Strength An Oral History [Part 1]

The Alarm Strength : An Oral History [Part One – The Absolute Chant 1984]

The process that led to the creation of The Alarm’s second album ‘Strength’ started as the band was coming off a very successful world tour for the ‘Declaration’ album, juxtaposed with the somewhat disappointing showing for the band’s third single from ‘Declaration’ – ‘The Deceiver’.   ‘The Deceiver’, while being a fan favorite, fell agonizingly short of reaching the hallowed UK Top 40.  It left the band in a quandary: their live shows were becoming ever-more well attended with album sales booming all around the world, but in the UK, record sales for their singles were going in the other direction.

Within the band, thoughts were circling that the recording of ‘Declaration’ with producer Alan Shacklock had not resulted in the best possible album, and although the band’s subsequent record sales compared with their huge tours and sold-out shows appeared healthy, nagging doubts crept into the thoughts of some members of the band.

“Anyone who knows me will be aware that I didn’t like the Declaration production at all. What should have been a marvellous climax of a recording in the hallowed Studio 2, Abbey Road, left me cold. I believed The Alarm had much more to offer. Anyone who witnessed the band performing live would wholeheartedly agree. After hearing ’68 Guns’, I handed my notice in but Mike persuaded me to stay. I’m sometimes a bit of a hot head – I wear my heart on my sleeve, but it’s purely because I cared so much about the music.” Eddie Macdonald

The Alarm were at a crossroads in their career.  The songs on Declaration were written to try to keep the “fires” of their punk rock salvation burning and inspire people to take their lives into their own hands.  Unfortunately much of that effort was misconstrued and misinterpreted by the music press at the time.

In this audio clip from Nigel Twist and Dave Sharp discuss the demands certain rock journalists put on the Alarm to define their songs.

Audio Clip – Nigel Twist and Dave Sharp in an “Innerview” with Jim Ladd, 1986

In the later days of the Sound & The Fury / Declaration Tour of 1984, The Alarm were performing a new song in concert  called ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’. It had the hall marks of another classic Alarm song – along the lines of ‘The Stand’.  The band decided to cut the track for a brand new single release. Although The Alarm were ready for a change of producer, their A&R man at record label IRS – Steve Tannett sent them back into the studio with the tried and tested ‘Declaration’ producer – Alan Shacklock.

August 11th 1984 – The Chant Recording Session Good Earth Studios, London

“After the successful Declaration tour came to an end, we were ready to go back and cut a new track – we performed the track ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’ on the MTV show The Cutting Edge, which we played acoustically in a skiffle style in an Amtrak train station somewhere in California (Union Station, Los Angeles – Editor). By the time we retreated to Good Earth studios in Dean Street in London’s Soho, we were again in the hands of Alan Shacklock.” Eddie Macdonald

As performed on ‘The Cutting Edge’,  ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’ sounded like ‘The Stand Part II’. However, when the band went into the studio to record the track, something else happened entirely.

“I personally wasn’t happy with the process. I felt that he (Shacklock) was over-controlling as a producer and too reliant on digital manipulation. He had more power than was healthy in what had been a successful democratic unit until then.” Eddie MacDonald

 

“We weren’t quite sure whether we should continue recording with Alan or not, so we actually went in to record a couple of singles. One of them was called ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’. It started off as a song written during the American dates that we’d been playing when we were making the video for ‘The Stand’ at A&M studios on La Brea Ave, Hollywood. The studio was actually on a film lot that was once owned by Charlie Chaplin. Behind the studio, there was this wall with a mural on it, and all these images of Los Angeles and the culture, and it said, ‘The Chant Has Begun’. I thought, “That’s a great idea for a song”. I started writing the song, Dave liked it, joined in and it sort of became a song written by myself, Eddie & Dave.” – Mike Peters

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-Photo ‘The Chant Has Begun’ mural painted on the walls of A&M studios as seen by Mike Peters in 1983.

