Thursday, February 03, 2011


I first became aware of The Alarm in 1984 when I won a contest and received an autographed copy of their album Declaration. It was the Wales based groups first full length album and it was the first time I had ever heard of them. When I played the album for the first time I was immediately hooked. At the same time U2 were becoming huge and friends were pleading with me to jump aboard the U2 bandwagon, which I didn't do because I just couldn't get into their music. Meanwhile I was trying to get my buddies to listen to The Alarm and was constantly extolling their virtues and they couldn't get them. This many years later I have come to appreciate U2, but I still don't listen to them that much. 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 really broke beyond a collegiate audience. Declaration has drive, power, passion and poetry. Released in 1984, songs like "Marching On" and "Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke" showcase the band's ability to straightforwardly rock, but most of the album consists of the sort of stirring anthems that they'd become famous for in their later works. One song on the album called The Stand is a song whose lyrics were inspired by Stephen King's novel of the same name (which is also my favorite book of all time).  The Alarm were a good band that has been underappreciated and maybe they deserve a second listen.

Marching On
Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke
Buy It

Funny Toon


Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas said...

At the time, a lot of bands were being compared to U2 for having an earnest vibe, which The Alarm definitely had going on.

(musically, I always thought that Simple Minds was closer to U2)

But, I'm with you that The Alarm does deserve a bit more love, especially their first couple albums.