The Alarm began rather inauspiciously in 1978 as a band name “Seventeen”, formed in the North Wales town of Rhyl, in the wake of an explosive punk scene that was then whimpering towards the 80’s. Each member of “Seventeen” had spent several years languishing in rock and punk bands around and in the vicinity of Rhyl. They had all known or known-of each other since their pre-teen years, and had played together in previous bands. Formed from the demise of such memorable stalwarts as “The Toilets” (Mike Peters, Nigel Twist), “Quasimodo”, (Dave Sharp, Nigel Twist), “Chuck Burial And The Embalmed” (Dave Sharp), “Pax” (Dave Sharp, Nigel Twist), and “Amsterdam” (Eddie MacDonald), “Seventeen’s” ideals were much like those previous bands’. They were going to muster the teenagers, sign a record deal, hit it big on Radio 1 and conquer the world. In fact, the band was formed at the soundcheck of the Toilet’s last performance.
“ It was during the soundcheck that Peters and MacDonald got to play together for the first time and jammed their way through some embryonic new songs. Peters sang for the first time and with MacDonald’s guitar deftly handling the counter melodies, the two could immediately sense the dynamic possibilities that lay ahead. The Toilets went on to play their last show but for Mike Peters it was not the end, it was only the beginning.
“Seventeen” tried to achieve their lofty goals in a rather ordinary way with ordinary results. They played reasonably competent, yet unremarkable, mod-flavored power-pop, inspired by the popular styles of the day (“The Jam”, “Rich Kids”). By 1981 they had released a go-nowhere single (“Don’t Let Go” b/w “Bank Holiday Weekend” ) on the Vendetta Records label, but git a break touring with the Stray Cats.
“When we were in Seventeen we got to tour with the Stray Cats, they were a big influence on our whole band. We had some great times, we managed to blag on this tour with the Stray Cats. We went up to this studio in north London, and the Stray Cats were there making Runaway Boys with Dave Edmonds. And we sort of hit it off with the band straight away, it was really lucky. They were from America and they didn’t know anybody, we were from Wales and we didn’t know anybody. And we kind of got on really well. So we got the gig, they let us play at the Crystal Palace Hotel, and in the party afterwards we got on great. And they invited us to go on the whole tour, which we did. “
-Mike Peters, Alarm 2000 Day
However, Seventeen were short-lived. After trying to kidnaped a journalist to get him to listen to their music, and being kicked off a tour with Dexy’s Midnight Runners after one show, the band called it quits. While things looked bleak, they went on hiatus for a few months, and ended up rediscovering why they wanted to be in a band in the first place.
Mike Peters had been inspired by punk rock. His life was changed in 1976, after seeing the Sex Pistols in Chester, England. He had never before experienced the type of energy that a band like the Sex Pistols could create on stage. He decided then and there that his life as a computer operator would only be temporary. After starting “The Toilets” with Nigel Twist in 1976, he knew he was destined for a life on stage with a 3-chords in one-hand, and the truth in the other. “The Toilets” were a short-lived yet positive beginning, and “Seventeen” was supposed to be his vessel into the pop world, yet somehow it was just not happening. As he sat in his punk clothing shop “Riot” in the Spring of 1981, it suddenly came to him. He had not been inspired by the early punk of “The Clash”, and “The Pistols” because they were ripping other people off. He was inspired by their integrity and the power of their live performances. He realized that it was time to stop imitating and start innovating. He began by writing a new song about tearing down your life and re-constructing it.
Eddie MacDonald had been drawn into the punk scene after seeing “The Toilets” at the urging of Dave Sharp (who was acting as part-time manger for the band). He had known Mike Peters since the age of five, when they played together on the sands of the Rhyl oceanfront, but was not pre-pared for the onslaught Peters’ band had in store for him. MacDonald, who was playing guitar in the standard-rock outfit “Amsterdam” at the time, approached Mike Peters about a possible collaboration. They were both starting to write pop-punk songs after being inspired by the songs of ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock’s new band “Rich Kids”. When The Toilets broke-up, Peters and McDonald started to seriously write songs together. This collaboration continued into “Seventeen”, and it helped form the basis of the Alarm. While working his clothes stall in Rhyl named Riot, Peters wrote the lyrics to a song that he was very excited about.
““I had a little clothes shop in Rhyl called Riot Clothes. ‘We pose till we close’ was the catchphrase.
-Mike Peters, Alarm 2000 Day
Peters showed the newly penned lyrics to Eddie MacDonald, and together they wrote the music to what would become the first Alarm song, “Unsafe building”.
Nigel Twist was born to play drums. His step-father was a drummer, and he picked up the sticks at an early age. Born Nigel Buckle in Manchester, England, Twist’s family moved to Rhyl when he was a pre-teenager. He quickly joined the local music scene, venturing in and out of various bands like “Quasimodo” until he landed in “The Toilets”. Twist was reluctant about punk rock at first, but by the time “The Toilets” opened for “The Clash” at Erik’s in Liverpool he had seen the light. After a stint in “PAX” with Dave Sharp and Karl Wallinger (who went on to form “World Party”) he joined “Seventeen”, and was on-board for The Alarm when the transformation took place.
Dave Sharp’s heart had always been in folk music. His mother was a Flamenco guitarist, who encouraged him to take up music at an early age. At the age of 9 he and Nigel Twist would play in together in Twist’s Manchester garage: Twist banging on his step-father’s drum-kit, and Dave bashing out songs on his mother’s acoustic guitar. When Twist moved to Rhyl, Dave would visit on weekends, and their musical pursuits continued. As a teenager Sharp changed musical styles and monikers as fast as they showed up on the local music scene. His real name was Dave Kitchingman, but you could find him by the name of “Chuck Burial” in 1976, and finally as Dave Sharp when he became part of The Alarm. Just before “Seventeen”, Sharp was so serious about a career in the world of rock n’ roll that he was prepared to take “PAX” to London with Wallinger and Twist, but his father convinced him to join the Merchant Marine instead. Sharp’s musical ambitions were as strong as ever when he returned from travelling the world, and he quickly joined up with “Seventeen”. Dave Sharp was inspired the “The Stray Cats” on the impromptu Seventeen tour. He was was impressed by their sound and the way they mixed political themes with their brand of new-wave rock-a-billy. Armed with that inspiration, and a home-made guitar crafted from Mike Peters’ acoustic and cheap parts from an electric, Sharp, with a bit of help from Nigel Twist, wrote his first Alarm song “Up For Murder”, an all-acoustic firestorm mixing electrified acoustic instruments with decidedly political lyrics. Sharp started his own skiffle band in the spirit of the Stray Cats named “The Screamin’ Demons” using “Up For Murder” as the basis of the band’s sound. Soon though, it became apparent that “The Alarm” would be the future for Dave Sharp.
“This is probably the song that was most influenced by the Cats really. This was one of Dave’s first ever contributions to Alarm-world and it’s a song called “Up For Murder”
-Mike Peters Alarm 2000 Day
Together, the power-pop of “Unsafe building” and the folk-punk of “Up for Murder” combined to create the basis of The Alarm sound. At once, all four musicians knew they were on to something special. Monetary gain was not at the crux of their efforts. The Alarm were more interested in making their mark, at the least to be remembered, and at the most to become the greatest band in the history of rock music.
They searched for name that would make their new band sound like the stuff of legend. Names like “Drums And Guns”, “Uprising”, “Men Of Harlech”, and “Black Sheep” were discussed before Eddie Macdonald suggested “Alarm Alarm”, the name of a Toilets song. In the summer of 1981, “Seventeen” played their final show, announcing their new name “Alarm Alarm”, The name did not last long. After the Seventeen song “Four Minute Warning” was mentioned on John Peel’s famous radio show, the DJ explained that “Seventeen” had recently changed their name to “Alarm Alarm” and were now another “two named band” ala Duran Duran and Talk Talk. They quickly shortened it to “The Alarm”.