 

 

“True to form, when we got to the studio, out came the computers and Fairlight (sampling computer) ­– which I felt was a desperate attempt to appeal to a commercial audience and deliver what the general public wanted to hear.” Eddie Macdonald

 

‘We were always willing to experiment with new technology and The Fairlight was cutting-edge at the time. Now you could probably pick one up for ten bob.’ Nigel Twist

 

“We actually recorded it in a weird way. Computers and technology had started to come into music. At the time, everybody was doing it, there was the Frankie Goes To Hollywood records, and they were sounding good. All these new ideas and new thinking about how to make records. We went in to record ‘The Chant’ as a “single” and Alan Shacklock wanted to implement this new way of recording. This meant bringing this massive thing into the studio called a Fairlight, it was just huge and they had to have this guy to work it. You’d record your drums into it, and then move them all around. Sort of like a massive version of ProTools which we have in computers these days. The only “live” instrument was Dave’s guitar, which was treated by routing it through a spinning organ Lesley cabinet. Alan dreamt up some fairly complex backing vocal parts which we were having difficulty with, so he got a professional backing singer in to compliment my voice. I’m convinced to this day that the backing voice is louder than mine in the choruses…” – Mike Peters

 

Yes  Mike, the backing vocals are louder than yours on the choruses” – Every Alarm Fan Every where

 

…All in all, it was a bit of a shambles. Whilst the track has certain merits, it didn’t really sound like The Alarm and was very confusing for our fans.” – Mike Peters

The results of of the experimentation with Alan Shacklock led to the shockingly divergent sound of ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’. Instead of moving The Alarm closer to their “live” sound, it pushed them ever further away from matching their energetic live performances with song recording to match.

“The Chant was a tune cooked up by the band in an attempt to get back to ‘The Stand’ style. I still believe it was a unique sound but it was the end of ‘The Stand’ era. The Alarm’s musical style changed after that.” Eddie MacDonald

In the meantime, The Alarm travelled to the USA to for a headline show at the Pier in New York on September 14th 1984 stopping off for a couple of radio interview in New York and Boston (WBCN) before the event.

Sep 14th 1984 The Alarm Pier 84 in New York, NY

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**** See photo gallery exclusive of the Pier 84 Show at Facebook.com/theofficialalarm

At this huge 4,000 capacity open air headlining show at Pier 84 on the banks of the Hudson River in New York where The Alarm had played their first ever NYC show (opening for U2 on the War Tour), the band began their set with a brand new song entitled ‘We Are Majority’.

“When you’re in a band you’re always pointing the finger at someone, the government or whoever. But sometimes we’re just as much to blame because we give people an incentive and sometimes we haven’t got the right to give them that incentive. Sometimes we’re a bit blind to what’s going on because we are only human. We get so caught up in asking people to be like this or like that but sometimes people just want music and a good time. So I wrote a song, ‘Majority’, that pointed the finger at us, that makes us think about what we are and the position we’re in. ” Mike Peters (December 1984 : Zig Zag : Mick Sinclair)

Mega-Producer Jimmy Iovine  was in attendance at the show to consider producing The Alarm’s second album.   Based on the strength of what he saw that night, he was very interested in going forward.   Working with a producer of the calibre of Iovine was the next step in The Alarm’s path to reaching the top of the charts.

October 6th 1984 The Alarm Nightmoves, Glasgow (Opening act Big Audio Dynamite)

