. She’s crafty; she f***ed and ran.
Almost immediately you felt sorry. You didn’t think this would happen again.” The group has been gathering kudos for its live performances. After seeing the group perform at London’s Scala on September 28, 2000, the Evening Standard’s Max Bell wrote, “The Scala rocked to the gospel dramas ‘Too Sick To Pray’ and ‘Mansion On The Hill,’ before the gripping rave and sloppy groove of ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife’ cut in. Fine tunes aside, there was plenty to look at, whether it was the footage of beastly policeman, or the on-stage security and the bandaged children bearing sub-machine guns…. (A3 is) an incitement to get off your butt.”
Clark Collis, writing in Q, the prestigious UK magazine, gave La Peste a “4 (out of 5)” star review and raved, “…while the lyrical input may depress, the wall-to-wall techno-yeehah-ing of the actual music is so funky that the end product will probably have more people putting on their dancing shoes than taking them off.”