The full transformation from “Seventeen” to the Alarm came with more changes than just style and attitude. It also came with a change in location as the band moved from relatively obscure Rhyl, Wales to London, England in an effort to widen their own perspectives as well as their prospective audience.
“We had a policy then, “”Would we actually go and buy the record by this band?”” And when we started playing Unsafe Building we thought “Yeah, I like this” And that meant something to us. And rather that stay in Rhyl and play to holidaymakers and all that kind of stuff, we decided that we’d move to London. Take a risk, give it a-what-not, big shot. “
-Mike Peters (Alarm 2000 Day)
Sharing a single flat, they worked odd jobs by day, and by night played any and every show they could possibly find to earn cash for their grand plan. Not wanting to dabble with demo tapes like so many other bands, they wanted to have their own piece of vinyl that they could sell at shows and give to record companies to show how serious they were in their new endeavor. With the money they saved they recorded 2000 copies of their first single, “Unsafe Building” b/w “Up For Murder”.
“We’d recorded Unsafe Building and Up for Murder, because we knew we had to go down armed with a single. In 1981, every band that presented themselves, they presented themselves with demo tapes, so we that out if we’ve got our own single that would be good. We’d seen how Pete Wylie from Wah Heat, he’d made a single, I remember buying it off him in Matthew Street in Liverpool, outside Erics. All of a sudden he wasn’t just another fan at the gigs, he was like in a band with a record and it put him up there somewhere. We wanted to have that same thing and we knew that if people bought our records, that’s when you become fans.”
-Mike Peters (Alarm 2000 Day)
By the Autumn of 1981, The Alarm were making a name for themselves playing shows all over London and the surrounding area. They stormed the clubs, playing acoustic punk with an intensity that few had witnessed since the punk heyday 5 years prior. Working with nearly all acoustic instruments, they bashed out their inspirational, observational, and political anthems to any audience that would hear them. By this time, the roles of each band member had been clearly laid-out. Mike Peters was the main lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Dave Sharp became the lead guitarist, and sometimes lead vocalist. Eddie MacDonald became full-time bass player, and Nigel Twist continued to play drums. The Alarm differentiated themselves on stage by wearing cowboy and cavalry clothes and spiking their hair in a ceiling-scraping, electric shock style that gained them instant notoriety within the ranks of club-going music fans. The style of the band’s clothes and hair may have gotten people to stop and listen but it was honesty and sincerity put-forth in the music that kept people coming back. Ultimately, the vinyl single was the killer element, giving new fans something to take home, and record company men something to listen to.
One of those people was Sarah Jane Olsen, who worked for Ian Wilson at Wasted Talent. Wasted Talent was the agent for people like U2, and was always on the lookout for new bands wit ha unique sound. Sarah Jane took Wilson to see The Alarm at the Rock Garden, December 19, 1981. Ian Wilson described it this way:
“On Stage at the Rock Garden, Covent Garden, London (19/12/81) I saw them for the first time and immediately recognized a musical power, energy and excitement that I had come to learn first from The Police and then The Beat and most recently The Stray Cats…Now three singers! Three busking bastardised acoustics all competing for the lead; all four vocal harmonies right on; military civil war coloured flashes from their hips to their boots; Peace! March! Ban the Bomb! All badges plastering Mike’s jacket and these incredible songs that struck right into my brain; ‘Marchin’ On’, ‘Shout to the Devil’, ‘What Kind of Hell?’,’ Third Light’, ‘Across the Border’, ‘Up for Murder’, ‘Second Generation’,’ Pavilion Steps’ and ’68 Guns’…What a buzz!“
After the years of toiling in bands like “Seventeen”, The Alarm were finally doing everything right.
By 1982, through Ian Wilson, they caught the ear of EMI, who offered them a recording contract.
“We actually got offered a singles deal by EMI and we agreed to do it. It was for two singles and we thought “Great!” and then we went out to celebrate and got drunk and talked ourselves out of doing it cause we wanted to make a proper album. We thought “Let’s bin it and we’ll get a proper album” but we never got another record company after that interested in us until Miles Copeland came along.
-Mike Peters, Alarm 2000 Day
They ultimately turned down EMI in favor of a deal with IRS Records that gave them more control over their work. Hoping to build on the momentum they had created in the clubs, The Alarm quickly released a 3-track single, “Marching On” b/w “Across The Border”, and “Lie Of The Land” , that showcased their acoustic rock power.
“As an ex Punk I was still in love with guitar music and here was a band that had Guitars and amazing songs . I knew i had to get involved so i persuaded Miles Copland my boss to let me do an ep with the band which became the Marching On single which we recorded at Matrix Studios near the British Museum.”
-Steve Tannett IRS A&R Executive
The single went mostly , but went unnoticed by the radio. The band’s strength was still in their live shows, and it was from there that hey gained a most-important ally: U2. The Alarm’s live sets had become legendary. The Alarm’s manager, Ian Wilson, was so keen on The Alarm’s success that he became the unofficial 5th member of the band. Using his relationship with as U2’s agent he landed the band offered a support slot the U2’s War Tour (1983) . The Alarm gladly accepted.
U2 and The Alarm were a great match. The Alarm would warm the crowd into a frenzy and then U2 would conquer it. The Alarm’s music was not all too similar to that of U2, but their intensity and penchant for inspirational lyrics were. As 1983 rolled around, U2 had no opening band to support them on their American tour and The Alarm were the obvious choice. IRS released “The Stand” as a single in the UK and as part of an The Alarm EP in the USA to coincide with the tour.
“In the USA we released the 12″ vinyl ep The Stand which was promoted by the IRS staff with distribution only through A&M . In many ways that was what made IRS unique in that it could develop things before the “big stick” was brought in to play. In my mind from the day i signed the band i knew this was going all the way.”
It was the perfect song at the perfect time, becoming an instant classic, and a minor hit on US College Radio (reaching #5). The song was inspired Stephen King’s book of the same name, but it was not a simple translation of words to music. Mike Peters twisted the book’s imagery into a metaphor of The Alarm’s struggle for success just like King had twisted the Book of Revelation to fit his novel. Written as a collaboration between the differing styles of McDonald/Peters and Dave Sharp, “The Stand” contained all the elements of The Alarm mystique: inspirational, battle-scarred imagery, acoustic guitar, harmonica and a driving intensity that could not be ignored.
Without any introduction or fanfare, The Alarm created a market for themselves by simply playing their powerful music. The Alarm’s sincerity and pure musical emotion won over U2 fans who would normally politely ignore an opening band. They created such a frenzy, that as the U2 tour came to a close, they stayed in the USA several more weeks to headline a successful small tour of their own.
After a tour of the England, and another trip to America, The Alarm settled into the studio to record their first album Declaration in late 1983. They had planned to record “Unsafe building” and “Up For Murder” for the album, but those songs had been eclipsed by other songs that were getting fanatical responses from their live audiences. “Sixty Eight Guns” actually pre-dated the first Alarm, songs, being the only hold-over track from the repertoire of Seventeen. The song was one cornerstone of a musical trilogy that would emerge over the following 15 years. “Sixty Eight Guns” told the story of a youth gang in 1968 trying to etch out an existence in the increasingly bleak surroundings of North Wales. It was inspired by a book Mike Peters had read about Irish street gangs, but, much like “The Stand”, he twisted the lyrics to fit his own situation. “Sixty Eight Guns” was about Mike Peters and his own friends, and it became the first Alarm song to deal with friendship, a theme the band would return to often. There was a passion and sincerity in the song that many fans latched onto, and these elements became a driving force behind the Alarm’s sudden rise to stardom. The song was released a single in the UK, and shot The Alarm to number #17 on the pop singles charts. While fans loved the song, music-critics used it to take pot-shots at the band. Music journalism in the UK had grown from a cottage industry supporting punk bands in the 70’s, into a cynical cut-throat machine made of journalists trying to discover “the next big thing”.
