Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Alarm

Today in Music History:

1989, Izzy Stradlin from Guns N' Roses was arrested for making a public disturbance on a US air flight. Stradlin had urinated on the floor, verbally abused a stewardess and smoked in the non-smoking section of the aircraft.
The AlarmI first became aware of The Alarm in 1984 when I won a contest and received an autographed copy of their album Declaration. First time I had ever heard of them. When I played the album for the first time I was immediately hooked. This during a time when friends were pleading with me to jump aboard the U2 bandwagon, which I refused to do because I just didn't think they were that great. At the same time I was trying to get my buddies to listen to The Alarm and was constantly extolling their virtues. This many years later I have come to appreciate U2, but still think they are overhyped. I mention this because from the time that The Alarm formed in Rhyl, Wales in 1981, they were dogged throughout their career as a poor mans U2. This comparison I never saw and never understood. It just wasn't a fair comparison.

The Alarm were part of an early-'80s wave of bands (the Call, Big Country, and the Waterboys among them) who dealt in soaring anthems inspired by the righteous idealism of punk. Clearly influenced by the impassioned political fervor of the Clash, the Alarm also worked in a mostly acoustic, folk-punk vein that provided a counterpoint to U2's hard-driving guitar sound. Their stage look was unquestionably a product of the '80s, with enormous spiked-up hair accompanying a cowboy/old-time cavalry wardrobe. The British music press habitually savaged their records as derivative and pretentious, and while they did command a zealous following, they never broke beyond a collegiate audience. Unfair I say. So a cut from The Alarm's second album, Strength, is the feature of today. If one goes back and listens to the first two Alarm albums, I think you'll hear a good band that is underappreciated and maybe they deserve a second look.

Spirit of '76' by The Alarm

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