Review: ARCC #2: The Alarm Live At The Hammersmith Palais

Album: ARCC #2: The Alarm Live At The Hammersmith Palais
Release Date: Dec. ’02
Where to Buy:MPO, online

This Live album captures the original The Alarm lineup at what was most likely the best “live” moment in their history. Originally a BBC Radio Show, it was recorded at The Hammersmith Palais Feb 14th, 1984 (and subsequentlybootlegged as “First Rebel Carriage” and “Live In London”). Mike Peters has painstakingly remastered recreated this show by taking the BBC source, and his personal live tapes to create one of The Alarm’s most commanding performances ever recorded. While the previously released “King Biscuit Flower Hour” caught The Alarm as a young, brash, and exciting band, this concert, recorded about a year later, shows so much amazing growth in the band’s performance abilities, you might even wonder if the same guys are playing the songs!

Sonically, this *IS* The Alarm for the history books. On this record we hear the band that pioneered the use of acoustic guitars for 80’s rock. We hear the songs and sounds that would inspire others bands to take and run with through the 80’s. One listen to “Howling Wind” on this disc will have you wondering just where U2 got the idea for “BAD” and if maybe all those the comparisions should have ran in the opposite direction. We hear the “shake your bones” electro-acoustic guitar that caught the imagination of some many young fans in those halcyon of the early 80’s. We hear the fire, the passion, and the unstoppable force that was The Alarm in 1984.

The tracklisting for the disc is as follows:

The Peace Train (classic concert intro)
Marching On
For Freedom
Shout To The Devil
The Deceiver
Tell Me
Third Light
Across The Border
Where Were You hiding?
One Step Closer To Home
Unbreak The Promise
Howling Wind
Sixty Eight Guns
Blaze Of Glory
The Stand
The Chant Has Just Begun

I’m hard-pressed to find any “favorites” on this record, because every track is magnificant. “The Chant” is surprising here because it shows just how much the original song was brother to “The Stand”, and shows just how much a band can get twiusted-up when they enter the recording studio. I would suppsoe though, that the finale of this album, “Unsafe Building” is the ultimate hightlight. Finally, once and for all, this song has been captured on CD at its best.

Listening to this album reminds me of the reissue of “The Who: Live At Leeds” where every track is fascinating in its historical context. The Alarm were the most exciting live band since The Who, so it is only fitting that a quintessential album like this one echoes one of the greatest live records ever recorded.

For Alarm fans though, this is an essential record. This is what the album “Declaration” should have sounded like. This is the tracklisting that should have been on it. This is The Alarm at their classic best. Don’t miss it.