“I think “they” (the press) could not embrace Mikes passion and commitment to the art of songwriting and performance . Perhaps the message was too simple? Anyway when you stood in the room and watched the band perform Spirit of 76 or Rescue Me it just didn’t matter all that mattered was the music. The fans get that.”
The Alarm were never “discovered”, and as they became a sensation without the help of NME and their ilk, those publications started trashing the band, hoping it would just go-away. Without even attempting to analyze the “Sixty Eight Guns” they accused The Alarm of rabble-rousing with ill-defined lyrics. They simply had no idea what The Alarm were about.
Another single was released in early 1984, jut before the album release of Declaration “Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?” . The song had become a live favorite, and they thought it would make a perfect single. The track asked questions of the listener, but was ultimately aimed back at the thoughtless music journalists who were questioning The Alarm’s values. Simply put ,the song says “hey, we were there in the beginning, we were part of the early punk movement…where were you?”. The song was another smash-hit, reaching number 22 on the pop singles chart.
Declaration, produced by Alan Shacklock, was released in early 1984. Any question as to whether The Alarm had clicked with music fans vanished as the album quickly climbed the charts, finally resting at number 6. Declaration was filled with acoustic-drenched punk optimism and the crunch of a solid rock and roll footing that had been developed over three years of constant touring. The most notable song on the album was “Blaze Of Glory”. The version of the song that appears here was not recorded for the album, but is the original version recorded with Mick Glossop at the same time “The Stand” was recorded in 1983. “Blaze Of Glory” was one of the few classic Alarm songs created from the song-writing partnership between Dave Sharp, Mike Peters and Eddie MacDonald. The worn-torn imagery of the song is a analogy for staying true to your beliefs through diversity and struggle. This was The Alarm’s most powerful song, and became the cornerstone of the band’s live set throughout their entire career. The final single from Declaration was “The Deceiver” . One of The Alarm’s most beautiful songs, it is filled with acoustic strumming and soaring harmonica. Mike Peters has at times called “The Deceiver” a song about “love/hate relationships”, and at others a song about “greed”. What ultimately stands out about the song is that The Alarm were capable of writing lyrics that transcended the author’s original intentions, becoming personal to each listener. Sometimes the original “meaning” of the songs were not necessarily important as what the listener “believed” they meant. This fact also held true for some other the other Alarm classics that graced Declaration such as the beautiful “We Are The Light” and the phenomenal “Howling Wind”.
After another trip to the USA in late 1984, and then a short tour of Japan, The Alarm decided to record some new songs instead of wringing another single out of Declaration. Recording again with Alan Shacklock, the sessions proved nearly disastrous. The band managed to record a solid version of “Bells Of Rhymey”, (which was a poem by Welsh poet Idries Davies before it was recorded by The Byrds in the late 60’s), and an impressive version of Woodie Guthries’s “Bound for Glory”. However, they faltered greatly with “The Chant Has Just begun”, a misguided attempt at New-Wave dance music that was created from “fear of failure” more than other factor. Even so, the song could have become a huge hit it its airplay had not been restricted by the BBC due to lyrical similarities with a then recent terrorist attack on the House Of Commons. The song only reached #48 on the pop-chart, failing to become the huge pop hit they had hoped for. The highlight of the 12-inch singles for “The Chant Has Just Begun” was the b-side: A full-length version of “The Stand”, that restored a missing verse, cut from the the single version for cost considerations.
Sensing they had worn out their welcome with Alan Shacklock, they decided to search for a new producer that could help them clearly define their sound. In early 1985 they thought they had found the right person. They were scheduled to record a new album with then-famous producer Jimmy Iovine (U2, Tom Petty And The Heart Breakers, now the head of Interscope Records). However, producing The Alarm was not a priority for Iovine, and the band was soon left without anyone to helm their next album. They tapped Alan Shacklock one last time, and were off to record a few more songs for another single until a permanent producer could be found. That single became “Absolute Reality”, a song based on a line from the Alan Ginsberg poem “Howl”. With punk intensity, and heart-felt lyrics, it became one a live standard and one of The Alarm’s greatest songs. . It was also a sizable hit, reaching #35 on the UK pop-singles chart. The back of the “Absolute Reality” single became the final resting place for the original version of “Blaze Of Glory (1983)”, recorded with Mick Glossop in 1983.
A world tour opening for The Pretenders followed in the Spring of 1985, and then it was finally into the studio to record their new album, Strength. The band finally found a producer in Mike Howlett, who understood what they needed to move to the next level. It was because of Howlett’s insistence (and some encouragement from Bono Vox) that Mike Peters started writing more songs from a first-person perspective. No longer fighting the world, The Alarm’s songs took a drastic turn towards increasingly personal subjects. Even Dave Sharp got into the spirit, attempting to record his magnum opus , “One Step Closer To Home”, but could not seem to record a version that he as comfortable with and it was left off the album.
The final product of these sessions was Strength. If Declaration was The Alarm’s ultimate attempt at “acoustic punk”, then Strength was their similar nod towards powerful rock and roll. Every song on the album brimmed with dynamics: from thunderous choruses to expertly placed moments of silence. The punk intensity of Declaration had been pared down into cohesive set of brilliantly conceived rock songs. With their second album The Alarm were far from repeating themselves. Each song was distinct and well-crafted, sounding very different from Declaration, yet sharing the common thread of honesty and hope that existed in all of The Alarm’s songs since their inception. “Strength” the title track said it all. Organ flows into Mike Peter’s pleading vocals “Give Me Love…”, that are soon over-ridden by the ensuing rock attack. The song, at once showed the new Alarm: Daring, and unconventional, they now effused personal hopes and fears, while retaining the inspirational rock attack that had garnered them legions of fans. “Strength” was a sizable hit in its own-right reaching the Top-40 in the UK. The “Strength” single was backed with a rather remarkable gem named “Majority”. The song was rock fire-storm, filled with introspective lyrics, and insight into The Alarm’s experiences in the music world. Many years later, Mike Peters finally admitted regretting that the song never made it on the the Strength album.
Strength also contained the second song in Mike Peters musical-trilogy about friendship, “Spirit Of ’76”. Quite possibly The Alarm ‘s finest recording, “Spirit Of ’76” follows the “gang” of “Sixty Eight Guns” now grown up and experiencing the liberation of the punk movement in the mid-70’s. They all feel the classic struggle between maintaining youthful ideals while facing the cold truth of reality. “Spirit Of ’76” is a song of reverie, tragedy, and ultimately hope. It was the single most popular song The Alarm ever recorded, and one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded. Like “Strength”, it reached the Top-40 on the UK pop charts. “Strength” had its quieter moments as well, especially the revealing and exquisite “Walk Forever By My Side” and “Only The Thunder”. With this song and its counterpart “Dawn Chorus” The Alarm moved further into the territory of love and friendship than they had ever gone before. While parts of Strength may have been quiet, the album was not The Alarm’s patented furious rock-attack. “Deeside”, a real barn-burner, chronicled steel mill closings, and the value of the working man in the modern world. Eddie MacDonald’s flu-hallucination-inspired “The Day The Ravens Left The Tower” signified true growth in the band’s song-writing, while the final single from the album, “Knife Edge”, bridged the gap between the acoustic sound of Declaration, and The Alarm’s new-found electric-rock stance on Strength.
The success of Strength put The Alarm on the “A-List”of music artists in 1986, and soon they were invited to particpate on all sorts of projects. They sang “Let It Be” for the “Ferry Aid” single, and for the first time were invited record a song for exclusive use on a movie soundtrack. The song “World On Fire” was ultimately left off the “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” soundtrack album, and never re-surfaced again on any Alarm recordings until the Alarm 2000 boxed set in 2000.