“I got a phone call from Ian Flooks who was the main agent at Wasted Talent. He asked if The Alarm would take an opening act of his choosing for the dates in Glasgow and Sheffield. “No problem”, I said not knowing who the band was going to be. I was on the stage sound checking with The Alarm, when in walked Mick Jones from The Clash along with Don Letts. I was absolutely stunned. I couldn’t believe that Big Audio Dynamite was Mick Jones’ new band, and that they were going to make their first ever ‘live’ appearance opening for The Alarm. I had met Mick Jones a few times at the pub on Alexander Street (next door to Wasted Talent at number 28), and even went back to his house one night (with Mike Scott from The Waterboys). Mick was playing us this new music of his with audio samples from films and he had banks of video tape recorders going. It was pretty surreal and as it turned out, way ahead of it’s time. Mick Jones was very down to earth as was Don Letts, and I watched them play from the side of the stage and was so impressed. All the video technology was now totally integrated into the sound of a great rock band. They played songs which I would later recognise on the first BAD album” – Mike Peters

October 7th 1984 The Alarm The Leadmill, Sheffield (Opening act Big Audio Dynamite)
October 8th 1984 The Alarm Heaven Ultradisco in London
October 19th 1984 The Alarm Majestic Theatre, Caernarfon, Wales

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THE HOMECOMING – Tony Fletcher reports from the making of The Alarm’s new video. Peter Anderson brings his camera.

The Majestic Cinema in Caernarfon could quite easily be the Roxy in Grantham. Anyone who saw the Comic Strip’s wonderful ‘Bad News Tour’ some eighteen months ago, wherein a farcical heavy metal band travel 200 miles for a gig that on-one turns up to, will appreciate my thoughts as I stood in the discussed cinema on the tip of the North Wales coast on a harsh Friday morning. A few desolate tables, a glittering array of lights that seem designed more for vaudeville than rock’n’roll, a venue in the middle of nowhere, and I couldn’t help asking myself — will anyone turn up?

Twelve hours later, those thoughts seemed ridiculous, as The Alarm stood proud on the stage, playing to three hundred crazed Welsh school kids and a few dozen loral Alarm fans who had made the trip from the furthest corners of the country for this ‘secret’ gig. Maybe ‘majestic’ would be stretching the point, but the two days hard labour put in to make the video for ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’ was now complete, an all-round success.

But back to the beginning. The three days I spent with The Alarm during the making of this promo were a fascinating insight into the workings and worries of a group as they release a new record at a vital stage of their career. From the drive up from London on a Wednesday evening, through to their interview on Radio 1’s ‘Saturday Live’ 72 hours later, it was a chance to share in the pressures of a band as they work their arms off while glancing for any early signs of a hit record.

The journey began with a gruelling three hour drive from London to The Alarm’s home-town of Rhyl; manager Ian Wilson took the wheel with myself and Eddie Macdonald as passengers, and the trip was spent discussing all aspects of The Alarm, from their past glories to damaging mistakes. It soon became obvious that the reason for choosing Wales as location for the new video was because of The Alarm’s current desire to firmly declare their roots, which can also be witnessed via the single’s b-side — an old Welsh folk song — and the sleeve, decked out in the colours on the Welsh flag.

Arriving at Mike Peters’ parents house in Prestatyn, just outside Rhyl, around midnight, it was straight to bed in preparation for the early start ahead. Rising before dawn, we set off on a ninety-minute journey into the depths of the Welsh countryside. Our times was amused listening to Radio 1 — Mike Read had announced at 7.00 am that he would be playing The Alarm’s new single, but as he wound up with The Everly Brothers some two hours laters, it was obvious this was not to be. The disappointment among the group was obvious, but with a long day ahead working on the video, it wasn’t time to ponder as to why they hadn’t been hearing themselves boom down the nation’s airwaves this morning.

Dorothea Quarry is a disused slate mine near Pen-y-groes in North Wales, which closed forty years ago and is now a bleak painting of decay. Earlier this century, men had cut slate out of the quarry by hand, pulling it up the steep hills and stockpiling it in enormous quantities around the neighboring countryside. When some clever spark discovered that tiles were a more economical substitute for roofing houses, the need for slate vanished and so this quarry remains a tribute to the sweat, blood and tears of the men who worked on it. Two enormous lakes now fill the cavernous pits that were once full of slate, and to walk around one of these — past desolate buildings covered in modern graffiti — is a half-hour trip. The whole scenarios was a perfect setting for the lyrics to ‘The Chant,’ and the morning was spent filming the group walking around the landscape. Dave Sharp had turned up looking as heroic as ever, while Twist was still glowing from the coverage of his wedding (to his long-standing American girlfriend) in the local newspaper, where he was described as a ‘heartthrob.’

