Alabama 3 – Hits and Exit Wounds
May 7, 2008
In fact, when I first heard that Alabama 3 was releasing a “Greatest Hits” album, I was more than a little bit snarky about the whole thing over at Free A3.
However, being the fanboy I so obviously am, I still had to get it. And frankly, I ended up a bit surprised.
Yes, I’ve heard it all before, even the “uncollected” bits like “SKA’D for Live”, which they did with Orbital for the movie SW9 (and of which I am very fond).
But still, listening to it, it struck me that this was actually a very well thought out overview of where the band has been over the past 12 years or so — from the shtick-laden craziness of “Exile on Coldharbour Lane” which drew many of us in (and which landed them on the front of every episode of The Sopranos) clear up to this year’s “MOR”, which is stylistically a long ways away from Exile, but still very recognizably Alabama 3.
What it doesn’t have is much of the rich strangeness that haunts most Alabama 3 albums — the kind of stuff that on the tenth listen you suddenly quit flinching and realize you actually quite like. But that’s fine too — its absence makes Hits and Exit Wounds what it should be — an accessible overview of what the band’s all about. If you love it, then you’ll probably love the rest of their catalog. If you just like it, then it’s an album that you can like for a very long time.
Which is not to say that H&EW does not contain plenty of Alabama 3 strangeness. The Exile era is well represented with “Woke Up This Morning”, “Peace in the Valley”, “Speed of the Sound of Lonliness”, “Hypo Full of Love”, “Ain’t Going to Goa”, “U Don’t Danse to Tekno Anymore” and the full and proper version of “Mao Tse Tung Said” (which was censored in the US release of Exile).
Other highlights include great remixes of “Mansion on the Hill” and “How Can I Protect You”, “R.E.H.A.B” and one of the better (but not quite the best) version of “Up Above My Head”, as well as “Amos Moses”, “Hello… I’m Johnny Cash”, “Sad Eyed Lady of the Low Life”, “Too Sick to Pray”, “Woodie Guthrie”, and “Monday Don’t Mean Anything”.
If it were me picking, I’d probably have swapped one or two songs for different songs, and used different versions of one or two of the remaining ones, but that’s all small beer. This really is a solid collection.
If you’ve been wondering what Alabama 3 is about beyond the Sopranos theme, or if you’re looking for an album to introduce someone else to Alabama 3, Hits and Exit Wounds is well worth your trouble.