Spirit Of ’86
The 1985 Strength tour and it’s 1986 counterpart the Spirit Of ’86 tour were a triumph for The Alarm. Massive radio airplay in the UK and USA created steady sales, pushing the album into the Top-40 in the UK and all the way to #31 in the USA. The band treated the new in-flux of fans just like they had treated the die-hard ones that had been with them since the beginning in 1981. No one waiting to for an autograph or to talk to the band after a show was turned away. The band seemed to thrive on their fan-base, and more than mere showmanship, they really wanted to bridge the gap between artists and fan. In the middle of their tour, The Alarm decided o give something back. On April 12, 1986 The Alarm made their most striking mark on the world of rock music. In front of 20,000 fans at UCLA and millions more around the world watching on MTV, they played a free, 75 minute live concert called The Spirit Of ’86. They put on the show as a “thank-you” to all the fans who had stuck with them and all the new ones they had gained along the way. The show highlighted most of The Alarm’s “hits”, and was considered a triumph by most people who witnessed the spectacle, even though there were a few problems. Mid-way through “Marching On”, a football thrown by a drunk frat-boy decimated Twists’ bass drum, rendering it useless. To the live crowd it made no difference, but it severely crippled the low-end of the audio broadcast, making later songs like Spirit Of ’76 sound hallow and lifeless. Furthermore, IRS waited a full six months to release the show on video, missing nearly any chance of capturing the momentum created by the show. Even so, the band was ecstatic after the show. A two-night stand opening for Queen and status Quo at Wembley Stadium sealed the deal for them. To them The Alarm were finally on their way, super-stardom would soon be within their grasp.
Eye Of The Hurricane
When the promotional efforts for the Strength album were finally completed, the band took a rest from a solid year of constant touring and began to face reality. They were flooded with offers from all sides to write soundtracks and perform on albums and tours, but something seemed very wrong. It was as-if every con-man in England had jumped on their band-wagon, and it was very difficult to tell friend from foe. Furthermore in-fighting between band members, caused by road fatigue and friendships stretched to the limit were destroying them, from the inside. A Money squabble with band members pointing fingers at each other and their manager looking for answers to their now empty bank accounts did not help matters. These problems led to a verbal falling out, break-up rumors in the press, an eventual parting of the ways for a “break”. Instead of taking up any offers, they took off in different directions. Dave Sharp left for France to write songs, Mike Peters did the same in Wales, while Twist and MacDonald returned to their homes in England. It was time of introspection for all, and especially for Sharp and Peters, a time to return to their roots. Weeks turned into months, and any hope of recording and releasing a quick fallow-up to Strength to capture and hold the territory they had gained, vanished.
Mike Peters spent most of this time in North Wales, travelling the country-side and looking for inspiration from the land and people of Wales. It ended up being a very prolific time for Peters. He wrote over 20 songs, some finding their way onto The Alarm’s next album, and others like “A New South Wales” and “Lead Me Through The Darkness” would be recorded for subsequent Alarm albums. Some of the songs, like “Blindfold”, “Ghosts Of Rebecca”, “I Am What I Am” and “The Darkest Hour” some of which have never surfaced.
When Dave Sharp returned from France in late 1986, his inspiration led him into the studio with Nigel Twist and members of Wire Train and The Pretenders to record a demo tape. The result was full album’s worth of songs, half of which would shape the future of Sharp’s Alarm and solo material for years to come. “Homeless Child” ended up on Sharp’s first solo album Hard Travelin’, “Save Your Cryin'” would be recorded for The Alarm’s final studio album, Raw, and “My Land Your Land” and “Vigilante Man”, a Woody Guthrie cover, ended up as b-sides of later Alarm singles. “Julia” popped up a few times in Sharps’ solo concerts, but was never recorded. The other half of the material, including “Northwinds: A Seafarer’s Tale”, and four other nearly completed songs, has never surfaced anywhere.
Showing incredible resolve, the band managed to overcome their differences, and returned to form in the Spring of 1987. While they had missed a golden opportunity to quickly follow-up Strength with a like-minded effort, repeating themselves was not a common practice for The Alarm , so it fit with their overall perspective about making music. Furthermore, after putting the past 2 years into perspective , it became clear that the Strength album and subsequent did not hold the significance The Alarm had hoped for. With all of their success, they were nearly willing to compromise their ideals for a shot at super-stardom. They had tasted, if for a moment, what that might be like. Sure, the success of Strength was great, but was it what they really wanted? Was it worth it? They slowly came to the realization that becoming the “greatest band of all time” might not be “Valhalla” that had sought after. If it meant becoming a gear in the corporate machine of rock ‘n roll, then they would have no part of it. What seemed so close after the UCLA show now seemed like the hallow dream of a band bent on staying young forever. For The Alarm to continue they would have to mature as individuals and as a whole, or everything they had worked so hard for over half a decade would have been for nothing.
In the Spring of 1987 The Alarm resurfaced, nearly a year after the end of the Spirit Of ’86 tour. Outwardly the band displayed a new solidarity, even though secretly relations were still a bit frayed. They started out full-tilt, bent on showing the world that they were an even better band than the one that had created Strength two years before. They began in the spring of 1987 with the Electric Folklore tour, using it to try out new material for their next album, Eye Of The Hurricane. Still “hot” from the tour, they took their new material directly into the studio to record with John Porter (Roxy Music) producing. The band wanted to create an album for themselves, not for the people pressuring them to re-make Strength. Instead of re-hashing old ideas, they were bent on creating an album that they would be proud of a decade down the road. The tension however, started again as soon as the first tracks were being laid down. The album’s worth of material that Dave Sharp brought to the studio was completely rejected by a consortium of record company officials , the band, managers and producers, leaving only the four-year-old “One Step Closer To home” as his lone contribution to Eye Of The Hurricane. Upset by this, Sharp announced that he would play no “overdubs” on the album. Any extra guitar parts would have to played by someone else. He desperately wanted an outlet for his own material, but it was just not right for the band at that moment. No overdubs meant the rest of the band had to push themselves to play better, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. For all the tension in the studio, each member began to respect the others musical ability a bit more, and it helped solidify the group as a whole, which was something they desperately needed.
Eye Of The Hurricane turned out strikingly different from The Alarm’s two previous albums. Acoustic guitars, missing from Strength were added back into the sound, creating fuller and richer textures. Since Sharp refused to play over-dubs, the basic guitar parts had to be supplemented with more instruments. Along with the acoustic guitars, keyboards and electronic drums were used sparingly to create a brand-new crafted pop sound for the band. This sound could be heard most strikingly on the startlingly track, “Rain In The Summertime”. Electronic drums and ringing guitars populate this strikingly beautiful song, showing The Alarm were capable of expertly created pop as well as well as the all-out fist pumping rock of songs like “Rescue Me”. Lyrically, Eye of the Hurricane was more focused and creative than previous Alarm albums. The wordsmithed brilliance of “One Step Closer To Home” and lovelorn depth of “Presence Of Love” showed just how far the band had matured in the song-writing department. The Alarm were at a musical crossroads. Eye Of The Hurricane mixed echoes of the past like “One Step Closer To Home” with new sounds of “Rain In The Summertime”. With a single album, they had revitalized themselves into a force to be reckoned with for the latter half of the 80’s.
The Alarm ended up with very few songs to use for b-sides one singles from Eye Of The Hurricane. Because of this, they were forced to enter the recording studio in October of 1987 to record a few more tracks that IRS could use. This studio time became known as the “Hurricane Sessions”. From the sessions came Dave Sharp’s “My Land Your Land”, a cover of Woodie Guthrie’s “Pastures Of Plenty”, and an early version of “A New South Wales” that was never released. Most notable however, was the song “Elders And Folklore”. IRS wanted a title of a song that they could print on the cover of the “Rescue Me” 12″ single. The band gave IRS the title “Elders And Folklore”, and then started to write the song in the Hurricane Sessions. Before they knew it, “Elders And Folklore” started to shape into pure A-side material. but they couldn’t back out. IRS had printed the record sleeves. “Elders And Folklore” ended up on the single, buried for few people to ever hear. However, the song is well know with the ranks of serious fans as one of the best Alarm songs ever recorded.