The afternoon saw the arrival of the Caernarfon Male Voice Choir, brought in as a further touch of patriotism, but miming to the ‘Weialala leia’ chant what was in fact lifted from a T.S. Eliot poem describing the sound of The Thames. I watched the choir, with an average age of around forty-five, getting carried away with the fact they were appearing in a pop promo, until it was explained they were in fact to act as they would in one of their own performances. Eddie, spotting a chance for possible future intro tape, asked the choir if they’d ever made a record, only to be lambasted with a history of recordings, tours and TV appearances that gives The Alarms a fair bit of catching up to do yet. The afternoon passed away successfully but slowly — the weather had now grown particularly fowl and the whole team (some twenty-five of us) frequently had to dash for cover in the video company’s bus, stuck on a heap of slate! One of the cameramen, in an off-guard moment, was in fact struck on the hand by lightning, which, though not damaging, was a nasty reminder of the cruel countryside we were in.

In between the various dramas, all the choir shots were completed, a strenuous photo session was undertaken, and a fire was built in a gutted building by the mine for an extra scene. By the end of the day, everyone was tired and not just a little bit soaked, but any despondency turned to joy when ‘The Chant Has Just Begun’ received its first national airplay Radio 1’s Five Forty-Fives. Played alongside Level 42’s ‘The Chant Has Begun’ there was a certain amount of incredulousness that two groups could release a single with virtually the same title on the same day (and, as it turns out, inspired by the same mural in Los Angeles), but the delight in The Alarm camp was obvious at hearing the new single as it played to millions.

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As it was nine o’clock before we made it back to Rhyl, and with an even more exhausting day ahead of us, an early night was required by all. However, with the conversation in the Peters’ house firmly turned to football, an interesting anecdote was passed on by Mike’s mum. Apparently, when small, Mike had one profession in his mind — football. When his mum bought her sons an acoustic guitar and paid for lessons, only Mike’s brother could ever be found willingly playing it, while Mike himself would be avoiding lessons, out playing soccer. That he would end up making money from playing in a group has never ceased to amaze Mrs. Peters!

And so we return to the Majestic Cinema, near Caernarfon’s famous castle and home for a video shoot, a gig and a TV programme all in the same day. Channel 4 in Wales had lined up a few gigs for a series of rock programmes to be shown in the New Year (Aswad and The Chieftains had played the previous two nights), and The Alarm had seized on this as an ideal part of their video. But before they could play the gig in the evening, the first part of the day was spent miming the song for the various close-up shots that you will see in the completed video. By the end of the day, everyone was well and truly knackered, although the presence of Gaz and Red-Eye, the group’s long-standing roadies, at the lunch table, kept the atmosphere at a high. These two have been with The Alarm since day one, willing more now than ever to work ridiculously gruelling hours for the band they both believe in. Recently supplemented by Simon Baines, who couldn’t make this trip, they form a vital part of The Alarm’s happy family, a unit completed by Ian Wilson and his wife Sara-Jane.

Following an afternoon’s rest, during which the band missed ‘The Chant’ getting the thumbs-up on Radio 1’s Roundtable, the gig was ready to roll. As mentioned at the start of the article, the audience was mainly comprised of schoolkids, though adequately supplemented by a few more loyal Alarm wayfarers. Everyone was keen to have a great time, though this initially meant allowing the band to mime to the single three times to get the crowd shots in. The gig then started in earnest, and despite Mike’s streaming cold, an unusual atmosphere and a few loose notes here and there, it all ran pretty much according to plan.

Of the new songs currently making an appearance in The Alarm’s set, by far and away the best is ‘Absolute Reality,’ a rip-roaring number being stored away for the next single — and one which I imagine will comfortably find its way into the Top 10 in the New Year. ‘One Step Closer to Home,’ featuring the sweat-drenched Dave Sharp on vocals, is the other new number firmly finding its feet, while the bulk of the set was a collection of everyone’s favourites — ‘68 Guns,’ ‘Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke,’ ‘Blaze of Glory,’ ‘Marching On,’ and ‘The Deceiver’ — and three more (live) versions of ‘The Chant’ for good measure. The gig wasn’t a classic by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, but over three hundred people went home happy, in particular the video company.

And here the story should end, with something about the visit to Radio 1’s ‘Saturday Live’ in London for an interview the following afternoon, seeing the single start well on it’s way to a successful start. But the evening was to have a delightful and unexpected finale in the hotel bar next door, where the loyal fans initially joined the group for a quiet drink. Following an appearance by a Welsh card sharp who had everyone gasping with amazement, an acoustic guitar was thrust into Mike’s hand and an uproarious sing-song took place. It was a crying shame that Twist and Dave had already headed back to Rhyl, as the next few hours were to find a place in The Alarm legend according to Mike and Eddie, who lead through spirited renditions of Alarm numbers such as ‘Up For Murder,’ ‘Marching On,’ ‘The Deceiver’ and ‘The Stand.’

As the drink and the delight at finishing the video took it’s toll, #1 Alarm fanatic Barney Rubble entertained us with his ‘Alarm Rap,’ Gaz and Red-Eye led renditions of the Welsh national anthem and ‘The Bells of Rhymney,’ and Mike meanwhile, pumped out the chords to all the songs we shouted for, be they ‘My Generation,’ ‘White Riot,’ ‘In The City,’ ‘Please Please Me’ or anything else we were too far gone to remember! It was the perfect ending for the two days slog, and will, I’m sure, not seem apparent to anyone who watched the ordered video for ‘The Chant,’ filmed just hours before. But for anyone who doubts my word, let me warn them — Eddie recorded the whole evening. I hope he never plays it publicly! – Tony Fletcher The Chant 84 Alarm Fanzine

October 20th 1984 The Alarm BBC Radio 1 “Saturday Live”
October 22nd 1984 The Chant Has Just Begun was released as  a single while the band are at Good Earth Studios, London recording a version of another new song ‘Absolute Reality’ with producer Alan Shacklock and engineer Rafe McKenna.

(The Chant Has Just Begun, single edit)

“We have set out to make a tough record (The Chant Has Just Begun), that people can dance to, and that continues to deal with the important issues facing people today” Mike Peters (Sounds)

(The Chant Has Just Begun, full version)

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The Chant Has Just Begun single sleeve

 

“I had originally conceived ‘The Chant’ as a follow-up to ‘The Stand’. The “Weialala” wording is actually a lift from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland”.  – Mike Peters

The video clip for ‘The Chant’ was filmed in Wales, mirroring the feeling evoked on the single cover that featured photographs from the infamous Jarrow March of 1936.

“We’d done all the other videos in England or the USA, and so we thought we’d have a bit of our own country in this one. Loads of people have asked us if Wales has influenced us and in America they all say ‘oh, you’re English’ and you think ‘hang on, I’m Welsh!’. So we thought we’d go back and get some of the national things of Wales in the video. There’s a lot of things you grew up with that you just don’t notice. We had the Caenarvon Male Voice Choir in it and used a slate quarry (Dorothea) in Nantlle which is up in the mountains. It closed down in the 1920s and is a massive, fantastic place. A whole village is buried under the slates, you can see the tops of cottages sticking out. We did a gig in Caenarvon and filmed it, then tied all the bits together. I was wearing a shirt that was painted like the Welsh flag'” Mike Peters (Interview with Mick Sinclair, Feb. 85′ Beat Box)

The sound of the record was a drastic change from anything The Alarm had released prior. Big dance rhythms, muted guitars, looped sections,  processed instruments and to further complicate matters – fate.

