Always being one to challenge himself and push the boundaries of what is expected of our rock and rollers and having to put up with more than his fair share of hard luck and heartache Peters cannot be killed or derailed by conventional weapons it would seem and goes from strength to strength with each passing year.
A guy who clearly has trouble sleeping and would rather be challenging himself and creating be it writing plays, film scores, albums, tours etc Peters is also unstoppable and regardless of quality in as much as the next album might not be as good as his last one, etc you cannot hold him back nor deter his infectious optimism and love for his craft.
Now I’ll lay my cards out on the table here and state that I’m a bit of an Alarm fanboy and have been for decades and decades and clocked up treble figures for shows attended I’ve got the books the records all the politics. I also am happy to get down off the fence with regards to what period I like the most and if I’m not so keen on a song I’m happy to say it. Oh for the record of course the early years of train station platforms and long bus journeys and lots of hanging around are my fondest memories but I’m not one of the “the original line up is the only line up” brigade because I’m happy to say that I loved the poets and the line up of Adams, Grantley, Stevenson, Peters & Taylor were some of the best shows ever and his earlyish solo albums were awesome as were ‘Under Attack’ period (such a highly productive period) I’ve seen some amazing shows and Gatherings and I can safely say I’ve only ever seen one maybe two under par shows.
Moving onto the new album and whilst I was waiting patiently saving my pennies for the expensive new box set I got a little sidetracked and fell behind on the social media avalanche that sometimes happens from artists and wasn’t sure what was actually happening until I sat down and tried to follow and realised this wasn’t the next album but quickly became something that snowballed and superseded the new album into becoming the newer album – confused? you might be I was. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, ‘War’. I guess lockdown sent some a little loopy and Peters was no exception with all live shows shelved he found himself in a situation that he hadn’t found himself in all his adult life and apart from putting the bins out (Oh I believe he wasn’t sure of what day) he decided to set himself a challenge which evolved into ‘WAR’ A new album written and recorded and released in a matter of weeks! Metallica and Def Lepard look away now. IT couldn’t be done, could it? Pressing plants are bogged up for months with orders? Has Peters built a pressing plant in lockdown? Struck a deal with Old Nick? No, he’s only gone and hand lathed copies hot off the press. Genius! A little expensive for sure but unique and one of a kind. I always have an internal argument with myself when I set a ceiling for how much I’m prepared to pay for my music and always disappoint myself that I have to have it – the kids won’t starve, will they? Oh well, we could all cut down a little and it’s Rock and Roll history being made. Ten songs make up the album and I guess after waffling for the opening few paragraphs I guess it’s time to press play and hear what been cooked up.
The album opens with ‘Protect And Survive’ and as we build up I like it, Raw, vibrant and in your face, with no time to overproduce or use too much technology, it’s where Peters has produced some of his best work over the last few decades. It’s time to take music back to its primitive old-school ways and kick out the jams motherfuckers and this hits the spot. Inspired by what went on in the US in January and that mad day on capitol hill its chaos and compelling moments in time are captured perfectly in the album’s exquisite opener. ‘We Got This’ follows suit with some added acoustic guitar and keyboard stabs but it’s those geetars knocking out the Riffolas that maintains the energy levels.
Maybe, without the time to procrastinate and tinker Peters has taken a brave turn – using songs he’s been working on or finished, and harnessed the urgency of the deadline he’s working towards with great effect. So far after only a handful of plays I can safely say this is the best I’ve heard The Alarm for a few albums. ‘Still Unsafe’ is more laid back and visits themes and lyrical imagery that’s been done by Peters before from day one I guess something he returns to and gets comfort from.
‘Crush’ again turns up the amps and some radio-friendly riffs fall from the speakers and another really enjoyable song burrows into my eardrum. Now I’m not the best at following videos of recording sessions I prefer to wait until a record comes out and then if I like it I’ll revisit the videos (Yeah I know, not how they were intended to be viewed) ‘Warriors’ is uptempo with a bit of synth trickery going on between some impressive riffs that lead to a quality Smiley drum fill before the guitars get stuck in.
‘Fail’ explores a decent melody and I like the Mescaleros breakdowns and I’m sure Strummer would definitely approve and whilst I’m at it he would absolutely approve of this project and the way it was put together. It’s exciting and worthwhile and Peters can hold his head up high and take a little break at least for ‘War’ is a triumph, it’s fresh and bursting with life and energy and most importantly it’s got some of the best work Peters has penned for years.
