Who would have thought it? Briefly famous blow-dried passion punks from the 1980’s commemorated in a massive nine CD box set! What’s more, front man Mike Peters has promised to record a personally dedicated acoustic version of each purchasers fave Alarm track to be burned
on to a special CD for everyone buying this mail order-only monument to the
original Cool Cymru rockers.
Since the demise of the band’s original label in the early 90s, none of this
material has been available. Fear not, Peters has now licensed the lot from
EMI and remastered the band’s entire catalogue to meet the pentup demand. The Alarm (1983), Declaration (1985), Strength (1986), Eye of the Hurricane
(1988), the live album Electric Folklore (1988), Change (1990) and Raw (1991) are now available for the first time on CD. The set is completed by another album’s worth of demos, rare tracks and b-sides. Each disc has the interactive programming information that allows each album to be played in its original sequence and the set comes with all the original artwork, lyrics and exhaustive sleeve notes to which each band member has
contributed. Potted highlights include a 1982 demo of the bands biggest hit,
68 Guns, eight extra live tracks added to Electric Folklore, the last studio
track the band recorded (an acoustic version of Walk Forever By My Side from the Raw album) and the first CD release for 1983’s The Alarm EP.
Releasing this package may seem a strange thing to do, but sooner or later
rock revisionists are going to rewrite The Alarm’s place in history. The
British (English?) music press was at best sniffy towards them, but the band
was the first to put Welsh language rock songs before the mainstream audience and always insisted on Welsh language support bands in Wales (including Y Cyrff who became Catatonia). For anyone other than a dyed-in-the-wool devotee, listening to the set is a major undertaking. While great chunks of The Alarm’s back catalogue (particularly later albums) sound perfunctory and pedestrian to these unconverted ears, it is equally true to say that a lot of it benefits from
the kind of commitment and self-belief the Manics have gone on to turn into a
virtual art form. Raw and Change both suggest that major American acceptance was within their grasp.
Ultimately though their quest was to take coals to Newcastle, although from
punk-inspired rabble rousers to more considered, folksy-bluesy, blue collar
rock ballads, the band progressed even while swimming against the tide.
Defeat with honour. The Alarm 2000 Collection is an exemplary work with a minute attention to detail that, in an ideal world, would provide the benchmark for many other such reissue packages. Delivered to fans with a reassuring degree of love and respect, the band rightly enjoy a fiercely loyal hardcore support which will readily accept this an offering excellent value for money.
Out Monday. The Alarm 2000 Collection is �99.99 and can be ordered from http://thealarm.com
or by phoning 01745 571571.