When is a new album not really a new album? Um, well this one to be fair. During lockdown, Mike Peters recorded a plethora of new tunes in the wake of insurrection day in Washington DC. The album came out under the title ‘WAR’ and was pressed individually on a lathe press. Each copy came with a hand-drawn cover from Peters’ fair hand nonetheless and was the singularly most expensive record I’ve ever bought.

Since Lockdown and Insurrection Day things have improved in as much as we have the ability to attend live shows, gather and travel and back to some sort of normal (if where we are now is normal then yup normal) After witnessing an impressive show on The Alarms recent jaunt around the UK, news of the impending Alarm record was exciting and something I was looking forward to.

Maybe I didn’t read the memo or wasn’t paying attention (nothing new there then) this new album (on a rather nice splatter variant might I add)is that rather expensive ‘War’ album at a much more affordable price and an added new track. Anyway, I was impressed with that album and the story surrounding its birth into the world so when I go this new variant home (Housed in a collage of insurrection debris) the packaging is nice compared to the ‘War’ lathe cut one so that’s a bonus. Anyway onto the music.

On first spin, I can’t notice any immediate mastering wizardry from the previous recordings (although I am now aware there are special bundled versions available from the Alarm central but having just splashed out on a bunch of reissued records and the recent coloursound album I couldn’t stretch my funds just far enough to get the alternative mixes). I stand by my review for the ‘War’ record and whilst I’ve not played it for a while the songs sounded great live.

Sure it’s not groundbreaking sound-wise but the concept and way the record was grown are excellent and a sense of urgency is captured in the songs from the opening energetic rush of ‘Protect And Survive’ it’s a style Peters does very well and one I love hearing. The Alarm are a very different beast to the 68 Guns line up and have never let the grass grow around their collective feet and whilst I love hearing the classics I also love hearing new music and like it or loath it challenging himself to write new music is whats kept Peters moving forwards. It seems weird saying these songs have stood the test of time as they’re on a new album albeit 18 months old. some of the songs have certainly stood that test – still sounding fresh and energetic. The cover featuring Benji Webbe of Dub War is one of the stand-out tracks doing a sterling job covering someone else’s tune but by no means the best on offer here.

Some of the songs have jumped the queue like ‘Crush’ which are vibrant slabs of rock even with their gregorian style backing vocals. It also reminds me of the first few early poet’s singles with the use of the harmonica and aggressive rhythm. the musicianship is again of exceptional quality and Smiley does his best Moon on ‘Crush’. You can hear the energy Peters has managed to capture throughout the songs as to the mood it draws from when the attack on the Hill was taking place in real-time. ‘War (It’s Not Over Yet)’ is a fine example of what was unfolding and Peters vocals are excellent in capturing the chaos and craziness of what went on.

Side two opens with the excellent ‘Warriors’ with its skanking rhythm on the verses and great use of the one-finger piano line that flows well into the anthemic chorus. A lot of bands used to front-load their albums and put the most impactful and instantly impressive tunes early doors and keep the “album tracks” for filling out an album but not here folks this album gets stronger and stronger as it unfolds. ‘Gods And Demons’ is a bruising affair with heavy guitars hacking and slashing as Peters howls at the moon with the punchy lyrics, another excellent song, especially as it’s in deep cut territory.

Covers, love them, or loath them most bands do them, and ‘Safe From Harm’ is a good shout in the concept of this record, and getting Benji Webbe on board works perfectly on this rocked-up version of the Massive Attack song. Leaving just the one song, the new song that wasn’t on the War album – ‘Time To Start Over’ closes the album with its modern rock feel, Peters delivers a strong vocal before signing off.

I will make the exception of owning two copies of the same album but with a different title here because I love The Alarm and to be fair this is a bloody good album be it ‘WAR’ or ‘Omega’ it’s one you should really check out. not because I say so but because it’s a damn good record and has some of Mike Peters best songs for a while on it and that’s always a good thing. Hopefully, Mike Peters can get back to full health and keep on marching on and pushing himself to make new music.