‘Gods And Demons’ is something of a departure and Peters challenging himself musically and showing you can teach an old dog new tricks. Now the last time I hear Benji Webbe was on the epic Bad Sam song ‘I Love The Port’, I can’t say I ever expected him to rock up on an Alarm album but hey why not? What a collaboration this is and one that could and possibly, no not possibly it should puncture the charts for Rock music. It should draw this album into a whole new world of curious music fans from genres Alarm fans would never have expected to be joined by. ‘Safe From Harm’ is a banger (as the kids say). Pop pickers out there will also notice that it’s a cover of the Massive Attack song and strangely apt for these times we find ourselves living in.
Closing off the album is ‘War (Its Not OVer Yet)’ again another twist of the melon as The band takes on lockdown and the pandemic something we can all relate to wrapped up in a twisted pop song. Now, even though I’ve only played this album a handful of times due to its emergence and the guerilla way it was released – it’s a fantastic triumph and a really strong album full of excellent songs. Ask me in a week what I still think of this album or in a month. I reckon it’ll be on rotation on the RPM death decks and come the summer I’ll be buggin’ my socially distance house guests when I hold a BBQ and tell them the story of this lathe cut album and the story behind it.
The Alarm manage to stay ahead of the pack with an innovative and exciting project that happened and is bloody good to boot – how about that then? Still sticking two fingers up to the haters and penning quality tunes (and covering them) – long live the Alarm and all who play in it.
COLOURSØUND is a project created by none other than Billy Duffy of The Cult and Mike Peters of The Alarm, who first recorded under the name COLOURSØUND in 1998 /1999 when both Duffy was on extended hiatus from the Cult and Peters was going through all sorts with the use of the Alarm name.
The project was unveiled with a set at the Legendary Gathering weekend in North Wales when along with Craig Adams and Johnny Donelly it still to this day rates as one of the highlights of any Gathering and I’ve seen every single on for the last 25 plus years. There was a demo CD ep first and then the album that I’m about to review containing a remastered version with a few added bits here and there I guess but listening to it on record is a real joy. What essentially is the best Cult album the Cult never recorded. It might well have been the catalyst to Asbury regaining his Mojo and getting back with Duffy for Cult duty but that wasn’t until I’d managed to catch a whole bunch of shows from Coloursound in sweaty venues with plenty of volume and a handle on the new material. Revisiting this once again all these years later is cool and its lost none of that rawness and joie de vivre it had back then in the late ’90s. So much so that when I heard that under lockdown they had reconvened to record another album but this time its Duffy and Peters minus the talent of Adams and Garrett.
If I’m being honest Duffy brought out the best in Peters and maybe having that creative riff machine to bounce off Peters excelled and turned in a fantastic performance and it has to be said the same vice versa. Duff plays some of his finest licks for many a year on this album and I have even imagined how it would sound if it were Astbury singing these songs would it have been a smash hit? I believe it would have been but them is the breaks, I’m glad we have this album now and the best-kept secret remains in all the participant’s resumes.
‘Under the Sun’ kicks off with a classic Duffy riff – loud – distorted – loud and with plenty of punch a fantastic album opener in anyone’s book. I remember attending a Coloursound weekend in North Wales where we were played the album in its glory and asked to pick which track should go where and I think I remember correctly everyone in that room had ‘Under The Sun’ as the opener. Still to this day a corker. Considering the album is now twenty-one years old it sounds as fresh as a daisy and the remastering has given it a new lease of life. The record sounds bigger than the CD ever did or at least that’s what my vain brain is telling me (sonically Speaking of course). Maybe changing the tracklist for the vinyl is a time consideration for vinyl or the original running order wasn’t what it should have been (can I collect my prize now?)
I have no clue as to who brought what to the table which must be a compliment to the band seeing as they are all capable fo being involved with some of my favourite songs with their respective bands but with the distance of not having played this in some time songs like ‘State Of Independence’ take me right back to those nights in the Barfly in London and squeezing into the back room with the psychedelic lighting and the melody rattling around my head for ages and loving that bridge. One of the albums standout tracks on an album full of stand out tracks.
For the people who aren’t keen to jump on board with Peters and his day job songwriting need to check out ‘Heavy Rain’ and then give themselves a good shake. A fantastic, vibrant and pulverising song that builds and builds with a thunderous rhythm courtesy of Adams bass thump which enables Duffy to keep it simple sure it leans on The Cult formula on the chorus and the bass distortion before that solo is still fuckin’ awesome.
‘Alive’ still has the brooding drama before the punch and who doesn’t like a trademark pause before Duffy unleashes his trademark riff and I would say solo but he does that all over this one. Sounds awesome through my speakers sir. Even if it does seem weird with it ending side one after all this time.
‘Fade In Fade Out Fade Away’ opens side two and always was a great sing-along and again time hasn’t dulled the song at all. from the moment Adams bass enters as Duffy wanders across the fretboard this song was a live favourite and the remastering hasn’t killed any of that live feel when the drums kicks in. Peters best vocal performance on the record hands down. The original long sold out versions came with a bonus single-sided lockdown re-recording of ‘FIFOFA’ but its never going to hit the heights of the original.
I’m happy for the rejig of the running order its breathed new life into songs like ‘For The Love Of’ which might have been overshadowed on the original running order (if that makes sense?) sometimes its nice to just put on your shit kickers and do it!
The album does chill for a bit with ‘A View From A Different Window’ I always liked the rhythm and the acoustic guitar fits in nicely. I’ve no clue why but it always reminded me of Bowie maybe from his Tin Machine project but I always loved this song. with only a couple of tracks left I guess it’s fair to say I love the fact that this record finally gets a vinyl release which it most certainly deserves. The news that it will soon be joined by Coloursound two is a beautiful thing and I’m excited to hear what they’ve come up with a couple of decades later. Now if this virus would kindly fark off maybe just maybe we could accompany the release of Coloursound two with a live show or two that would be jolly nice please Gents.
‘CLANG! Smiley Drops A Few’ is the brainchild work of Steve Barnard, better known (by everyone!) as Smiley! He is best known as a drummer, songwriter, producer, and owner of his own, Sunshine Corner, studios. Smiley has, over the past 25 years, played with a plethora of the great and good (and, sometimes, not so good) of the music industry. His CV is littered with artists such as, Robbie Williams, Joe Strummer, The Mock Turtles, From The Jam, The Alarm, and, Archive; to ‘CLANG!’ just six. This book is packed full of stories around many years of live shows, tours, TV, Radio, festivals , pub gigs, corporate events, and, often hilariously, weddings. It gives an amusing insight to life from inside the music industry, a view from the back of the stage, but also from the next door dressing room. There are, inevitably, highs and lows; but all are approached, and told, in Smiley’s own, inimitable, way. Smiley engagingly recalls stories connected to all sorts of showbiz luminaries, from Liam & Noel, Weller, The Who, The Foo Fighters, and The Chili Peppers; right through to encounters with Sting, Zoe Ball, East 17, and Peter Andre. One of the great joys of the book is the tongue in cheek style in which these stories are recounted. It’s not in any way boastful, but chock full of showbiz inspired anecdotes; hence the title, ‘CLANG!’. Everybody loves a name drop, and this book is stacked high in funny, and off the wall, stories. If you like a good old tale about a household name (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?) then this is definitely the book for you.
It almost took as long to write in the Tags for this book as it did to rip my way through the pages such is the vast collection of Clangs Smiley drops. I wouldn’t have liked to be the person carrying the bag of Clangs or picking them up every time he dropped one. The one thing you do try to get your head around is just how varied the people Smiley has sat in with its simply a staggering amount of folk and how the guy still manages such a huge grin is amazing.
C’mon we all love a Clang! I know I do and knowing about the guy’s musical history and having seen him play dozen and dozens of times over the years I found I was laughing out loud with every Clang and as I turned the pages had to check nobody was watching me chuckle or I’d have been committed to a special hospital.
Former Tiny Monroe and The Snakes guitar slinger Richard Davies takes centre stage for the first time as principal songwriter and singer with the Dissidents, a band who include Mega City Four/The Snakes drummer Chris Cannon and Last Great Dreamers bassist Tim Emery.
As well as playing guitar for indie band Tiny Monroe in the 90’s, and recording 3 albums with alt country collective The Snakes, Richard Davies has also worked with the likes of Glen Matlock and Peter Perritt as a hired gun, which sure ain’t a bad place to be.
An album that has been a long time coming, ‘Human Traffic’ was recorded last year and deals in retrospective songs of life, love and human nature.
If you like your rock ‘n’ roll from the shady side of town, where the nights are so long and starry-eyed girls have that certain shake appeal, then ‘Human Traffic’ will be right up your ally.
The title track gets things off to a power pop start. This is high energy rock ‘n’ roll, with guitars slung low and lyrics from the heart. A stripped-back, ramshackle sound can’t hide Davies’ knack for a catchy melody and ‘Human Traffic’ is first of several tunes to channel Ian Hunter in his prime.
The material is mostly originals from the heart and soul of the main man, with a few choice covers thrown in for good measure. ‘Lay Me Low’ is a traditional Shaker hymn re-worked with ‘Dissident’ style to sound like an outtake from Michael Monroe’s first solo offering. ‘Heartbeat Smile’ is a cover of an Alejandro Escovedo tune, and in the hands of The Dissidents, it’s a rollicking, Stonesy ride with solid beats, Keef style riffs and Mick-like hollerin’. Richard Davies also recalls his past with a new take on the Tiny Monroe song ‘Under The Skin’.
Of the originals on offer, it is hard to pick a favourite, as they are all pretty strong to be fair. Latest single ‘21st Century Man’ is power pop perfection to the max. With hooks you’ll swear you’ve heard before, the chorus is as catchy as the verses are cool. Think Elvis Costello meets The Replacements here, tinny guitars and cowbell give that added retro 80’s alternative feel. It’s a theme that reappears throughout the album. A tinkling of the ivories and spaghetti western guitar twang give ‘Way Of The Wild’ a certain anthemic feel, like The Alarm meets The Psychedelic Furs. A memorable, driving chorus only adds to the appeal for me. And is that Rick Richards jamming with Tom Petty on the ‘(Long Road) To Your Heart’? No, it’s only Richard Davies & The Dissidents jamming it out and putting their heart and soul into their rock ‘n’ roll music. What a tune! It has classic stamped all over it, as guitars riff loosely over a ramshackle beat that builds to a killer chorus.
In cool hat, dark shades and brandishing a guitar, Richard Davies emerges from the shadows with an accomplished debut album, choc-a-bloc with rootsy rock ‘n’ roll to soothe the soul.
Why it’s taken him so long to get an album out is anyone’s guess. But hopefully, this is the start of something long and productive, as Richard Davies & The Dissidents have released an album that harks back to simpler times, but still has the tunes and the staying power to match any of the other great rock records released so far this year.
Well, these are strange times and Rock and Roll won’t be clamped down even if we are. Thanks to the magic of this here interweb we can still get our mitts on new music (gloved up of course) first up on this playlist is a right banger from Noo Yawk Citys Wyldlife . It’s recently been reviewed on RPM and I happen to agree with Ben when he claimed it could be a contender for record of the year. We have added ‘Sacre Bleu’ to our banging playlist.
Next up is a band from Sweden called Dictator Ship and Fraser covered this one and ‘Your Favourite’ is a great slice of scandiRock with ‘Eat The Poor’ making the cut in our Playlist.
Australia is quickly becoming the epicentre of Global Garage Rock and you sure can add The Chats to that list of fine Australian bands and with their recent record ‘High Risk Behaviour’ hitting the shelves we’ve included ‘ The Kids Need Guns’ to our playlist with its classic DC early days rawness and their snotty lyrics The Chats rightly are causing a stir around this globe all of their own.
It’s not all snotty records this month we did have some offerings from the Classic Rock and Grunge crossover of Buffalo Summer so included the excellent ‘Hit The Ground Running’ taken off their recently released album ‘Desolation Blue’ with some fine cool slide on the otherwise beefy riffs it’s a real tour de force from Soth Wales on this new album.
It might have been a lifetime ago that The Psychedelic Furs last released a new album but the wait is over and Made Of Rain is almost upon us. We’ve included the first single taken from the record ‘You’ll Be Mine’.
Naked Six have a new album out and the lead track off that album is ’21st Century Brawl’ and that makes our playlist with its jarring poke before the album kicks off with some great tunes. Well worth investigating so let this opener suck you in but don’t forget to buckle up.
Ben found his stereo working overtime as The City Kids released ‘Things That Never Were’ so we’ve added ‘You Get Nothing’ To our playlist.
I know a girl, a girl called Party, Party Girl. Bono sang that but the Dahlmanns sing ‘Party Girl’ which was released as part of a split with Tommy & The Rockets on Beluga Records a classic castanets clacking slice of power pop with saxophone and New Wave approved piano.
Then Comes Silence who we include ‘Devils’ from their most excellent ‘Machines’ album that was recently reviewed with some dark Goth undertones this has been on heavy rotation around some RPM circles as the corpse paint went on and certain writers were only venturing out after dark with this on their playlists. Get on it kids.
If a bit of Goth isn’t your thang then why not grow out those sidies and some facial hair and get on down with Rookie. We’ve got ourselves a ‘One Way Ticket’ to listen to this great playlist and ride out this Global pandemic.
As well as some awesome reviews April sees us bring some news that bands push out so why not include some of the movers and shakers who are busy this month either re arranging tours or putting the final touches on new releases. How about some Rock with American Jetset? ‘Gold & Nines’ is classic cock rock n roll so it makes the cut. Our old friend Jizzy Pearl also announced that he has signed a new deal with Golden Robot Records so expect some new music and live shows soon. We head back to when he did the album ‘Just A Boy’ and include the cracker ‘Do You Wanna Get High’.
With everybody with a guitar and camera phone shooting home shows we have a few suggestions of who you could check out starting with Rich Ragany & The Digressions who bring ‘Later Than It Is’ to our playlist off the excellent debut album and rumour has it that recording has begun for the follow up which commenced before this lockdown but be sure we’ll bring you the news as and when.
Another artist smashing the numbers watching his home broadcast is Mike Peters with his ‘Big Night In’ I’ve not tuned in yet but rest assured I will. Heres one from his recent output ’13 Dead Raindeers’. Another live streamer is Jesse Malin who we also interviewed recently and who has a brand new single out sadly it’s not on this service yet so make do with a cut off his last album ‘Chemical Heart’.
There’s fifteen reasons to stay in and have RPM Playlist be your companion and while away the hours playing some quality rock and roll . Go on a journey of discovery and see where it takes you as you avoid the rocks on the choppy water of Rock and Roll 2020.
All roads lead North as this scribe makes the twenty-sixth consecutive January trip for a weekend of all things Alarm and Mike Peters. This one’s been hashtagged #Thiscouldbethelasttime so something was up but what exactly? As we enter the arena for the Friday nights performance it was no ordinary concert this one was more an experience. This one was with a twist, no not the original drummer but a performance split into three acts, first up – MIKE PETERS AND THE HURRICANE OF CHANGE Performing ‘DOWNSTREAM’. A bold attempt at mixing the monologue performed by Sean Jones (Blood Brothers, Macbeth) who weaved his way through the audience around the venue whilst the band played reconstructed songs from Peter’s back catalogue. ‘Newtown Jericho’ sparked the Rebecca Riots that moved through the audience that worked well. Act One closed with the Sharp classic ‘One Step Closer To Home’ which reunited Peters with original songwriter, the song always sends a shiver down my spine no matter how many times I’ve heard it tonight was particularly good.
Every year the Gathering has been split into Friday night – a looser mostly acoustic affair sometimes in the round, a more eclectic evening where Peters has attempted to push himself in different directions sometimes it worked amazingly well other more interesting or full of new unheard material but never the same.
It’s a bit of a free shot to be fair seeing as the tables have been turned and fans have travelled from near and far to Peters home area for almost three decades and have gone with whatever has been thrown their way with Saturday being a day filled with Alarm related fanboy activities and then Saturday night is the more traditional show often of Springsteen length performances.
So, back to Hurricane Of Change whilst Sean Jones narrated using Alarm lyrics from that specific period it was interesting and it was out there as far as performances go. It was maybe something of a work in progress to be fair. Whilst it can be rehearsed you’ll never know until you get out there in front (or amongst) a live audience.
When finely tuned maybe it will work really well. Maybe something for S4C or BBC to do on TV where it can be cut and edited where the idea would be amazing. Rather than just knock out an acoustic show (which would have been suffice and safe) Peters doesn’t do safe so I’d take this every night of the week. A Bold and brave move and certainly interesting viewing.
I’m not particularly a fan of bands who chew up their back catalogue (usually) to keep it interesting for themselves and the audience but I guess the old adage of damned if you do would certainly apply to the Gathering. Play the same old same old year after year might please many so I get why this has been split into three parts tonight and as ambitious as it is. It’s cool to see it first and maybe next time it’ll be tweaked and be a lot smoother but that’s no criticism. it is a lot to take in and it was great to see Dave Sharp make another cameo appearance as he joined in with tonight’s band -that saw George Williams playing keys and bass for the performance alongside Smiley, James and Jules.
If I had to pick a favourite moment To be fair part three was excellent, people held up cards with a song request on it and Peters played it. Tonight we got some songs that he hasn’t played in a while and it was great to hear old classics like ‘Lie Of The Land’ and especially ‘What Kind Of Hell’.
The elephant in the room had nothing to do with music tonight with it being the 31st of January. We were reminded that tonight was Brexit and at eleven Big ben would bong. A moment marked on the big screens. Not particularly something many gave a shit about and it would seem more didn’t even want but on the hour Big Ben bonged and it was a bit of a deflator to be honest even if the ridiculousl=ness was poignantly marked by playing Python. Going back to what was a highlight from tonight was it seemed right to play ‘Day The Ravens Left The Tower’ and ‘The Deceiver’ back to back and then to follow it up with a rousing ‘Rocking In The Free World’ which only left ‘Walk Forever By My Side’ and the classic ’68 Guns’ to close the Friday night. A pretty decent opener for the weekend to be fair, bring on a good night’s sleep and see what the Saturday night brings. ITs always a pleasure to be in Venue Cymru on Gathering Friday.
For those early birds, you can fill your day totally fanboying out on all things Mike Peters and the Alarm I’d recommend it at least once it can be great fun and a good way to meet and greet friends old and new.
The doors swing open at 10.00 when 21st Century Film – SECRET CINEMA is in operation with a secret screening of a life-saving show that fans will only have ever seen in the theatre. This is followed by the annual Alarm Mastermind with Modnuss Modnusson (hardcore nurds need only apply) this quiz isn’t easy and under the full glare of the light and all the fellow Gatherers watching it can be daunting even for the most hardcore Alarm fanboys and girls. This is then followed by a Keynote Address from Mike Peters that I’m aware was to announce the details of next year’s plans with no annual Gathering in Llandudno in January or at least not as we’ve come to know it but a string of summer shows to celebrate 40 years of Alarm music.
Then at 6 pm the lucky 300 are let in early where details of record store day release is unveiled as well as questions from the floor and a chance for a young girl to request ‘One Guitar’ which Peters duly plays and Compare Gareth Jones (Gaz Top) invites the young lady up to play the tambourine and make her weekend. The stuff dreams are made of for all of us music fans never mind a young child. There was also a new track premiered as always so much to take in. Peters and The Alarm show no signs of winding down or easing up with the next 18 months being mapped out already.
The doors then swing open for the evening’s extravaganza where Dave Sharp plays his solo set before The latest set up of the Alarm take the stage for another extraordinary evening of Rock and Roll from Peters past. Sure it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t get ’68 Guns’ or the blistering ‘Deeside’ and as newer songs rub shoulders with the “old” classics. ‘Cenotaph’ and ‘Neutral’ sound great alongside ‘Superchannel’ and ‘My Town’. Sure there have been unbelievable Gatherings like when Coloursound rocked up and almost took the roof off the venue way back in time or the more recent epic four-hour set. The line ups have changed and I’m sure we’ve all had our favourites but tonight Peters is as passionate as ever leaving nothing behind in the changing room and playing as passionately as the first gathering or the twenty-first the man is indeed an inspiration. Smiley is like a machine in the engine room hammering away on his kit the most Moon the loon like drummer out there and great to watch. He looks like he’s having the best time of his life every time he sits behind his kit. The longest member other than Peters is James Stevenson who has left his own unique stamp on some of the classic tunes as well but I can’t help but feel I’d love to hear him just play the guitar – there’s something about the traditional lineup and I can’t help it but I do miss Adams thump on that bass. I know times change and accept that this is where The Alarm is now and accept it – I’m sure it’ll evolve again someday it all makes for a rich tapestry and I’m not one of the fans who crave the original line up. Sure I’d love to see a set for old times sake but we’ve moved on and that’s also cool. We almost certainly wouldn’t have had 45 RPM from that lineup nor songs like ‘Two Rivers’ so swings and roundabouts and its what makes attending this weekend such a buzz.
I’ve always looked forward to heading North every year and wondering what might unfold. The Gatherings in Pontins were different but Venue Cymru is the spiritual home and it feels right. I will no doubt miss it come next January but the recent announcement of St Davids Hall, Rhyl and Prestatyn something to look forward to as we go back to the real intimate shows which will no doubt be brilliant. The Gathering has been unique events with some real hard work to mix it up by team MPO some have worked amazingly well other maybe not. I used to enjoy the impromptu late-night Clash sets in the Hydro with people like MTV Alex Coletti turning up or when Steve Diggle was steaming and giving it to the tories (God Blass Him) From the Venue Cymru. My favourite was Coloursound and as far as line ups go When Craig Adams (The Mission), Mark Taylor (Lords Of The New Church), Smiley and James Stevenson they were an unstoppable force who were a match for any live band on any stage.
Hopefully, this wasn’t the last Gathering in this format it can’t be. I tip my hat to Jules and everyone who puts this together because there isn’t anything quite like it and I simply don’t want it to end, what will I do every January? Love Hope & Strength to you all and keep on keeping yourselves alive. Life-affirming and another immense weekend of performances.
Check out our Spotify Playlist and check out the bands. Of course they’re great we’ve reviewed them or will be reviewing them this month. First up Doojiman & The Exploders with ‘Buzzkill’. More Kicks are a band we can’t get enough of so check out their latest single.
The Drowns have a new album this month so why not check out their in your face punk rock with the album opener ‘Black Lung’. ‘Tommy In The 80s’ from the ever magnificent Beach Slang is in this month’s playlist because it and they re so good.
We thought we’d add New Bomb Turks – no they haven’t got a new album out (wish they did) but because we can. Enjoy it. Supersuckers have a new album out so only fair they get included.
One of the best albums released this year is without doubt Humanist so here’s a track featuring Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan. On the live front this month The Interrupters have been tearing it up across the UK so check out their cover of ‘Bad Guy’. Staying on the live front, Backyard Babies have been entertaining many of the RPM team so let’s go back to when they ruled and some ‘UFO Romeo’. On the same tour, The Wildhearts were busy schooling their Swedish travel companions and showed you can teach old dogs new tricks because ‘Dislocated’ sounded brutal. Its the Wildhearts of course.