“On the day of release, and to further confuse matters, Level 42 came out with a song with the exact same title, (they had obviously seen the same graffiti at A&M Studios as I had). In the confusion, the British radio stations decided to play their song and not ours – they charted, we didn’t.’ Mike Peters

‘“The Chant” was a failed attempt to define and capture the true sound of The Alarm. Something which eluded us for most, if not all, of our recorded history. Certainly, at the time of all our releases, a lot of fans of the band felt that our records didn’t come close to the sound/energy levels of our live concerts.’ – Mike Peters

October 25th 1984 The Alarm Espace Ballard in Paris with U2
October 27th 1984 The Alarm Vorst Nationaal in Brussels with U2

The volume for this concert was so loud that it shakes nearby houses and the Brussels Seismological Institute registers it as an earthquake. Bono subsequently blamed Adam Clayton’s bass playing. The Alarm claimed the quake happened when they were playing ‘Majority’ along with the thousands of travelling British fans who started jumping up and down to the 4/4 beat.

October 28th 1984 The Alarm Vorst Nationaal in Brussels with U2
October 28th 1984 The Chant Has Just Begun fails to reach the top-40, hitting 48 before dropping off.

As a band, we were always up to experiment, and we didn’t really understand what this meant. We’d written ‘The Chant’ as like a folky version of ‘The Stand’. We thought it was going to sound like The Stand, and it came out sounding like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, basically! Needless to say, it wasn’t a hit, it kind of confused everybody, and us as well. “ Mike Peters 1984
“The Chant was chosen as a single because it was going down fantastic live whenever we played it. Unfortunately, we went in the wrong direction in the studio….. I don’t think it did Alan Shacklock any favours with IRS in terms of producing the second album and drove them to try and secure Jimmy Iovine. It certainly didn’t sound like The Alarm for sure and was recorded using computer technology pioneered by Trevor Horn. I think we got caught up in trying to be a singles band with ‘The Chant’ and once we had got that out of our system it was back to being an album band from then on.” Mike Peters (2015 Interview)
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The song contained the lyrics “gunpowder’s been lit in the house” because Mike Peters thought someone would try to blow up the House Of Commons. It was bad timing, someone tried to do just that, and the song got restricted air play, reaching only #48 on the UK single charts. The 7″ of “The Chant…” contained the b-side, “Bells Of Rhymney,” a poem by Welsh Poet Idres Davies, that the Byrds had once recorded as well. The 12″ single had a re-m ix of “The Chant,” that got rid of the “gun powder” verse of the song,  plus versions of “Bells Of Rhymney,” and the full-version of “The Stand.” A European variation of the 12″ single added a cover version of Woodie Guthrie’s “Bound For Glory” to the songs on the UK 12.” The Japanese 12″ contained the same 3 songs as the UK 12,” but added “Second Generation” and “Thoughts Of A Young Man.” To coincide with this release, The Alarm planned to finished off 1984 with their first tour of to Japan. -Steve Fulton, Goldmine, 1995

 

October 30th 1984 The Alarm Sportpaleis Ahoy in Rotterdam with U2

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October 31st 1984 The Alarm Sportpaleis Ahoy in Rotterdam with U2

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November 4th 1984 The Alarm Caley Palace, Edinburgh
November 5th 1984 The Alarm Town Hall in Middlesborough
November 6th 1984 The Alarm The University in Liverpool
November 7th 1984 The Alarm Rock City, Nottingham
November 9th 1984 The Alarm “The Tube”, Channel 4 TV, UK

November 9th 1984 The Alarm UEA, Norwich
November 10th 1984 The Alarm Friar’s in Aylesbury

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– Mick Wall Kerrang 1984

 

 

November 11th 1984 The Alarm Mr Keisa’s, Leicester
November 12th 1984 The Alarm Civic Hall in Guildford

November 29-30th 1984 E-Zee Hire studios,London.

