Raw (Album)

Raw is the the fifth and final full studio length album released by the original The Alarm line up. This was released on 22nd April 1991 on the IRS Records label and features 10 songs. The was released in Vinyl, CD and Cassette. There was also a Welsh language version released called Tân. There was just one single released from this album, the title track Raw.

In 2000 Mike Peters remastered these original recordings as part of the Alarm 2000 collection, this was an extended version including tracks recorded in the same era and contains 5 extra tracks.

Mike Peters talks to Classic Pop in 2018 about Raw as part of : Declaration of Strength: The Alarm interview
The Alarm decided on a new direction for a new decade. Peters explains the rationale for 1991’s Raw as: “Making it live in the studio. A sound that’s really in your face and not afraid of distortion and volume. We knew that everything was changing. We couldn’t just be safe. Yet the bold new mission was undermined from the get-go by the album’s contents not being decided on merit: “Nigel and Dave wanted to make it an equal split of songwriting.” Peters thinks the LP commendable for what it is but notes: “It is like a ‘White Album’. That kind of record where it’s individuals working solo under the guise of a band. Nigel and Dave had both married American girls. Rehearsals were studies in getting people from all over the world to one room at the same time. It was so forced and it started to creep into everything we did and it comes across.” His weariness with the situation was manifested in his own writing. He half-admits that Moments In Time (originally called Swan Song) was his disguised way of telling the world that the band was finished. The Alarm’s plans to embark on a long tour to promote Raw were curtailed by Sharp’s decision to make a solo record. “He had one foot in and one foot out,” Peters says. “A gig was hastily arranged to bring the tour to an end at Brixton Academy. We were going to have a meeting the next day and put the band on hold, but Dave said he couldn’t come to it.” Peters found himself in a Ziggy Stardust scenario. “I went out on stage and said: ‘Look, this is my last moment in The Alarm’ and left the band on the stage. I didn’t even know it was coming myself ’til I said it. We all thought Dave was going to be the one to leave.”

Raw 1991

The album features an equal split of song writing credits with Raw, The Wind Blows Away My Words and Let The River Run It’s Course written by The Alarm. God Save Somebody, Save Your Cryin’ and Wonderful World written by Sharp/Twist. Moments In Time. Hell Or High Water and Lead Me Through The Darkness written by Macdonald/Peters. The final track being a cover of Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World.

Musicians & Credits
Mike Peters – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica
Dave Sharp – Vocals, Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Harmonica
Eddie Macdonald – Bass Guitars, Piano, Keyboards, Feedback, Backing Vocals
Nigel Twist – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Rob Storm – Hammond Organ

Recorded at Amazon Studios, Kirkby, Liverpool, England 28th July to 9th September 1990
Produced by The Alarm
Engineered by Mark Pythian and Rob Storm.
Assistant Engineer : Ian McFarlane. Additional Engineers : Keith Andrew, Keith Hartley, Danny Griffiths, Dave Buchanan.
Logistics Julie Peters
Photography Peter West
Artwork by John Heiden

The original track listing for the vinyl album is:
Side 1
1. Raw
2. Rockin’ In The Free World
3. God Save Somebody
4. Moments In Time
5. Hell Or High Water

Side 2
1. Lead Me Through The Darkness
2. The Wind Blows Away My Words
3. Let The River Run It’s Course
4. Save Your Crying
5. Wonderful World

The original album audio is available on the official Spotify Play list – Spotifly Audio Link

Raw Discography

1991 Raw Release
UK releases
Vinyl Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number EIRSA1055
Cassette Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number EIRSAC1055
CD Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number EIRSACD1055

Europe release
Vinyl Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 EMI Electrola, catalogue number 1C 064-713087 1
CD Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number 7130872

Italian Releases
Vinyl Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number E64 7130871
Cassette Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number 64 7130874

USA Releases
CD Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number X2-13087
Cassette Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number X4-13087

Canadian Release
CD Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number X2-13087

Japanese Release
CD Album – Raw, 22nd April 1991 IRS Records, catalogue number VICP-5054

2000 Raw [1990-1991] Remaster Release
Worldwide Release
CD Album – Raw [1990-1991] Twenty First Century Recording Company, catalogue number 21C016. Originally only available as part of the collection box set, catalogue number 21C018 it was later made available for sale at gigs as a single disc.

Album Reviews

Telextex by Viv Johnson
Studio album number five from The Alarm and surel an L.P. that will once again win them a place in the hearts and minds of British rock fans. “Raw” is a powerful album that comes up with killer after killer cuts. Even the cover version here, Neil Young’s ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD is safe in the hands of The Alarm. Album opener and title track, RAW sets the agenda with flowing guitar and gritty vocals. RAW is a gritty guitar based Rock track at it best. No wonder the Americans love this band so much. GOD SAVE SOMEBODY is a country tinged stroll of a song complete with clever lyrics while MOMENTS IN TIME is a slow acoustic ballad, a potential show stopper for suture live performances. RAW is an album that will satisfy Alarm fans and win the band many new admirers. Who ever said that Rock was dead !!!!!!!