December of 1987 saw The Alarm touring the USA once more. They lip synched “Rain In The Summertime” on American Bandstand, and sold-out large concert venues filled with a mixture of old fans and new ones won over by “Rain In The Summertime.” After playing a free, all-acoustic show at The Roxy in Hollywood, they met Elliot Roberts, manager of the club and friend of Bob Dylan. He was extremely impressed by The Alarm, and showed interest in managing them. Pressure within the band led to The Alarm dumping their longtime manager Ian Wilson and replacing him with Roberts. While Roberts was a real mover and shaker in the music world, he did not possess the genuine affection for the band and honest bullshit detection that was so evident in Wilson. Even though Roberts would shower the band with sudden good fortune (a tour with Bob Dylan, friendship with Neil Young, big-name producers), The Alarm would sorely miss their original manager as the 80’s wore on.
After a huge tour to support Eye Of The Hurricane, a support slot with Bob Dylan, and the release of a 6-song live album Electric Folklore Live, The Alarm took a short break before locking themselves away in Welsh castle for nine months to develop new ideas. The band returned in 1989 with a batch of new songs inspired by their gorgeous surroundings in Wales. Wales is “The Land Of Inspiration”, and it was fitting that a band that tried to inspire so many people would be inspired themselves by the very place that most of them grew up. The effect was felt the most by Eddie MacDonald and Mike Peters, who, as full-blooded Welshman, took pride in writing songs about their native land. Sharp and Twist, were not as comfortable with the concept as they let on, but went along with it anyway. The new songs covered many varied topics, but all of them were bound by the idea of “Change”, which became the name of the new album. The songs melded themes of worldwide change (i.e. the accelerating collapse of Eastern Europe), change in the land of Wales itself, change in the people and their attitudes of Wales, and of “Hireath”, a Welshman’s longing to return to his home country.
Looking for an avenue to re-vitalize his own career, Tony Visconti (David Bowie and T-Rex), approached The Alarm to produce their new album. The band expressed the desire to get back to the “true values of rock n’ roll”, a phrase created by Dave Sharp, which meant stripping their music down to the basics. More than simply refusing overdubs, the new idea was to use amps, mixing desks, and other vacuum tube-filled equipment from the 60’s and 70’s to recapture the “live” sound that era. Visconti agreed whole-heartedly, and together they created one of the best sounding records in The Alarm’s catalogue.
The first single from Change, “Sold Me Down The River”, released in September of 1989 was a shock to the radio. With steady rhythm punctuated by breaths of Dave-Sharp’s electric guitar, piano fills, and soaring chorus, it sounded like a song the Rolling Stones would have recorded 20 years earlier. The “back to the basics” approach worked better than anyone could have ever imagined. The song was recorded live, on top of a warehouse, with Mike Peters and Dave Sharp staring down the Deeside river, and it nearly jumped out of the speakers. “Sold Me Down The River” was a modest hit in the UK, reaching #43, and in the USA it reached #1 on the billboard Modern Rock Chart.” Sold Me Down The River” held the precious #1 spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart for nearly 3 weeks in the fall of 1989. While this was a great achievement for The Alarm, it was another instance of bad timing. If they had managed the same feat 2 years later, when Nirvana helped break alternative music into the mainstream, The Alarm would have most likely become a household name. As it was, Dance music dominated the pop charts in 1989, and alternative rock songs were shown a blind-eye by mainstream radio, turning one of The Alarm’s greatest breakthroughs into another “could have been”.
When the Change album was released in September of 1989, it sold rapidly, charging into the #13 spot in the UK, higher than any album since Declaration. At 14 tracks total, Change was quality album with no filler what-so-ever. The single song that made the case for the album was A “New South Wales” a fully orchestrated homage to Wales that Mike Peters had been working on for the better part of three years. The song was a sure-fire hit, reaching #31 on the UK pop charts, the highest they had charted since “Rain In The Summertime”. To lend support to their cause, The Alarm recorded an alternative version of Change named Newid, with all the lyrics sung in Welsh. Instead of mere posturing, The band had started creating change by themselves. Newid was The Alarm’s effort to help bridge the gap between the people of Wales trying to hold onto their own heritage, and those who had fully assimilated in the English culture. They used it to support the “Welsh Language Act”, that would allow Welsh speakers to conduct their government business In their native tongue. Change’s highlights did not stop at “A New South Wales. “. “Hardland”, “Prison without Prison Bars”, “How the mighty Fall” and “Rivers to Cross” all showed that The Alarm could rock while holding onto their folk-inspired roots.
The Alarm toured the USA in 1989 to fanatical and sell-out crowds. Change looked to be the breakthrough album for the band. As 1990 came around, the played a tour of the UK and Europe and pre-paring to return to the USA when tragedy struck. First, Mike Peters sisters was stricken with a brain-aneurysm leaving her unable to speak. Then, soon after, his father died of a heart-attack. If that wasn’t enough, at about the same time Nigel Twist discovered his step-father dead, hanging from a rafter, dead, after committing suicide. Sensing the need to take a real break, The Alarm was put on hiatus, halting all further support of the Change album. A third single, “Love don’t Come Easy” was released from the album, but without a support tour it quickly disappeared from the charts, and radio airwaves.
Dave Sharp used this break to take off to America and get his own solo-career going. At first he took a simple song-writing trip, but it turned into more than he expected. On one of his first nights in New York City, he met a rocking hill-billy band name “The Barnstormers”. After playing a few shows with them, his musical batteries were recharged. He returned to the USA later in 1990 to continue his solo touring, and made plans to record an album as soon as he could make the time in 1991.
The Alarm as a solid unit had been slowly deteriorating since 1986, and by the summer of 1990 the relationship between band members was little more than squabbling and petty feuds. Nigel Twist recalls the summer of 1990 like this: “the honesty and trust which bound The Alarm together and galvanized our efforts from inception was gone”. It was obvious that the band needed a break, yet no one was willing to make the first move, so they went on as usual. The Alarm were working without management at the time, as Elliot Roberts had moved on to more lucrative ground with Tracy Chapman. Without a proper manager to help diffuse the situation, The Alarm were left to their own devices.
Mike Peters, bitten by the tragedy of his sister and father, started re-calculating his feelings about The Alarm. He realized that over the previous 10 years, his priorities had changed drastically. The Alarm began in 1981 as a close-knit unit prepared to take on the world and become the greatest band it had ever witnessed. In 1990 he saw the band trying to adjust into a new decade, using up all their energy attempting to stay together from one day to the next. Not willing to throw it all away just yet, he decided to call the band together for one final shot. Peters envisioned a truly alternative approach for a new album, something that would take the band into the new decade and keep them a vital part of the music world. However, The Alarm were more than just Mike Peters, with 3 other distinct personalities to contend with. Eddie MacDonald was more interested in creating a standard rock album in the vein of earlier Alarm efforts. The solo aspirations of Dave Sharp led he and Nigel Twist to vie for an album of folk and folk-inspired songs with Sharp taking most or all of the lead vocal duties.
The only thing they all agreed upon was producing the album themselves. If they were going to create a definitive Alarm album for the 90’s, it would have their own stamp of creation, or nothing at all. Things started going wildly wrong almost from the beginning of the recording sessions. No conclusion was ever reached as to the direction of the album. Instead of taking the best songs and recording them, like all their previous albums, they divided the song-writing duties down strict lines. There would be 3 songs written primarily by “MacDonald/Peters”, 3 by “Sharp/Twist”, 3 by “The Alarm”, and a cover of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Freeworld”. This sounded fair, but in practice it stifled creativity, and helped create an album that sounded fractured and disjointed. The band members remember the “Raw” sessions in different ways, but they all have a common thread of negativity. Some felt they were horrible and difficult while others saw them as a way for the band to “make a fast buck so that everyone could leave and do their own thing.”