After the extraordinary mis-fire that was “The Chant Has Just Begun”, The Alarm were anxious to get in the studio to record demos.  They needed to shake off the disappointment of their latest release, and get some ideas on tape to share with Jimmy Iovine.

Nigel Luby, The Alarm’s sound engineer recorded 9 demos with the band on this day: Knife Edge, Absolute Reality, Sons Of Divorce, One Step Closer To Home, Memorial Day, Steeltown, We Are Majority, Black Side Of Fortune, The Day The Ravens Left The Tower.

“We actually spent two days recording what would be most of the songs that went on the Strength album. We spent  two days recording them in North London at Ezeehire recording studios, which is where we used to rehearse as well. We  cut about nine tracks that were demos & one of them was Absolute Reality. We always sort of thought that Absolute Reality was the beginning of Strength” – Mike Peters (Alarm 2000 Day Transcription)

“We all loved ‘Black Side Of Fortune’ but it’s quite a high song to sing and Dave couldn’t quite pull that range out of himself consistently and so another great track fell by the way side.” Mike Peters (2015 Interview)

December 1984 – The group flew to New York for album pre-production rehearsals with Jimmy Iovine followed by a first trip to Japan.

“We sent some tracks to Jimmy Iovine, who we hoped would produce the Strength album. He responded positively to our A&R man Steve Tannett and Manager Ian Wilson, and agreed  to work with us. We went to New York City and played him all our new songs and did about two or three days trying out various ideas and arrangements. We all got on great and it was agreed that we’d come back to the UK and start work on the first of January.” Mike Peters (Alarm 2000 Day transcription)

December 14th 1984 Mido Hall in Osaka, Japan

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-Mike Peters

December 15th 1984  Shiboya Public Hall in Tokyo, Japan

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Mike Peters chatting with Liverpool FC striker Ian Rush (who was from Flint, North Wales and had attended some of the Seventeen shows at the Raven Pub, Flint as a youngster in 1978/79) before the Liverpool v Independiente ‘Intercontinental Cup 1984’ soccer match in Tokyo 15th December 1984. This was the first sporting occasion between the two countries since the Falklands War so the match was being played in a neutral country – Japan. Independiente won 1-0).

December 23rd 1984 Hammersmith Palais, London

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Mike Peters, Eddie Macdonald and Dave Sharp on stage at Hammersmith Palais 23.12.84

“The Alarm have reached a reflective stage and Mike Peters, while condemning r’n’r tunnel vision’ speaks with the charge of optimism he/they have scarcely ever been short of. Currently they’re poised between their different single ‘The Chant’ (“a massive monster drum sound with loads of guitars slammed over the top”), and an LP for ease next year which promises to deliver everything that their first, ‘Declaration’, didn’t.” – Mick Sinclair, Zig Zag, December 1984

1984 ended with The Alarm on high note. They were all set to record their 2nd (as yet untitled), album with a dynamite, world famous producer in the new year.  They were fast becoming a legendary live band, with landmark shows at the Pier in New York, Hammersmith Palais, and Japan to prove it. They had a batch of new songs, a fresh musical viewpoint, and the drive to move everything to the next level.  If everything fell into place, they would be unstoppable.

Come back tomorrow for part two of Strength – An Oral History, as The Alarm embark on the Absolute Tour and an encounter with Joe Strummer and The Clash at Leeds University.

Strength – An Oral History. Created by Steve Fulton and Mike Peters. ©2015 www.thealarm.com

Memories come flooding back…… If you have attended any of the shows or incidents mentioned in Strength – An Oral History and have recollections and photos of your own then please share them with us at www.facebook.com/theofficialalarm

Only 13 days to go until Mike Peters and The Alarm appear at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff with The Welsh Pops Symphony Orchestra and the Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir. Get your tickets here.