Music

Possibly 4th Street 16: Alabama 3 a/k/a A3

by

Rob Trucks’s “Possibly 4th Street” expositions, in which he invites musicians to perform live and impromptu somewhere in New York City, run intermittently here at Sound of the City.

photos by Rob Trucks

Possibly 4th Street
Number 16 (Part One)
Alabama 3 a/k/a A3

The Alabama 3, at least stateside, are now known as the A3. (You may blame litigious threats made on behalf of country monolith and namesaked residents Alabama for almost all the recent moniker confusion.) But they are not from Alabama (far from it: the band claims Brixton as home) and they number more than three (electrified, the group numbers at least eight, five of whom answer to the pseudonymous surname of Love). Only when stripped down (figuratively speaking) to their bare acoustics do the Alabama 3, A3, etc. actually number three. In our case, late afternoon on the first of July smack dab in the middle of Union Square, singers Larry and Devlin Love (no relation) and guitarist Rock Freebase.

A dose of clarity then. Long ago (hip-hop producer Steinski is a huge fan of their now 11-year-old Exile on Coldharbour Lane disc), the A3 adopted a unique and inviting mix (both figuratively and literally) of country/western, blues and acid house. So unique (though not so inviting) that often times the A3 genre feels like an island inhabited by one collective, rarely visited (though singer Rob Spragg, a/k/a Larry Love, hears compatriots in the odd Tom Waits, Steve Earle and Will Oldham recordings).

And yet despite more than a decade’s worth of mining sacred texts of the American South from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Mississippi Fred McDowell and taking them to the rave-up, the A3 is best-known, again, at least stateside, for performing the theme of the most celebrated television show since Seinfeld went off the air. 

Yes, every time Tony Soprano makes the Turnpike, puts Manhattan in his rearview mirror as he passes through Elizabeth on his way to Caldwell, you’re listening to the voice of one Rob Spragg sing an anthem for victims of domestic violence now somewhat ironically adopted by, and perpetually cemented, to “dodgy Italians with gold rings on their fingers.”

That song, live in Union Square, below.

A3, “WOKE UP THIS MORNING

Possibly 4th Street
Number 16 (Part Two)
Alabama 3

Who: Alabama 3 frontman Larry Love (a/k/a Rob Spragg), Devlin Love (no relation), and guitarist Rock Freebase.
When:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008. Day One of a short stateside jaunt to promote their recent compilation Hits and Exit Wounds before returning to Britain to perform at novelist Irvine Welsh’s book release party

Where:

At the foot of the Charles F. Murphy Memorial Flagstaff in the center of Union Square

Tell me something that you’ve never ever done before in your life.

Skydived.

Tell me something that you have done once and one time only.

Heroin.

Tell me the name of a book that you’ve read at least twice.

Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn.

A movie that you’ve seen at least three times.

Once Upon a Time in America.

Okay, do you own a rake?

I don’t personally own a rake but my daughter owns a rake. For her garden.

And who’s your favorite Beatle?

Ringo

The rest of the interview is here. . .

[

A3, “UP ABOVE MY HEAD”