The most telling song recorded for the album was “Moments In Time” . “Moments In Time” was Mike Peters farewell to The Alarm, but even as it was recorded his fellow band-mates didn’t realize its significance. They complained about the lyrics, focusing on what the words said instead of what they really meant. The band members had become so self-absorbed with their own problems, tragedies and personal goals that they lost sight of how The Alarm had started, and where they had been. The allegorical “four horsemen” from “The Stand” taking on the world with an electrifying wave of acoustic punk, refreshing idealism, and pure honesty no longer existed. In its place was a hallow, bitter shell ready to crack at a moments notice. Peters even went as far as playing the song in rehearsal with alternative lyrics clearly stating his intentions to leave the band, but hid effort went wasted and unnoticed. Instead of bringing the band closer together, the Raw sessions only tore them further apart, and this time it could not be repaired.
In Autumn of 1990 IRS records put together an Alarm singles collection named Standards. They wanted a new song the album, and tapped The Alarm for “The Road”, one of the better songs recorded for Raw. IRS was extremely excited about the song, and prepared to back it up with full support and an expensive music video. They wanted The Alarm to tour to support “The Road”, but without a manager to pull the band together they could not get everyone to agree to it. Dave Sharp had already planned a solo tour of America, and recording sessions with famed Dylan producer Bob Johnson, that coincided with the planned tour for “The Road”. The tour and video fell through, and IRS was left with a bitter taste in its mouth for one of its most treasured artists. Their support for The Alarm dwindled away from that point forward.
Raw was released in May of 1991 and quickly hit #33 on the UK album charts before plummeting out of sight. IRS records was still supporting The Alarm’s Standards , and were hard-pressed to fully promote a new album that might cut into the sales of the extremely successful retrospective. In the USA, IRS’s half-hearted promotional effort left the band without a single from Raw (although the title-track was a mild radio-hit), and failed to create any sort of excitement about the band’s return. Several singles were released in the UK, but the b-sides were mostly lackluster, which was a shock for band that prided itself on the extra songs it included on rare and hard to find single releases. Sixty Eight Guns (1983) was one of b-sides, (maybe to promote Standards?) well as a decent but unnecessary demo version of Devolution Working Man Blues from Change. The real gem was a song called Change 1 from the Change recording sessions that was so spectacular, it left fans wondering “what if?”
For all the agony that went into the making the Raw, it was not a total disaster. It was a testament to the power of The Alarm’s music that the album turned out listenable. Along with “Moments In Time”, the other memorable tunes included the sweepingly beautiful of “The Wind Blows Away My Words”, and Dave Sharp’s cynical masterpiece “Wonderful World”. A Welsh version Raw entitled Tan was released in Wales, It included only Macdonald/Peters and songs credited to The Alarm, all the Sharp/Twist songs were replaced Welsh versions of The Road, Unsafe Building 1990, and Happy Christmas (War Is Over).
To support the album, the band embarked on a tour of the USA, Europe, and the UK culminating in a final show, June 30th, at Brixton Academy. The tour had gone amazingly well. The band was in top form, playing a sweaty, blistering set of their best live material night in and out. Fans who had been dismayed by circulating rumors of The Alarm’s imminent demise were re-invigorated by the quality of the live shows. However, it would not last long. The behind-the-scenes feuds continued throughout the entire tour, and by the time the Brixton show arrived Mike Peters had decided to leave the band. Instead of announcing his decision to the papers, or quietly telling his band-mates, he decided to first tell the people that mattered to him most, the fans, even if it meant leaving the rest of the band in the dark until the last possible second. During the show, he substituted the lyrics in “Moments In Time” with more revealing ones, adding “This Is My Swan Song” to the chorus. When the band started playing the final song of the night, “Blaze Of Glory”, Peters told the audience “this is my final moment with The Alarm”. He finished the song, and as the strains of the audience shouted the song’s timeless refrain over and over, he left the stage and The Alarm, the original version for many many years to come.
Mike Peters described it this way in 2020 in episode 12 of “The Big Night In”:
“Anytime when you get to the point in a relationship where you feel unappreciated, like I did, it’s a sign you have to move on. There’s no other way. I didn’t keep the name for myself like I should have done, I just left them with the responsibility. But responsibility doesn’t just come from having a piece of paper, you have to live responsibility, you have to live, breathe, be prepared to die for it, give it up, that’s what I was doing. It’s really hard to be in band when people say ‘we don’t need you to sing the next album Mike’, ‘we don’t want to record your songs any more’ that’s what happened in 1987. It’s really hard to come back from that.”
And so it was, When the final chord of “Blaze Of Glory” was struck that night at Brixton, it spelled the end of the line for The Alarm. Mike Peters jumped into a car immediately after the show and was whisked back to Wales where he stayed out of the public eye for more than 18 months. The rest of the band was shocked and furious. They hadn’t noticed the subtle hints Peters had been sending out, it was all a surprise to them. Since the “Raw” tour had ended, the remaining three split, as Twist put it “to the ends of the earth.”
In the years since all four original members of The Alarm have only been on-stage together once: October 28, 2003 at the London Scala as part of the VH1 TV Show Bands Reunited. But that was not all for The Alarm.
Following Brixton, Dave Sharp toured the USA and the UK with The Barnstormers playing his solo material and a smattering of Alarm songs. He promised fans that he would not let them down, that The Alarm would continue because they still had something left to say. The truth was different. Still angry at the way Peters left the band, he realized why it had happened and that it was really no one’s fault.
The Alarm had been gently picked up in 1981, thrown within the gears of the corporate rock world, used, abused, and then sent packing. He felt sickened by the way the music business treated its artists, especially himself and his fellow band-mates. He saw that Peter’s actions were indicative of a disease the entire band had been suffering from, himself included.
In August 1991, Dave Sharp’s solo album Hard Travelin’ was released on IRS Records. This was the last time any member of The Alarm released music on the IRS label. Hard Travelin’ was a beautiful record, showcasing both Dave Sharp’s song writing abilities as well as his guitar playing. Sharp toured the USA and the UK playing songs from the record all through 1991 and 1992, then payed it quiet for a few years as he planned his next move. Inspired by the dust-bowl ballads of Woodie Guthrie, and the writing of John Steinbeck, Sharp traveled the United States trying to regain his lost sense self definition and spirituality. Except for a brief stint playing rhythm guitar for “Stiff Little Fingers” in 1994, he shunned the electric guitar, in favor of the warmer sound of an acoustic.
By 1996, Sharp was firmly settled in New Orleans, playing several weekly shows at an British ex-patriate bar named “Kerry’s Irish Pub”, basking in the glow of anonymity, and slowly re-charging his batteries. He wrote and recorded a second solo album in 1996 named “Downtown America” filled with electrified folk songs and imagery inspired by Steinbeck’s “The Grapes Of Wrath”. In 1998, he is still living in Louisiana and playing at Kerry’s. After being featured in a local music magazine in September 1997, his cover was blown, and it seemed that most of the local music community was now aware a legend was in their midst. He started playing his songs to larger and larger crowds.
In the early 2000s, Dave Sharp moved back to the UK in an effort to revive his music career. There he recorded songs for couple fan club acoustic albums named “The Summer Of Love Vol 1” and “The Summer Of Love Vol. 2”. A few years later he released two additional fam-club record named Time Travelin’ filled with full band demos from the late 90’s. When fans got ahold of these records and heard songs brilliant songs like Freedom Drive, Love Magic, Sugarland and American Sky, they wondered why he sat on them for so long.
Dave also experimented with band named AOR (Alarm On the Radio) as a way to play songs from his old band with new musicians, but after just a few shows he called it quits In 2019, after nearly 25 years, Dave released an finally released a new album named Spirit Days. In recent years Sharp has been the opening act for Mike Peter’s newly minted version of The Alarm as he continuously plays intimate shows and festivals around the UK. In April 2020, Dave appeared on The Big Night In with Mike Peters and Jules Jones.
The honesty and integrity that were such an important part of The Alarm, are fully embodied in music and actions of Dave Sharp as Dave Sharp takes on the world on his own terms.
Nigel Twist jetted to San Francisco the day after “Brixton”, where he has lived most of his post-Alarm life. He now works as an investigator for the public defender’s office, a job that clearly lives up to the spirit he help create with The Alarm. Twist helped out a friend, Marti Wyman, in 1996 by playing drums, and producing her independent project “Fringe”, but has recorded little else. For the most-part has put his rock and roll life behind him.
He still communicates with fans however, and continues to break down the artist/fan barrier that The Alarm was so adept at. In the 90’s he did this via The Alarm’s daily internet mailing list, and continues to to the same today in Facebook in “The Alarm 30: The Band The Fans The Stories group”. He fields all manner of questions about The Alarm, sometimes with disarmingly frank and amusing answers.
When asked the “$20,000 Question” “Do You ever wish The Alarm would reform?” he replied most poignantly: “I don’t sit around thinking about it. I live in a beautiful part of the world, have a beautiful daughter and probably earn more than rest of the band, but there is always “little Twist” tapping on my shoulder reminding me what it’s like to count in 68 Guns in front of a packed Alarm house! “
Since the late 90’s Nigel Twist has played drums with Mike Peters on-stage as a guest several times, but never in any formal way. In the late 2010’s Twist played drums for the band New American Farmers, and recorded a version of Rain In The Summertime with that band. Twist appeared on The Bug Night In with Mike Peters and Jules Jones in May 2020.
Eddie MacDonald went home to England after “Brixton”, and continued to write music. Aside from playing bass a couple of times as a guest for Dave Sharp, he has performed seldomly on stage since the demise of The Alarm. Instead, he took up another past-time that has led him into a whole new career, photography, selling his work to magazines and doing photo-shoots for up and coming young bands. Eddie MacDonald still has a lot of melodies left in him, and is constantly searching for the right avenue to perform his music. Aside from some soundtrack work, he has not found anything to suit him yet. As for The Alarm, he is ready to talk about them again. In the summer of 1997 he made and uncommon gesture, reaching out to fans for the first time, asking them to submit him questions so he could put his spin into the common history of The Alarm.
Eddie Macdonald joined Mike Peters at his yearly “Gathering” festival in 1997, and from there they started to work together again. Eddie helped Mike with song arrangements and recordings of the album Flash and Blood in 1999, and when Mike decided it was time to reform The Alarm in 2000, Eddie joined-up and played guitar for several shows before calling it quits.
In 2016 Eddie Macdonald resurfaced with band named Small Town Glory and released handful of songs on an EP including a new recording of Third Light. This first version of the band did not feature Eddie on vocals. Eddie soon disbanded that version of the band has created a new version in 2020 with new songs, him him taking vocal duties. and is getting ready to tour and record again. Eddie appeared on Mike and Jules Peter’s Facebook Live video show “The big Night In” in May 2020, and then proceeded to create his won 1/2 hour video show on Facebook live (2 episodes, one for the UK and one for USA) which was received very well. He’s now planning out his next move.
“When I got home from Wales, I just felt this whole weight of responsibility lift of my shoulders, all of a sudden I felt free, the horizons were wide, I didn’t have to answer to anyone else.”
-Mike Peters (Big Night In Ep. 12, 2020)
The painful demise of “The Alarm” sent Mike Peters into seclusion in North Wales. In an old church building, he starting writing songs that were miles away from territory the Alarm had ever treaded upon. He was searching for a new voice, for his voice, the voice he felt he lost while The Alarm thundered through the 80’s. By the Spring of 1992 he felt he had found it. Rounding up some session musicians, Peters rehearsed his new material, and set out to tour the UK. Wanting to let Alarm fans know about his new venture, Peters got a hold of the “Alarm Fan Club” member roster and sent each person a post card announcing his new tour. The fan reaction was mixed. Many were still angry at Peters for leaving The Alarm, but a good portion welcomed him, and were curious to see what he had been doing for more than a year. He toured the UK, and America as “Mike Peters And The Poets Of Justice” , taking down the names of every fan he could possibly find. Armed with this list he started his own self-funded fan-club named The Michael Peters Organization, or MPO for short.
Peters invited select fans to Abbey Road studios where he and this new band “The Poets” for a recording session where 15 newly minted tracks were recorded live. This sessions was released in 1997 as the Abbey Road Sessions. Some new songs, like “Refugees In The Westworld” and “Unstoppable”, have only ever made their appearance on this CD.
When Christmas 1992 rolled around, Peters put The MPO to good use. He invited everyone on his roster to Rhyl, Wales for a weekend-long celebration of the music of Mike Peters and The Alarm. He called this event “The Gathering”. The idea was to have all the fans “come on tour” and let Mike stay at home. The idea was a huge success. At the 2nd gathering in 1993, Mike Peters played a full-set of acoustic songs for the first time. He described the experience like this:
“The Twenty One song Friday night acoustic show proved to be a revelation to many, myself included. I learnt a lot about myself that night, the songs from my back pages sounded fresher than ever and set the seal for me to be able to celebrate the past alongside the future.”
The acoustic night of The Gathering has now been part of the event as late as 2020. The Gathering was moved to the nearby town of Llandudno in 1995 because the demand for tickets and hotel rooms was so great. It has since moves to bigger and bigger venues. The Last Gathering, The Gathering 2020, took place at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales.
As Mike Peters continued the Alarm tradition of a close knit fan/artist relationship, he also continued their tradition towards music. In 1994, his first solo recording showed up in the UK. The bare-naked single “Back Into The System” was followed closely by the more straight-ahead sweep of “It Just Don’t Get Any Better Than This”. The two singles firmly showed where Peters was musically at that time. Experimental electronic sounds and ambient feedback led the way into crashing guitars, and uncommon rhythms. Like The Alarm, No two songs sounded the same, yet they were all unified with a common spirit that bound them together. The lyrics were more cynical, yet more clearly defined than any he had written in the latter Alarm years. The sound may have been too different for many Alarm fans, but the truth was, Mike Peters wasn’t trying to re-tread his old material. His integrity led him down a path of musical exploration, and those who took the ride with him were in for some wonderful music ahead. A remix version of “It Just Don’t Get Any Better Than This” called “No Better Than This (remix)” was recorded, but it did not see the light of day until the retrospective The Best Of The Alarm And Mike Peters was released in 1998.
By the end of 1994, Mike Peters released his first solo album named Breathe in Crai records. The album was recorded in May as and was chronicled by Jules Peters in her Breathe Recording Diary :
” The day is spent experimenting with sound. Chris is a perfectionist. He has excellent ears. His set-up consists of Orange Amps, Vox AC30 and a cluster of guitars: Gibson, Fender, Takamine…The Les Paul axes furiously through the song. Feedback is tendered lovingly. “
The title track was a spectacular, life-affirming song with guitar sounds that harkened back to The Alarm, but with a sophistication that showed a growth both musically and lyrically. The album contained other highlights including the guitar fireworks of “A Beautiful Thing”, the foreboding beauty of “21st Century”, and an amazing cover of Grand Master Flash’s “The Message”. The album was also released in Welsh under the name Aer.
