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The Alarm – Strength (30th Anniversary)

album by:
The Alarm
Version:
Audio CD
Price:
£12.99

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On January 12, 2016
Last modified:January 25, 2016

Summary:

I liked the way there's a theme, with lyrics in one song being a title track or chorus in another. There's a heavy reference to politics in the lyrics so you'll get a bit of a history lesson too. Great musicianship and the sound should appeal to fans of bands like U2, The Quireboys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Boomtown Rats.

The Alarm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Peters and his Welsh alternative rock band, played their first gig in 1981 as The Alarm. After changing their name from Seventeen to Alarm Alarm, the former having toured extensively, the latter only doing one gig before they became The Alarm. The band movied from Rhyl, in North Wales, to London in 1981 to record their first single. Over thirty years they are still going strong, with frontman Mike Peters, having battled lymph cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. It would seem poignant that their highly acclaimed third studio aldum, released on 1st October 1985, was called Strength and to mark the 30th Anniversary of it’s original release, the entire album has been rearranged and re-recorded, and re-released exactly thirty years later, by Mike Peters who said: –

I always felt that song for song, word for word, Strength was The Alarm’s best album of the 1980’s and had layers of hidden qualities that were never truly revealed or properly explored back in those heady days. There are lots of stories on Strength, many of them autobiographical or written from personal experience. I still see the people I wrote about in the songs and live on the same streets affected by the political landscape documented in the original telling and I felt that they deserved an updating so they could tell of challenges met and relationships strengthened by time.”

To help with the reworking he was assisted by the original production notes and lyric book he had first used back in 1984. Strength (30th Anniversary) was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, with lyrics in some of the songs getting an update. Mike reveals that the album was originally going to be called Absolute Reality and says he recorded that one as though it was the title track and made it more in the style of Knife Edge. 

Not having heard the original I’m not going to be making any comparisons. Whether it’s better, worse, or just as good as the original release, I can’t say, what I will do is give some observations on Strength (30th Anniversary) as a first time listener. Opening with political song Spirit of ’76 this one is a mournful ditty, almost funereal, with acoustic guitar and fiddle and includes the lyrics ‘The day the ravens left the tower’ which is also the title of track four on the album. This one was like theThe Quireboys meet Stiff Little Fingers. Deeside has a U2 vibe, and as that’s the band they have supported more times than any other they’re bound to have picked up a few influences along the way. From Deeside we head over to Liverpool for Knife Edge, which mentions Mersey Lights and  ‘Spirit of ’76’ the first track, gets a mention in the lyrics in this one, and again the song included the fiddle. I picked up the U2 influence again in Walk Forever By Your Side with this one reminding me of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking ForTitle track Strength which mentions ‘Deeside’ in the lyrics includes a bit of mouth organ and had me thinking of The Boomtown Rats. Dawn Chorus mentions a ‘Knife edge’ and had a Roger Daltrey’s Free Me vibe. Father to Son a mellower track and the album ended on a mellow note with Absolute Reality.

I liked the way there’s a theme, with lyrics in one song being a title track or chorus in another. There’s a heavy reference to politics in the lyrics so you’ll get a bit of a history lesson too. Great musicianship and the sound should appeal to fans of bands like U2, The Quireboys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Boomtown Rats. Catch The Alarm on tour later this year on the ‘Spirit of ’86’ tour, see poster and video below for further information.

Highlight Track: Knife Edge

CD Track List:

1: Spirit of ’76
2: Deeside
3: Knife Edge
4: The Day the Ravens Left the Tower
5: Walk Forever By Your Side
6: Strength
7: Dawn Chorus
8: Father to Son
9: Only the Thunder
10: Last Train
11: Absolute Reality

Band Members:

Keyboards: Mark Taylor
Bass: Craig Adams
Vocals/Guitar: Mike Peters
Guitars: James Stevenson
Drums: Smiley

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/TheOfficialAlarm/

https://twitter.com/thealarm

http://www.thealarm.com/

I liked the way there's a theme, with lyrics in one song being a title track or chorus in another. There's a heavy reference to politics in the lyrics so you'll get a bit of a history lesson too. Great musicianship and the sound should appeal to fans of bands like U2, The Quireboys, Stiff Little Fingers and The Boomtown Rats.

About Louise Swift

I first went to a gig in 1981, Gillan at Leeds University. I've been a regular gig goer ever since. I haven't kept count of how many gigs I've been to over the intervening years, but it's a lot! My favourite bands are AC/DC then, in no particular order, Anti-Nowhere League, Slaughter and the Dogs, Towers of London and Dirt Box Disco. I tend to like Glam/Punk and rude offensive lyrics, not sure what that says about me but as Animal would say 'So What!' The question was recently put to me - did I write for any online publications? My reply - No, but I'd like to! Planetmosh was suggested and I found myself offering to review Aces High Festival. Easy peasy I thought! Well not quite, if a jobs worth doing it's worth doing well! I had sixteen bands to research. I found I actually enjoyed that and it kept me too busy to be making lunatic comments on Facebook! ;) Then I felt a bit inadequately qualified. I mean, who am I to comment on others, when my musical expertise extends to being able to play a mean Greensleeves on the recorder and a passable Annie's song on the flute! Haven't picked up either instrument for years! What I do have, however, is over 30 years of experience as a gig goer, so I can comment on what I like and what I don't! It's only my opinion and, if I don't like a band it doesn't mean they are bad, just not to my own liking. I admire anyone who has the guts to get up on that stage and have a go!
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