Playlist: Sweet Alabama's All-New Gospel
Byline: Jeff Magill & Gary Gilliland
POP music could easily be accused of churning out the same pap time and time again. In an industry bursting with Pop Idol wannabes singing cover versions, you could be forgiven for thinking originality and innovation are a thing of the past.
However, in the wide ocean of pop monotony, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon in the shape of Brixton collective Alabama 3.
With a name inspired by the Alabama Two - two black men, whose hanging after allegedly raping a white woman became a symbol for the miscarriage of justice - it is evident that this is no ordinary pop band.
After it's founding members Jake Black (The Very Reverend Dr Wayne Love) and Rob Spragg (Larry Love) met at an acid house party in the height of the heaving rave scene, they joined forces to build a band (which now consists of eight members) with a difference. Fusing techno beats with country, gospel, pop and blues, set to lyrics concerning everything from religion, politics and clubbing, Alabama 3 have won a legion of fans over the globe.
On Monday, the band released their third album Power In The Blood and on November 22, they will play the Empire Music Hall, Belfast, for what promises to be a memorable gig.
"There's a bit of everything in what we do," says Glaswegian Jake, one of the band's two vocalists. "There's pantomime in the gigs and all that. There's a lot of messing about and a lot of silly patter. But that's because that's the way we like it. When we do gigs and stuff, it's an amusing night out for us and the people who come along like it as well."
While the band had built up a cult following after the release of their debut album Exile On Coldharbour Lane, gaining such high-profile fans as author Irvine Welsh, it was when their song Woke Up This Morning was used as the theme tune to the hit US series The Sopranos that they really grabbed the public's attention.
According to Jake, Woke Up This Morning being used in the series was an ironic pop moment.
"There's a bit of irony in there. That's a song about a woman who is being battered stupid by her husband everyday for eight years. It's about a woman called Sara Thornton, who changed the laws in this country, regarding that.
"Basically, there's a programme, which has done more for the mafia's image than anything in the past 25 years, since The Godfather, then there's us - a lot of armchair reds - and here we are dossing the biggest union b******s in the world. But these ironies always come along in pop music. …