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Alabama Shakes adds new life to soul-rock

The Alabama Shakes, plus dog

For goodness sakes, everybody, including Adele, the actor Russell Crowe and a Led Zeppelin legend have the Alabama Shakes. At this year's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Robert Plant invited the soul-rock sensations to stay at his house, rent free. You see, celebrities know what the plain people know, that the smack-down singer Brittany Howard and her choogling cohorts put on a show like few others – a touch of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the southern shouting of Janis or Otis, and a languid, muggy groove that stifles wonderfully.

Hailing from Athens, Ala., the band revives the profound sounds of Muscle Shoals, the nearby southern studio of fairly mythic legend. The slow concert boil of the Shakes routinely rises to You Ain't Alone, a crashing, minor-key ode to empathy and companionship from their debut album Boys & Girls. The show-stopper is Heavy Chevy, a three-chord chug-fest that clashes James Brown with British invaders. "Do you get it," the drawling Ms. Howard asks on that salute to big engines and other things that rev, "I wanna be with you forever." Yes, we get it, and the feelings, it would appear, are highly mutual.

Brad Wheeler

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Alabama Shakes (with Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires) play April 17, 8 p.m., $20.63, Lee's Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 1-855-985-5000.

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Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More

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