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Author: Dom Daley

After not being able to go to see The Alarm on their 40th Anniversary UK Tour apart from the recent Gathering weekend in Rhyl it was Bristol that got canceled after the band was caught in a police incident on the M4 on the way to the venue that led to a last-minute rearrangement and then the date was arranged for the final night of the tour on Easter Sunday – Hooray! a date I can go to never mind eating chocolate fire up the batmobile and all roads lead to Bristol.

On arrival at the O2 Mr sharp was already on stage running through his fine selection of warm honest folk songs with the odd Alarm classic thrown in for good measure. When the final knockings of the original lineup (many moons ago) were being played out Mr. Sharp released an exceptional album in the shape of ‘Hard Travellin’ (surely its time this classic got a release on wax Mr. Sharp? Pretty Please. He followed it up with 1996’s ‘Downtown America’ which also could do with a rerelease on vinyl, thanks. In a venue like the O2 a minstrel and his weapon of choice alone on the stage maybe needs a band to shift some gears rather than a balladeer set but that’s just my observation tonight. I do always enjoy hearing his raspy voice on these songs but maybe next time it’ll be electric with a band.

As for the Alarm 2022 it’s an altogether different beast to the older traditional setup with Peters patrolling the stage moving between three mics at the stage front flanked by Mrs. Peters on keys to one side and the very talented Mr. James Stevenson on guitar to the other flank. I do find his skills on the six-string a much better form on the songs of The Alarm both older and new rather than on previous tours when he switched between the bass and a bit of guitar. Also in the engine room, the ever-beaming Smiley hits the drums with vigour and purpose that really drives the songs.

It takes me a wee bit to get my head around the using of bass tracks rather than a bass player but to be fair it doesn’t take anything away from the music other than another body on stage I guess. It is what it is and we move on no doubt something for the faithful to debate because the Alarm family likes nothing more than a good old lineup debate.

As for tonight’s setlist, I must admit I’m a sucker for deep cuts setlists, having seen the band (cough cough) play well into three figures its fair to say I like the music old, new borrowed and blue. Tonight Bristol being the final night of the tour began with a sprightly ‘Protect And Survive’ it was Peter on a mission with little crowd interaction but a hell of a lot of music to throw our way. ‘Absolute Reality’ sounded fresh and then it was ’45 RPM’ to lift the energy levels one last time over the last twenty-plus dates before we got the first new song ‘Fail’ from the summer’s new records that is done and dusted. It was a bruising ‘Superchannel’ before we got ‘Wars’ Cover ‘Safe From Harm’ minus the Benji Webb vocal.

Peters found himself center stage for ‘Coming Home’ and a bluesy ‘Sold Me Down The River’. The band returns for a sort of medley of ‘In The Poppyfield’ that saw the band blitz through songs from all corners of the band’s catalogue from the ‘Stand’ through Everythings Beautiful via the much underrated ‘Shout To The Devil’, ‘For Freedom’ and ‘where Were You Hiding’ it was also peppered with Peters solo music in the shape of the rousing ‘Closer’ and a modern classic of ‘My Town’ it was a breathless and pulsating set with no time for messing about or end of tour dismantling equipment or goofing around it was crowd-pleasing singles ’68 Guns’, ‘Spirit of 76’, ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Blaze Of Glory’ before dropping back into ‘Poppyfield’ and the main set was brought to a sweaty close.

There was still time for a deserved encore of ‘Breathe’ and for the first time, Peters spoke offering up the song ‘Psalms’ for the people of Ukraine and an end to the Russian invasion which was heartfelt and touching. There was still time for one more track to wrap up the tour and this evening’s epic performance as new song ‘Frontline Warriors’ saw the curtain brought down on this leg of their 40th-anniversary tour but there is more to come for the good people of the UK when they see the return of the Gathering 2023 when there will be another addition to the Alarm catalogue oh and the much rearranged St Davids Hall show still to come.

