Friday, January 16, 2009

FDF Volume 2 Issue 123: The Alarm - Eye of the Hurricane



By: March

Album - Eye of the Hurricane
Artist - The Alarm
Key Players - Nigel Twist - drums, Eddie MacDonald - bass, Dave Sharp - guitars, Mike Peters - vocals, guitar
Produced By - John Porter and the Alarm


Release Date - November 1987


What caused me to blow off the dust? - I have been a fan of the Alarm for a lot of years. I have all the cds, and the re-issues of the discs. I do find myself listening to them more often than I realized, but sort of always seem to grab the Best of Collection (Standards) and never really give the full lengths their just due. Of all their studio albums with these four members "Eye" is actually one of the cds I reach for last. I honestly would put it next to "Raw" as my least listened to (perhaps I need to listen to Raw again). Anyway..just a logical choice for the blog this week (at least in my eyes)

Overview - The Rhyl Wales based band The Alarm blended heavy acoustic rock songs in to blistering rock anthems in the early 1980's. A support band for U2 on many shows the Alarm quickly established themselves as a strong live band. The band would release few records, and the album "Strength" (the album before this reviewed selection) would continue to see the band grow capped with a massive outdoor show at UCLA that was televised by MTV. The popularity would extend with the strong single "Rain in the Summertime" but their light started to flicker some with US fans after that. They'd release two more studio records after this, but Peters announced from the stage that he was leaving the band.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A somewhat canned drum sound with ebow'd guitar notes begin "Rain in the Summertime". Twist and Sharp bring the song to the verses with a little more gusto about 30 seconds in before the voice of Mike Peters come over the top. Peters is in strong voice and the music underneath is rather subdued for the time being. The chorus has high harmonies with lines that beckon the listener to sing along. The slightly more aggressive "Newtown Jericho" follows. There are more keyboards on the intro and Twist keeps the tempo at a marching band pace. We are locked in to a 4/4 time with Peters and Sharp feeding electric and acoustic guitars to each other. Dual acoustic guitars start off "Hallowed Ground". Once again the accent is placed with some keyboards (I am pretty sure MacDonald provides these but they are not even mentioned in the liner notes of the cd). Peters has more a raspy ness to his voice on the track. With an audience cheering behind the acoustic "One Step Closer to Home" rings out. Dave Sharp takes the lead vocals on this track and gives Peters a run for his money. The lush piano that plays along with him adds a nice accent. The track is really just the voice, guitar and piano. On the chorus he gets some backing vocal help but its a very stripped down song. A terrific track that builds in urgency as it progresses. Check out the live version below. "Shelter" comes right up with acoustic guitar and an electric over it. The song is a complete 180 from the last track, we are back to a full band and in rock mode. Sharp gets more of a work on on the electric and for the first time you can hear more of MacDonald in the mix which is nice. A major moment in a live setting "Rescue Me" seems toned down (duh) in the studio. Again, behold its awesomeness in the down load section. The track just builds to perhaps the bands most "sing along" moments. Just a great track. Peters shines vocally in "Permanence in Change" and allows MacDonald and Sharp to add the harmonies for a fuller sound. Twist hits the drums at times on the track, but is kept in check for the majority of the song, another anthem by the band. We slow things down some for "Presence of Love". The song, barring some strong work from Peters is not overly interesting. Its not a bad song, but it wouldn't sell new fans to the band. A choppy intro to "Only Love Can Set Me Free" sets the Alarm sound back in place. The urgency both musically and lyrically return. Sharp and MacDonald offer a lot more as backing vocalists on the track. The album closes with "Eye of the Hurricane", which opens with Sharp just ripping across the guitar strings before the rest of the band joins in. The song is a decent enough album closer that showcases strong musicianship and the band seems to be feeding off each other quite well.

Where are they now? - Dave Sharp has released a few solo records and still tours. His current work is called "AOR- The Spirit of the Alarm". That outlet performs Alarm set lists. Mike Peters continues to lead the Alarm with other members. He has released some solo work, worked with Billy Duffy (the Cult) and has a yearly festival called "The Gathering". Eddie MacDonald and Nigel Twist were included in the short lived VH1 series "Bands Reunited" in 2005. The Alarm performed again as the four piece but haven't since that time.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - Seeing the Alarm live was always a thrill for me. My older brother introduced me to them and it was always a must see. The first time was May 6, 1986 at the Orpheum, and to this day it stands as one of the best shows I have ever been to. The next time was April 26, 1988 at the Wang Center in Boston. The band recorded the live album "Electric Folklore" at this show and my brother and I appear on the back cover in an image where Mike Peters entered the crowd. December 16, 1989 back at the Orpheum was a great show and the final time was at the Paradise on May 1, 1991. Peters has been around here and there solo and under the Alarm name but I just haven't gone out to see them. One other time I did see Mike and Dave perform a few songs solo was at an even called the "WBCN Rock and Roll Expo" at the Bayside Expo Center. I have no idea of the date but I think it was around the May of 86 range, the long ryders were the support act for the alarm and they too were at event and I recall them doing the Long Ryders track "Harriet Tubamns going to carry me Home". We were about 15 feet back dead center and the set was short..but fun.

FDF Overall Take - I was never a big fan of this record for some reason (hence the reason for grabbing it and giving it the once through vs a record I listen to more often)

Links

The band has an official site here as well as a myspace page.
Dave Sharp has an official site here, as well as a myspace page for AOR. Finally, information on "The Gathering" can be found here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The Mp3s have been removed...

The studio versions of the songs are okay and can be found on "Eye of the Hurricane" which you can buy here (it is out of print but you can find it). I decided to go with the live versions of some stand out tracks, they better capture what the band is all about.

These live tracks are from "Electric Folklore Live" they recorded this in Boston on the "Hurricane" tour. It too is out of print, but not that expensive, and its awesome. Grab a copy here.

Newtown Jericho
Shelter
Rain in the Summertime



Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.

2 Comments:

At 7:23 AM, Anonymous BBS said...

I was thinking of Electric Foklore Live just the other day.
This is the only Alarm album I don't have in my current Library, I do have it on vinyl but I have no turntable anymore.
Good review and walk down memory lane

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Ello said...

Hmmmmm, I don't know them at all, But very intrigued by your write up! You know my favorite part of your reviews are your personal comments.

 

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