Notebored – Jul/Aug 1991 – Vol. 5, No. 1 by T. William Gallagher
A line in the song “Moments in Time” from Raw, the latest release from the Alarm, seems to sum up songwriter Mike Peters’ current vision for this band: “Somewhere we got lost along the way.” Indeed, the title is apt; what we have here is one of those back-to-basics, we-can-be-a-garage-band collection of artful yet angry songs that eschews the sequencer formula the band has perfected on many of their singles. The cover photo shows a laid-back, grungy group of lads in classic Let It Be style amidst the detritus of the recording studio. Could this be yet another manifestation of the “Let’s do the MTV Unplugged thing” syndrome? Thankfully, no. Most of these songs mine the rich vein of hard-edged rock that caught the attention of music critics back in 1985 with the release of Strength, their third album. The balance of razor guitar and singable melody that the Alarm does better than most bands (the comparison to U2 that often resurfaces is unfounded these days) comes together in the majority of the songs here. Peters seems to have abandoned his cookbook songwriting style to craft somewhat more thoughtful arrangements and, as if to accentuate the “raw” approach, he gives a heartfelt reading of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” (which the Alarm covered during their last tour), although it seems strangely polished. The neo-spiritual imagery Peters offers is sometimes shopworn (one too many references to trains and rivers for me), but he has some poignant ways of making us feel his pain. One wishes he would sometimes delve into the internecine nature of everyday relationships, but that never was his forte. One thing the Alarm does well is reflect on their past (going as far back as “Spirit of ’76” on Strength). Two songs on Raw, “Moments in Time” and “Wonderful World” manage to dispense with this Alarm-trodden theme in completely different and ingenious ways. In “Moments in Time,” Peters acquaints us with “A Woodstock field in the heat of the night” and “Elvis, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones,” telling us they “live on forever” in his mind. Although we’ve heard songs like this before, the band throws us a musical curve ball: the verses are in a different key than the chorus; an aural equivalent to the shifts from glorified past to reflective present that the lyrics present. In “Wonderful World,” the Alarm tips their collective hat to another supposed influence, Bob Dylan, as guitarist and secondary tunesmith Dave Sharp sings a litany of grievances in a monotonous, rapid-fire delivery (unifying a genealogy of songs that includes “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and Elvis Costello’s “Pump it Up,” not to mention Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business”) to a rowdy shuffle complete with harmonica. The fadeout gives us various band members spouting a grocery list of world problems like homelessness and violence and, in a surprisingly humorous twist, “Willburies.” In this way the Alarm manages to effectively convey both their respect for the legacy of Bob Dylan and their obvious contempt for his recent work. The Alarm Unplugged? Not a chance. With this album, we once again glimpse the songwriting and elemental, enjoyable approach to rock ‘n’ roll that made the band a force to be reckoned with. If Raw presents to us the Alarm of the ‘9Os, then let’s hope that this vision doesn’t become another part of their glorified past.

Raw [1990-1991] – 2000 Remaster

The 2000 remastered version on CD contains the following track listing :

1. The Road (Previously unreleased mix)
2. Rockin’ In The Free World (Previously unreleased extended version)
3. Raw
4. The Wind Blows Away My Words
5. Unsafe Building [1990] (Previously unreleased extended version)
6. God Save Somebody
7. Moments In Time
8. Let The River Run It’s Course (Previously unreleased extended version)
9. Lead Me Through The Darkness
10. Hell Or High Water
11. Wonderful World
12. Save Your Crying
13. Up For Murder [1990] (Previously unavailable on album)
14. Happy Xmas [War Is Over]
15. Walk Forever By My Side (Previously unreleased acoustic version)

The remastered album audio is available on the Alarm Central audio section or official Spotify Play list – Spotify Audio Link

Album Reviews

The Mick 27 – Mick Mercer
Back to a democratic format then, with endless water imagery, The Alarm make a record which deserves to signal the end of a career, and it shows how sad things must have become that they weren’t able to assess their material accurately. ‘The Road’ is a simple rock plod to open, with vacuous lyrics unless it’s a super-ironic tribute to the Doobie Brothers? ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ is feisty and controlled, as it should be, but as we return to their own songs ‘Raw’ is simply engaging rawk with a simple down-home, charm, where the lyrics fairly forgettable. It’s wiry with clipped energy and works well enough but seems pointless. Again the impact made by ‘The Wind Blows Away My Words’, an amiably drifting song, is vague, especially on the vocal front. ‘Unsafe Building (1990)’ is a mature version, in which everything is calm and radio friendly, making it tedious beyond belief. ‘God Save Somebody’ has a faux American delivery and it’s quite a weedy thing, just skinny enough to hold interest ‘Moments In Time’ is an acoustic, historical parade and although the backing vocals are a bit mawkish it’s the strongest song here, heavy with regret. ‘Let The River Run Its Course’ is nice and empty, so the guitar’s wriggling sound fine but there’s no actual depth or vivacity, plus a widdly solo, as though they’re secret fans of Stevie Nicks ‘Lead Me Through The Darkness’ clips along, simple and bland, ‘Hell Or High Water’ is like a constipated Bryan Adams, played with brusque verve, but ‘Wonderful World’ is definitely interesting, bouncing along with some highly unexpected lyrics. That’s fun! ‘Save Your Crying’ sounds ancient, because Dave now is Dylan! ‘Up For Murder (1990)’ is a limp crawl, and ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ has its heartwarming sincerity, complete with the warmth of the choir, to win us over easily. ‘Walk Forever By My Side’ is very sweet and simple, the last thing they ever recorded, anywhere. And that throws everything into sharp relief. A beautiful song right at the end of troubled times and in direct contrast to the dreary songs stuffed onto this, which the band would have been severely unimpressed by had you played similar material to them back in the early 80’s. Unless you consider that maybe implosion was inevitable given the intransigence between song-writing duos they had it all, and they threw it all away.

(Page updated 12/09/2021)

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