Alt-Strength – (Album)

Alt-Strength was the first release of the original Alarm Record Collector’s Club in 2001 on The twenty First Century Recording Company label, catalogue number ARCC001

The two disc CD release features demonstration recordings, alternative versions including previously unheard songs, some of which that would feature on the second The Alarm studio in their completed versions. Many of the songs include alternative lyrics

Track Listing
Disc 1:
29th-30th November 1984 E-Zee Hire Studios, London. Demo tape session recorded by live sound engineer Nigel Luby. The band sent these tapes to America in December 1984 to legendary US record producer Jimmy Iovine who agreed to record the band in January 1985. the album was going to be entitles Absolute Reality and a tour was booked to coincide with it’s projected release. Unfortunately, Iovine never came to Britain to record with The Alarm. Iovine claimed an illness in his family prevented him from travelling, however it didn’t stop him record Once Upon A Time for Simple Minds. Rumour has it The Alarm were gazumped by Simple Minds who secured Iovine’s services for a larger advance payment
01: Knife Edge : Different lyrics and longer version
02: Absolute Reality : Originally intended to be the title track of the album
03: Sons Of Divorce : Unreleased Macdonald/Peters song. Never plated live
04: One Step Closer To Home : Electric version
05: Rose Beyond The Wall : Completely different arrangement / lyrics to 1987 Hurricane version
06: Steeltown : Different lyrics, title changed to Deeside when Big Country released an album called Steeltown
07: We Are Majority : Legendary We Are lyric version
08: Black Side Of Fortune : Unreleased Dave Sharp song occasionally played live around 84/85
09: The Day The Ravens Left The Tower : Slightly different lyrics to official version

4th April 1985 Roundhouse Studios, London. The band quickly found a replacement in the shape of Mike Howlett who was in sync with the bands ambition to create an album that sounded as close to their live sound. Howlett also agreed to work in the studio with the band’s live engineer Nigel Luby. Together they recorded this session before embarking on the Absolute Tour. The jam session was taped for inclusion on a flexi-disc given away inside the tour programme. Included here for the first time ever is the complete unedited recording. The band all loved this session as it did indeed capture their live sound and so all parties agreed to work together again upon the bands return in June
10: Get In On (T Rex)
11: Summertime Blues (Cochran, The Who)
12: Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top)
13: Alarm Alarm (Toilets/17)
14: Radar Love (Golden Earring)
15: Burn (Deep Purple)
16: Black Night (Deep Purple)
17: Can’t Always Get What You Want (Rolling Stones)
18: Walk On The Wild Side (Lou Reed)
19: Vicious (Lou Reed)
20: All Right Now (Free)
21: Communication Breakdown (Led Zep)
22: It’s In The Charts (unknown)
23: Maggie May/Maggies Farm/Stand Down Margret (Rod Stewart)

4th-10th April 1985 Roundhouse Studios, London
24: Dawn Chorus : 4th April rough mix, faster, no keyboard version, eventually slowed down and resung before release
25: Knife Edge : Roundhouse studios rough mix 10th April 1985

Disc 2:
10th May 1985: Birmingham Odeon. Absolute Tour. Soundcheck. Mike Peters had written a new song called Give ME Love after the show at Newcastle City Hall on May 6th. This is the first version of the song played by the band a few days later
1. Give Me Love : Contains quotes from Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower. Eventually retitled/recast as Strength

17th May 1985 Pluto Studios. Manchester. After the Jimmy Iovine debacle, the band first tried to reinstall Alan Shacklock as producer (Label boss, Miles Copeland had instigated Iovine because he didn’t like Shacklock’s production of the Absolute Reality single), but he was already committed to working with Roger Daltry of The Who. Alan Shacklock asked Mike Peters and Eddie Macdonald to write a song for Daltry. They cut the song in Pluto, Manchester on a day off during the Absolute Tour, before leaving for Northern Ireland
02: In The Cold Light Of Day : Despite working fast, Roger Daltry received the song too late to consider the song for his own sessions. Eventually reworked as Only Love Can Set Me Free and released on Eye of The Hurricane in 1987

June-July 1985: Main Recording Sessions, Marcus Recording Studio, Westbourne Grove, London
03: River Still To Cross : Demo taped by Dave Sharp during a late night session at Marcus. despite the insistence of the rest of the band, Dave Sharp preferred not to re-record the song for the album, but save it for later use. it was eventually reworked and added to by Peters and Macdonald durign the Change album session 1988/1989

27th June 1985 Backing Track Rough Mixes, Marcus Recording Studio, Westbourne Grove, London
04: Strength : Give Me Love now titles Strength with still working lyrics and a different guitar part. At this point the band decided to drop Absolute Reality from the album and use this song as the title track
05: Spirit Of ’76 : Backing track with very different lyrics
06: Deeside : Live in the studio version. No harmonica
07: For Tomorrow : Eventually retitled Father To Son live in the studio with different lyrics
08: Majority : Live in the studio with final lyrics after suggestion from Bono during shows with U2 in Europe
09: Absolute Reality : Live in the studio unreleased take. A studio version as cut for the US release although the song was originally left off the UK vinyl version as a single version had been issued to promote The Absolute Tour
10: One Step Closer To Home : Live in the studio. left off the album after Dave Sharp failed to complete the vocal overdubs after three day drinking binge with Jimmy Page of Led Zep
11: Only The Thunder : Live in the studio version
12: Day The Ravens Left The Tower : Live in the studio version. Different lyrics in middle section
13: Walk Forever By My Side : Piano and vocal version only, live in the studio. No Brass Band

15th July 1985 Rough Mixes, Marcus Recording Studio, Westbourne Grove, London
14: Strength : Rough mix with keyboard intro, no backing vocals and an acoustic part left out of released mix
15: Spirit Of ’76 : Rough mix of final version, possibly even better than released

The official version of Strength was mixed at Battery Studios in August and released worldwide in October 1985

(Page updated 13/02/2023)

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