"I was there / When they crucified the lord / I said "Hello! Hello Jesus, / I'm Johnny Cash."
Alabama 3, despite many rumors to the contrary, are not dead, nor are they gracing the inside of various penal institutions (well, at least, they weren't on May 21st, 2005). I was privileged to attend a full session of the First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine (UK), presided over by The Right Reverend D. Wayne Love, along with Larry Love and Daisy Love and various other pimps and hos of the congregation as they preached to a willing choir. Despite a near-total lack of advertising, the gig (at the Carling Academy Glasgow) was packed fairly tight.
I've been a willing devotee of the Church since several years before their rise to media notice with The Sopranos; I found Woke Up this Morning on a sampler CD from a record company and chased down Exile on Coldharbour Lane with the drive of a man promised a beer for herding irate camels across the midst of the Gobi desert in June after being fed a meal of salt pork and pretzels.
I found in their music something I had been missing, up to then. One of the tracks on Exile spoke to me - no, two did, really. I had been (and still am) a fan of some electro and pure techno dance music.
I've been known to waft through more laid-back venues as well. D. Wayne Love he spoke to me, though, when he said
You don't dance to techno anymore
I don't see under the strobe light on the dance floor
it's been a while since I saw your ultraviolet smile
you don't dance to techno anymore
...and before I could recover from the truth he was speaking, he continued, saying to me
Don't you go to Goa.
Before long I was looking for his wisdom on the shelves with every trip to the record store, with every surf to Amazon.com. I found a darker side of D. Wayne and Larry in La Peste, their next full album release to hit the U.S. shores, with shivers moving up my spine as I heard about the Mansion on the Hill, Too Sick to Pray. I knew that Cocaine (Killed my Community) when I found myself Walking in my Sleep, waking up as I was about to Wade into the Water - and it weren't for no baptism, neither, brother. The Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlife was watching me from across the canal, standing in The Hotel California - and it was Sinking.
Year or two later, nursing a whisky and holding my hurting head, and a disc of wisdom and folksong was laid down on my doorstep by UPS. Told me about the problems I was having, and told me about what I had to do, and what I had to call upon - the Power in the Blood. Woody Guthrie was Reachin', and it was Year Zero; I took my Two Heads and made a deal with ol' Scratch. Buttoned a Yellow Rose into my lapel, and me and The Devil went Down to Ibiza. Them was some Badlands, brother, but he'd made me Bulletproof and they wouldn't Let the Caged Bird Sing. I cried for D. Wayne, saying Lord Have Mercy, The Moon has Lost the Sun, and they let me Come on Home, and off I went into R.E.H.A.B..
Now it's 2005, and I went to Scotland to see the Boys and Girls preach the creed. I can say unreservedly that I went to Scotland to see a band - and it was good. I took the Last Train to Mashville from Buchanan Street station; The Gospel Train that is. I made it to the Academy with my mate in time to hear the Intro, and as the Adrenaline began to hit we warned each other to 'Keep Your Shades On, brother.' Waved my arms Up Above My Head when D. Wayne asked me Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds? but Let it Slide during the Terra Firma Cowboy Blues, because Larry Love had a question for me. How can I Protect You, he asked, when there's Honey in the Rock? I didn't know but didn't care, because as I had greeted him when he stepped out on stage, Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. But we staggered to the pub, tinnitus in our heads and music in our souls, and drank pints of 80 shilling until the sound settled into a warm long hum before meandering back to Partick.
Alabama 3 have a current info page (including discography) up at: