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M.O.R by Alabama 3

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Reviewed on 27th October 2007.



By Alabama 3

When faced with the prospect of the unknown I was hesitant on how I would find this album, having no experience of Alabama 3 I had no idea what to expect. I found out that they created the theme for TV show 'The Sopranos' but I have never watched it! As far as pleasant surprises go this album was one. Who else could be brave enough to open an album with a whole track of airport tannoy speak? With electronic noises I feared some crazed experimental element but found a fusion of classic blues, utopian chill out and pure rhythm and blues.

The album flows like a flight with its noticeable check in start and according to the band we are invited to sit back and relax on a ride to Saturn. Opener 'Fly with Me' starts with a surreal choir which then goes into a Zero 7 - esque trip-hop feel. The captain tannoy speech is looped to remind us of this flight. Lockdown follows this similar root with its jazz organ which lightly touches the vocals with bongos interspersed to give the tune a more rootsy feel. Brass riffs then occur to make it sound like something Jools Holland's R & B Orchestra would knock out at a Hootenanny.

'Monday don't mean anything to me' makes us forget about the intended concept with its bouncy synthetic start with a gramophone vocal line until the funky bass kicks in. The chorus is so easy and catchy that it is one of the stand-out tracks on this album this track also demonstrates the group's boundary pushing making jazz and blues more modern with a new wave style.

'Amos Moses' detracts us from the electronic side of things with tales of alligator wrestling or so it seems with its constant references to Louisiana where blues is prominently from.

'Are You Souljah' for me is the best track off the album with its preacher speech beginning accompanied by a military march then into a spacey groove which sounds like an 80s love ballad but without the cheese. There is sampling of the last post in making a possible political link with the Iraq war. The rapping infused with the blues beats works really well like a modern combo.

'The Klan' tackles the issue of racism without fear of rebuke discussing what atrocities the Ku Klux Klan carried out in the deep South during the battle for civil rights amongst all people. The band personifies Klan members as the devil and how mother, sisters, fathers and brothers were all held accountable. The track seems to suggest racism is still a troubling issue and is a call for arms against the hate crimes evoked by the fascism of white supremacy activists. Once again we get a Rasta rap which fits in with the subject calling everyone to join together in this battle.

'Hooked', 'Doghouse Chronicles' and 'Middle of the Road' follow the conventional southern blues songs. This style is rudely interrupted by the electro blues tune 'Work It' which has elements of 'Goldfrapp' interwoven. After the piano and vocal song 'Holy Blood' we are reminded of our purpose that is to join the Alabama 3 on this 'MOR' flight with announcements and a classic blues tune. The track finishes with a hidden element containing a Rasta rap versus a gospel style choral part with a sample of a child behind it as we approach the runway for landing as we reach Saturn.

The album wants its listeners to unravel the meaning of 'MOR' and challenges the idea that it stands for 'Middle of the Road' as there is nothing normal in this collection of experimental new wave blues. Being a fan of the genre this album worked out for me.



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