It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t include some Black MEtal at its finest courtesy of the new top dogs Midnight with ‘Fucking Speed And Darkness’.
The Alarm are up with ‘My Town’ which got aired at the Gathering 2020. Stateside our man Gerald raved about Soraia who are ‘Dangerous’.
So there you have it another right old mixed bag of Rock and Roll for February. That lot should keep you entertained for the rest of the month so we’ll see you back in March so until then keep it RPM
It’s not unusual for me to spend a Saturday evening travelling to a gig, but a gig less than 20 minutes away, what a bonus! Pity my Brains main man Jamie Richards is developing quite a schizophrenic personality (gig wise at least) with the Pity my Brain alter ego Woodfired summit (check em out on facebook ) putting on this little shindig led by the Alarm’s main man Mike Peters. Now I have to admit never having heard of the venue itself and with Crickhowell being such a tiny place I initially spent a bit of time wondering where the Hell have they put a concert venue? Directions sorted and a real pleasant surprise that it could, in fact, hold about 300. That’s for a seated gig, which this started out as.
Settling in front and centre you had the feeling that this had the potential to be a bit special, and finding out that there were going to be two hour-long sets tonight the first Act being called Downstream (Eye of the hurricane) and the second act Upstream (Change) with the additional encore made up of crowd faves and requests. What I couldn’t imagine at the beginning was that the songs from both seminal albums weren’t going to be just stripped back acoustica, but totally reworked and re-interpreted, adding in the fact that the albums had been torn apart, reset mixed up to supply a narrative, a story if you like that runs throughout, then add in some addition work again placed in order but all the while building the story.
Looking around the rapidly filling venue seeing the Alarm flags draped over the upstairs balcony, picking up the hint of anticipation from the crowd, it was time to strap in and at 7.30 exactly we began, one man, kick bass drum, harmonica and electric acoustic.
Opening with a spoken word intro picked up by Mike and we’re into “A New South Wales” sounding nothing like I’ve ever heard it presented before, the sparse backdrop, minimal lighting bringing the focus onto Mike Peters, the voice as strong as ever.
This is no simple rerun of the aforementioned albums, and in Act 1 the songs that really stood out were “Ghost’s of Rebecca”, “The Ballad of Randolph Turpin” and “Irish sea”, fitting so well, they could/should have taken their place on Eye of the Hurricane?.
I think at this point there are a couple of strands of the story starting to come together, a story steeped in Welsh Tradition and History, moving into the industrial revolution, before becoming about one mans life, and what keeps him moving forward, never losing touch with his heartland, the place of his birth. The man’s legacy as imagined becoming ever entwined with his own cultural identity.
As we moved through Act 1 standouts also included “Rain in the Summertime” “Only love can set me free” and “One step closer to home”
Moving into Act 2 opening with “Where a town once stood” there’s a very different feel, heavier more raw almost bluesy and for me the nite really took off with stunning versions of “Sold me down the river”, “Prison without bars”, “Scarlet” and “Devolution working mans blues”, within the narrative I think a point of realization for the narrator, a sense of where they are and struggles defeated and struggles to come. Fair play this is Mike Peters putting himself out there, raw emotional and in your face.
But to my one gripe of the evening, when an artist is pouring out their soul, SHUT THE FUCK UP OR LEAVE THE VENUE!!!! I never get why people pay to get pissed and talk all through an acoustic performance, go home and settle in with your Strongbow watch the X factor where your knowledge of music can be espoused without annoying other people who likewise have paid to see said artist. Perhaps we could give promoters a licence to cull the idiots. Rant over !!!!
Coming back for the encore we get “Strength”, “Spirit of 76”, “Blaze of Glory” and two requests “The Majority” and “Bells of Rhymney”, by this time very few in the venue are still seated!!!!
It’s back to the alter ego with Pity my Brains 5th party coming up at Clwb Ifor Bach, on the 9th of November. Here’s to many more years of musical diversity and perhaps promoters being given the power to do something about the idiots more interested in getting pissed and talking rather than listening to music.
Exclusive Pre-order date from Wednesday September 25th at 7.00 PM UK Time / 2.00 pm US EDT / 11.00 am PST
On October 1st 2019, Mike Peters will release a brand new LIMITED EDITION Alarm masterwork entitled ‘STREAM’ [Hurricane of Change].
STREAM [Hurricane of Change] will only be released as a limited edition collection exclusively via www.thealarm.com
The collection includes:
STREAM [Hurricane of Change] Double CD Edition – 39 Tracks including brand new songs and narration by Mike Peters.