What a Brucie bonus of an evening out with The Alarm, when can we do it again?

Author: Dom Daley

It’s been a long time coming but it’s good to be back. Now, where have I heard that line before? Many moons ago the good people at The Alarm HQ had a plan to celebrate 40 years of The Alarm and Mike Peters by having a couple of shows on consecutive nights in Rhyl Town Hall the birthplace of The Gathering (a yearly weekend of all things Mike Peters & the Alarm for the past twenty-Five years) sadly due to Covid and the past few years of uncertainty the celebrations were put on hold with the Rhyl shows and one at St David’s Hall Cardiff getting shelved until further notice.

Initially, these three shows which sold out in a matter of minutes were put off due to the Global Pandemic. They were rearranged but again the Cardiff celebration was put off into the distant future of 2023 but thankfully the Rhyl weekender was upon us. The Gathering has seen several venue changes over the years and after the first two were in Rhyl it grew to something altogether bigger and was decamped further up the A55 to the seaside resort of Llandudno and the spacious Venue Cymru. After a few years of being in the prisoner of war camp that is the hell hole known as Pontins Prestatyn it made a welcome return to Llandudno before returning to its spiritual roots of Rhyl Town Hall and the compact surroundings of this forgotten seaside town and Peters hometown, a stone throw from where he was brought up. We took our seats as the doors opened and the stage set on the floor of the hall rather than the traditional raised stage it was deemed more intimate for the lucky few hundred who were gathered for what promised to be a mammoth run through forty years of music from Peters. No drums, Bass, electric guitar or piano just one man a few mics and a lifetime of music. Friday night and it’s the present running backwards to 2010 and Peters looks like a man who means business and it was headlong into the music with ‘Two Rivers’ from his latest studio album ‘Sigma’. There was to be a further twenty one songs dispatched from Peters before a welcome interval and an end to the first act it was a hectic flurry of songs from the excellent ‘Heroine’ to ‘Direct Action’ via ‘Coming Backwards’ and ‘Peace Now’ there wasn’t time for any introductions or stories just on with the show with a really impressive run through some deep cuts from his most recent decade.

It was Steven Tyler who once said “Let The music do the talking” and Mike Peters was certainly on top of his memo to play as many tunes as humanly possible. I’ve seen Mike Peters play live well over a hundred times and it’s often the deep cuts that excite me the most. Sure I love ’68 Guns’ and ‘Strength’ and ‘Spirit Of 76’ and ‘New South Wales’ but I love hearing my favourite artists create new music as well and keep pushing themselves especially when I’m on board the journey and tonight is proving to be some journey.

For me the 2000’s was a prolific time for Peters when he wrote some of his finest work be it The Poppyfield collective or the 2008 Counter Attack collective. The band he was working with were pushing him to be the best writer he possibly could be and it was paying dividends and us the fans were reaping the rewards. ‘Superchannel’ whilst being such a force electrically is still a powerhouse acoustically as tonight’s audience buys into the set. ‘My Town’, ‘Edward Henry Street’ and ‘Mercenery Skank’ are given some serious attention and the floor is a shaking.

With the twenty two song second half reaching a climax with the excellent single ‘Close’ followed by the controversial ruse of ’45 RPM’ it was the end of the first night and a really excellent night’s entertainment. To hold an audience for three and a half hours on a Friday night is some achievement but tonight Mike Peters did it with consummate ease and it seemed everyone was now well up for the Saturday night and a delve further into the catalogue.

I must admit I tend to opt out of the Saturdays daytime extravaganza but if you want to immerse yourself in all things Mike Peters they opened up the Hall for a film ’50 Days In Lockdown’ and Peters had time to pose for photos and sign records before a Q&A with the man took place. The team at the MPO do give fans access that many other bands wouldn’t dream of and after all is said and done, if you’ve travelled from afar or just down the road then it’s a pretty impressive experience.

