The Alarm MMVI - Under Attack

I am sure many music fans of my age were sad when they heard the news that Mike Peters of The Alarm had been diagnosed with cancer in late December 2005. What is heartening is to see this new album, and also the news that Peters and his band are touring Britain this year in a series of one off "Saturday" gigs, to be held on the last weekend of each month throughout 2006.

Mike Peters formed the band in 1977, in Rhyl, Wales. The original name was The Toilets, but thankfully they changed that to Seventeen, then the age of all members ofthe band. Throughout the 1980's they toured the world, building quite a large fanbase, opening for U2 on their War tour, and also a fixture on the festival circuit. Their anthem "68 Guns" was a firm favourite, but they could also be capable of a tender, moving sound. "Rain in the Summertime" is for me, the pinnacle of their songwriting - a strong, powerful piece of rock that holds up well today.

In 1991, The Alarm disbanded, but Mike Peter re-organized the group again in 2004 with different members, including Craig Adams (ex The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, The Cult) and Steve Grantley (Stiff Little Fingers), releasing "In the Poppy Fields". The first single from this album caused much controversy after the band credited the track to "The Poppyfields", using a much younger, prettier band of fellows to perform in the video. This single went top 40, their first for 15 years. Follow-up single, credited to The Alarm, with their faces in the video - did less well...

"Under Attack", the new album, sees The Alarm in a very familiar place. It is a rock album, pure and simple, with production from Martin Wilding (The Doves) and George Williams (Babyshambles). Lead song "SuperChannel" starts things but lacks a punch - it is too rooted in the 80's to be interesting by todays standards. "Without A Fight" sounds like a limp Green Day, whilst "My Town" sounds an awful lot like Springsteens "Born to Run". And maybe that is the problem here - most of these songs sound like the music of other bands. "Something's got to Give" sounds like "Hey God" by Bon Jovi. "Be Still" sounds like "I Will Follow" era U2. "This is Life Get Used to It" sounds like Stiff Little Fingers. And so on, and so on.

But, when the band relax and find their own sound, things are pretty good. "Its Alright / Its Ok" is great, a really good, interesting rock song where Peters voice sounds amazing. He also sounds good on "Raindown", another powerful song let down by a rather crass choir at the end. "Something's got to Give", despite sounding like Bon Jovi, also has some emotive vocals and some wonderful guitar. And "Few and Far Between" is a slice of thumping punk rage, a very fine song indeed. Album closer "This is the Way we Are" is good at the start, but soon decends into the rock sound that defines this album - a real shame as the song, when soft and acoustic, sounds great. When the guitars kick in, it just sounds like the rest of the album.

Peters and his band have done a solid job here - the results are nothing special, but if this was a new band, we would be looking forward to what they did next. It is fair to say that as a songwriter, Peters has the potential to still do great things, and it is possible that maybe his best work could still be ahead of him.



out of 10

Last updated: 19/04/2018 06:16:23

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