EYE OF THE HURRICANE [30th Anniversary Vinyl Edition]10 track re-imagined vinyl version of the 1987 original.
CHANGE [30th Anniversary Vinyl Edition] 12 track re-imagined vinyl version of the 1989 original.
ELECTRIC FOLKLORE LIVE[30th Anniversary CD Edition]. Mike Peters recorded in concert at the Norwegian Church, Cardiff.
COLLECTORS TOTE BAG
LIMITED EDITION ‘500’ NUMBERED ART CARD Personally Signed by Mike Peters.
This brand new release from The Twenty First Century Recording Company is only available exclusively through www.thealarm.com and will not be made available anywhere else in this format (see below for artwork, track listings and recording information).
STREAM [Hurricane of Change]will take listeners on a unique musical adventure that flows both downstream and upstream, telling a moving autobiographical story as lived and breathed by Mike Peters and The Alarm from 1986-1990.
The double CD Edition features 39 pieces of brand new recorded music, all joined together by a Mike Peters spoken word essay, that weaves a brand new narrative into the original lyrical DNA of such classic Alarm songs as Rain In The Summertime, Rescue Me, One Step Closer To Home, Sold Me Down The Riverand A New South Wales. There’s also a host of brand new song recordings including the raging acoustic guitar driven Irish Sea, and the dramatic Ballad of Randolph Turpin.
‘In order to capture the very essence of these classic / new Alarm songs, and to try and further understand what they truly mean to me for this, their 30th Anniversary. I went back and re-examined all the original lyrics from beginning to end,” says Mike Peters. “By reading the collected lyrics in chronological order from the first song created – A New South Wales(written for Eye of the Hurricane, but only released as the last song on Change), I was amazed to discover a whole new perspective, and by putting the lyrics in chronological order (and including songs I was unable to present at the time), I began to realise that I had unknowingly written a very autobiographical account of how my life (and the life of the band), played out in the second half of the nineteen-eighties. By starting at the very beginning of the musical structure that these songs were born into, and following the lyrical narrative through to its natural conclusion, I was able to make sense of the songs in a completely new way.”
“I have often talked in interviews about the experience of leaving Wales at the beginning of the eighties, only to return through the creative process that gave birth to the Eye of The Hurricane, Electric Folkloreand Change trilogy of albums”, continues Mike.“By looking at the lyrics afresh, I have now been able to fully realise what I was grasping for as a songwriter and lyricist in 1987-1989. Back then, my confidence had been blunted by a difficult creative process, and I had always privately felt that there was a lot more left to be discovered within the original body of music. With these new recordings, I have been able to realise a torrent of new possibilities and emotions and, in turn, draw them out of the very same songs. By recording STREAM [Hurricane of Change] in this new way, I feel that I have been able to liberate my original lyrical vision and re-present the music in a way that I believe, is just as relevant, if not more vital than ever before.”
STREAM [Hurricane of Change] has been produced in its entirety by George Williams who also produced Blood Red Viral Black, Equalsand Sigma.
“George Williams (the producer), listened to all my demos and suggested that I should really examine the song sequence”, continues Mike Peters. “George thought that the new directions I had pushed the music towards were really strong, but because there was so much material, a unifying track-listing needed to be found early on. I accepted the challenge, and began reading through the lyrics to see if I could find a common theme that would pull everything together as one. As soon as I looked at the words in this new way, I was inspired to write STREAMas a complete story, which in turn led me towards the idea of using narration as a bridge between the songs.
By the time we got to Sain Studios in North Wales to record (just after The Gathering on February 8th 2019,) I proposed to both George and Alarm drummer Smiley, that we create each piece of music in chronological order, so that our individual roles and performances could be informed by the context of the STREAMnarrative. It was a revelation to literally go ‘Downstream’ through the music of Eye of the Hurricaneon the first session and then a month later (on March 21st), travel back ‘Upstream’ with the songs of Change. A musical journey that inspired Smiley to perform at his absolute best, and myself to give what I believe, are some of the most emotive vocal performances of my entire career. Once we had completed the song cycle and with Jules helping out on piano and backing vocals, we all knew that something truly special had been created, and so from the 27th September, it’s going to be you – the listener’s turn to make the same musical journey as we did.”
I truly believe that Stream [Hurricane of Change], contains some of the best recorded music of my entire career, and I’m convinced that by sharing and recycling the music in this new exciting way, it will allow everyone who has ever loved the original ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’ and ‘Change’ albums to see them in a brand new light and to be able to enjoy them again – reborn.”
‘Stream’ [Hurricane of Change]will be released on Friday 27th September 2019 to coincide with the start of the Hurricane Of Change UK Tour, and will only be available as a special limited edition complete collection package. The Complete Collection is priced at £99.99 [plus p&p].