Saturday night was upon us and the fresh breeze outside was forgotten come eight PM as Peters took to the stage for 1999 to 1992 and it was the same format as the previous night where there was no interaction between songs just on with the business of the music and ‘Flesh And Blood’s ‘House Of Commons’ brought memories of being in the studio at BBC in Cardiff whilst that particular album was being made and memories certainly did come flooding back. It was now the turn of ‘Rise’ ‘Feel Free’ and the time when Peters emerged from the fall out of the Alarm split and taking the poets on an exciting journey as ‘Back Into The System’, ‘Feel Free”, ‘My Calling’ and ‘Gone Elvis’ were played. As Peters played ‘Train A Comin’ you could have heard a pin drop as the entire audience was silent with respect for the music and the journey we were on it was awe inspiring and a real moment even after all these years of watching this man play many of these songs all over the country and beyond.

As we headed into the home straight and the beautiful nineteen eighties and when many of us began our love for these works and when Mike Peters entered most of our lives and record collections it is probably many of these songs we did a lot of first to and why they are held with such high regard in our lives and soundtrack so much of who and what we’ve become. It was a privilige to be part of such a great weekend. ‘Moments In Time’ from ‘Raw’ began a whirlwind blast through the original line ups repetoir as ‘Rocking In The Free World’ took my mind back to Brixton and the tanned fringed coat there was even an out of time run through ‘Merry Xmas War Is Over’ which brought a broad grin across Peters face ‘Rivers To Cross’ was a welcome old friend as was ‘Day The Raven Left The Tower’ and the first time I heard ‘Majority’ from the Marquee club came racing back to me, so many venues, so many memories. Inside the young man I once was – was smiling that I still have the opportunity to hear these songs live and have had the pleasure of doing so on so many occasions. The fact that tonight’s performance was four hours long sounds epic because it was epic. It flew by, I honestly thought that I’d have to go into training to get through it but as the songs were unfolding I didn’t want it to end and could do it all over again on any given weekend.

The encores went right back, predominantly featuring the ‘Declaration’ period songs with ’68 Guns’, ‘Where Were You Hiding’ sung with as much verve and energy as the day they were written it seemed. Then the second encore hit us with ‘The Stand’ and ‘Marching On’ hit with the realisation that we were reaching the end of an incredible evening of music. It only left ‘Up For Murder’ before finally bowing out with a raucous ‘The Stand’. Peters took the ovation he richly deserved and a couple of hundred people filed out into the cold North Wales night with yet more memories of a Gathering that was a while in the waiting but oh so well worth it when it arrived. Bring on 2023 and back to Llandudno for another Gathering and that much overdue performance in St David Hall Cardiff. Going out in a blaze of glory our hands were held up high! Brilliant life affirming rock and roll, I love it!

Author: Dom Daley

MPO HQ Tickets

Dead Men Walking is the long-time side project of Theatre Of Hate & Spear Of Destiny founder Kirk Brandon; an evolving collective of friends from the punk scene that over the years has seen its numbers swelled by the likes of Glen Matlock, Slim Jim Phantom, Mike Peters, Capt. Sensible, through to Pete Wylie, and Billy Duffy; the current and seemingly stable line up consists of Brandon, Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers and both Segs and Dave Ruffy from Ruts DC.


From 2001’s debut album, A few live recordings have been released, whilst ‘Graveyard Smashes Volume 1’ was the first studio recording, this was followed up in 2015 with ‘Easy Piracy’ coming out as the Jacktars minus Brandon – both releases being something of a rare find. ‘Freedom – It Ain’t On The Rise’ is Brandon at the wheel and Peters being dropped off a few stops back.

On this new release, we get thirteen tracks which include four new Brandon and Segs compositions specifically written for Dead Men Walking during the recent lockdown. With lockdown seeing bands have to take a new approach to recording and members having to phone in their parts or each individual recording their parts at Pat Collier’s Perry Vale Studio in South London and Jake Burns recording his contributions at his home studio in Chicago. The album was then mixed in Brixton by Greg ‘Wizard’ Fleming. This being the new way I guess.

Most people will be familiar with Ruts DC doing the acoustic thing after their Rebellion sets are some of the highlights of the festival of the entire weekend, so that transition from loud electric to a more subtle acoustic band not being such a stretch.

Both the mournful ‘Man Down’ and ‘Blame’ are new tracks, the former, a slower, brooding song but with the beating heart of their punk attitude as Brandon tells the guys story of being the Man Down. ‘Blame’ has Segs providing the vocal on this more bluesy number. The interaction of both guitar players Burns and Brandon is excellent throughout playing for the song and not interacting for the sake of it.

Brandon heads back to 1988’s ‘The Price You Pay’ album to revisit The Price. Arguably one of Brandon’s best songs and to have it interpreted by such talented musicians all looking from different angles pay dividends with Brandon’s howls never sounding so good.

‘Golden Boy’ was the Ruts DC ode to Malcolm Owen and was released on the bands ‘Music Must Destroy’ album, apparently a favourite of Kirk Brandon who insisted that it be included here; somehow this partnership has added extra emotion and a haunting string arrangement that compliments the vocals that sound like they could be a beat away from heartbreak the classical guitar break only adds to the heartbreak and drama making it such a monumental track. A beautiful highlight for sure.

‘Slave’ taken from Theatre Of Hate’s 2016 ‘Kinshi’ album, Is stripped back with an acoustic lick and minimal shaker and percussion before the backing vocals usher in a thicker arrangement. The whole album is given a kiss-off with each artist offering up a classic from their respected catalogues. The Ruts ‘Staring At The Rude Boys’ was almost a skiffle take but captivating and I found myself nodding in appreciation. Spear Of Destiny’s ‘Never Take Me Alive’ always one of the highlights at the countless DMW shows I’ve seen over the years. SLF’s ‘Wasted Life’ being something of a country-tinged vibe with the lyrics being poignant and the hushed tones of Burns vocal being spot on. Expect the unexpected being my advice on these classics. It’s like they’ve been given a lick of paint from the original owners but using different shades and tones. Of course you recognise them but shifting the focus a little is interesting. Not meant to upstage the originals (how could they) but they stand as a talking point and stand alone as worthy soundwaves.

A real melting pot of old and new borrowed and blue this Dead Men Walking is exceptional labour of love from four supremely talented artists. I love these collaborations and ‘Freedom It Ain’t On The Rise’ is a wonderful collection of songs that are arranged really well with thought , love and respect and that shines through.

Not sure if we have Covid and lockdowns to thank for this seeing the light of day but I’m glad these guys took the time and patience to work it out. Don’t be daft and pass this by you won’t regret investigating this release, not for a minute. It’s like a ray of sunshine streaming through a crisp morning haze.

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Author: Dom Daley

Welsh Rocker Benji Webb joins forces with Mike Peter Alarm for a romp through the Massive Attack number ‘Safe From Harm’ from the ‘War’ album reviewed on RPM Here

 

Also hot off the press is this banger from Australians Blowers  with the anthemic ‘Waste Of A Man’ which got the thumbs up on RPM Onlne when we reviewed it Here

Finally staying down under we have the new video from the excellent Civic.  Taken from their awesome new album – ‘Tell The Papers’ is the second single from ‘Future Forecast’ available NOW Here

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.

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Pre-order your limited edition and individually hand-painted, signed by Mike Peters’ Exclusively at http://thealarm.com

Author: Dom Daley

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.

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Author: Dom Daley

 

 

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.
Author: Dom Daley

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.

Author: Nev Brooks

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