Peters toured the UK and Europe on the Scattered Across This Land Tour (reference from the new song Levi’s And Bibles) with the independently released Breathe through the end of 1994 and into 1995. In early 1995 Mike Peters published a diary about 1994 called “Gathering To Gathering Diary (1993-1994)” in the MPO 21st Century Fanzine. It was the first time he spoke candidly about the process of recording and playing music. It would not be the last. Peter’s also released an acoustic version of the Breathe album on his own record label, named Breathe The Acoustic sessions. Catalog number 21c001, the album would be the first of over 100 (and counting) releases from that independent label christened as 21st Century Records.
After signing with a small record label in the United States, Peters was prepared to release a modified version of Breathe in that country as well, when fate took over. A persistent a lump in his throat finally got him to a doctor who ran some tests, more tests, and still more tests. The result was a diagnosis of “Lymphoma”, an extremely dangerous and often fatal cancer of the lymph nodes. Peters was completely shattered. He kept the diagnosis secret from his fans, and decided to fight against impossible odds to beat the disease. Struck by reverie about the past, The Alarm started to gain more and more importance to him again. Peters contacted the Alarm’s old manager, Ian Wilson, who quickly suggested that he reform The Alarm.
He refused to cancel tour dates, so his UK tour, went on as planned. Fans noticed a marked increase of Alarm songs in his sets to the point where he was playing little if any solo material. What fans didn’t know was that Peters had made motions to get The Alarm back together. He had written a new song for the reconciliation named “Down The Road” that was supposed to be the first song of a new era for The Alarm. The song formed final chapter in the musical trilogy that began with “Sixty Eight Guns”, continued through “Spirit Of ’76” and now ended with an incredible homage to old friendships, and the promise of the future.
Mike reconnected with The Alarm’ s old manager who told him “Mike you’ve only got one life, you need to become The Alarm again, That is who you are”.
Peters had phoned Twist, Sharp and MacDonald with an offer to reform the band, but it was ultimately refused. It was still too early after the shock of “Brixton”. The song Down The Road did not surface until 1998 on the album “The Best Of The Alarm And Mike Peters”
“That sort of started all the moves to try and reunite the band in the 90’s. We almost put the band together, but it never happened mainly I think because Dave was committed to his album Downtown America”
-Mike Peters (Big Night In Ep. 12, 2020)
All the problems that existed in 1991 still existed in 1995. Disappointed but unfazed, Peters decided to continue on himself, and salute his past believing it might be the last time would have a chance to do so. He recorded a new album of reimagined Alarm b-sides named Second Generation Vol. 1 that proved to his fans once and for all where his heart was at the moment, even if they were not keen to the truth about his affliction. Ian Wilson, now Mike’s manager again after 8 years was particularly fond of the song The Peace Train/Chant:
“I’m particularly into ‘The Peace Train/Chant’ ‘cos I remember the way Mike first played me ‘The Chant’ which really was the companion for ‘The Stand’ in my mind…Somehow ‘The Chant’ as it came to be recorded back in London was swamped with the new technologies of the day, fairlights et al., and never captured again the promise and spirit of the Artist who wrote it. Mike and Dave’s musical roots were no longer in that version. ‘Second Generation’ is an essential record for all of us because it helps us understand the soul of The Alarm, “
Much to the chagrin of his doctors, Peters toured the USA in December of 1995. He kept in close contact with them, knowing he would start chemotherapy on his return to Wales. Then something unexpectedly wonderful happened. A doctor in the UK reviewed his case, and was convinced that Peters did not have Lymphoma, but a disease that mocked it in nearly every way, except being cancerous. After another doctor confirmed his diagnosis, Peters’ prayers were answered. Filled with a new vitality, he immediately secured space at Fort Apache studios in Boston to start recording a new album. The first song he recorded was one of the best he had ever written. “Regeneration” was pure explosion of life-affirming energy and power. It chronicled his recent fight for survival and the incredible relief he felt once the weight of impending doom had been lifted.
At the same time in 1995, Eddie MacDonald, Dave Sharp and Nigel Twist met each other in San Francisco to see if they could make one last ditch to attempt to continue The Alarm as a trio. For a while it was like “Brixton” had occurred the day before, without five years in-between. However, the euphoria of a near-Alarm re-union did not last long. It became clear that the commitment was not there at moment for any sort of new and lasting partnership. Dave Sharp had a two-year plan in place for the recording and touring of Downtown America, while Twist and MacDonald needed to return to their real-world jobs. They split their separate ways again, but with a re-kindled spirit that The Alarm might one-day rise from the ashes of 1991.
Re-invigorated, Mike Peters switched to high gear in early 1996 and has not down-shifted since. After finally announcing his cancer-scare to his fans at The Gathering IV In January 1996, he returned to the USA for a tour and to finish recording his new album Feel Free. He continued to play acoustic Alarm songs, but began to gradually replace them with his own new Material. In the fall of 1996, Feel Free was released in the United States, Canada and Europe. Because of distribution and promotion problems, very few copies of the album were made available in the USA, but the same was not true in the UK and Europe. Catapulted by glowing reviews from major Newspapers and magazines, Feel Free became a minor hit, selling over 30,000 copies with very little airplay, and almost no promotion. Mike Peters was back on his own two-feet again, with a thriving solo career. When asked how close he was in 1995 to reforming The Alarm, his answer was “very close”, but in 1996, the answer was “very very far”.
In the summer of 1996 Mike Peters received a most unexpected phone call from Eddie MacDonald. Recent life-experiences had made the ex-Alarm bassist realize that his life-long friendship with Peters was more important than any ill-feelings that might remain from the break-up of The Alarm. The two quickly re-built their friendship, and have expressed interest in writing songs together again. Peters invited MacDonald as a special guest at The Gathering 6 in 1997. The festival audience went absolutely nuts when they saw the two together on-stage again. It would be a long time before many who had witnessed the event could forget the thundering chant of “Eddie Eddie Eddie…” that greeted Macdonald as he took the stage for his two song stint. The pair made plans for the future, but there was other business to take-care of first.
Also in 1997, Mike Peters acquired the domain names “thealarm.com” and “mikepetersweb,com” He has been running his own web site the the MPO at “http://www.demon.co.uk/alarmpo” since 1995, but with the name “thealarm.com” and “mikepetersweb.com” he began plotting the future of his musical career. The year prior in 1997, he launched his first ecommerce web site so he could being selling CDs and merchandise directly to fans online. It was one of the first independent ecommerce web sites for any rock band on the internet.
Released in early 1998, Rise has been called Mike Peters’ best solo album, comprised of some of the best songs he wrote in the 90’s. The album is highlights with songs like “High On The Hill”, “White Noise Part 2” “Ground Zero” and “The Wasting Land” and the title track, “Rise”, which was released as a promo radio single. The album also included a song named “In Circles” written with Billy Duffy from the Cult (who also played guitar on several other tracks), and serves as a hint as to what was to come next. The songs White Noise Pt, III (Snake bit Mix) and The Message (Mess-Age mix), both bonus tracks on the UK releases, were shopped around to club DJs who had a positive response, but this avenue did not lead to any lasting impact.
In 1998 Mike Peters joined up with Billy Duffy from The Cult to form a band named ColourSound which also include Craig Adams (The Mission) on bass, James Stevenson (Generation X, Gene Love Jezebel) on guitar, and Johnny Donnelly (The Saw Doctors) on drums. They released a 4-track demo that included a brilliant song named Under The Sun, then showcased at South By South West and the Viper Room before that sparking massive record company interest.
In 1999 They recorded more demos with Bob Rock, came back to London to play a sold-out showcase and then…nothing. ColourSound eventually released an album on VelVel records, and it sold okay, but it was like the air had been let-out of the balloon. Rumor has it that Ian Ashbury attended the London show and immediately decided to reform The Cult, making sure Billy Duffy could not continue his partnership with Mike Peters. Subsequently, a ColourSound Boxed-set was released by the MPO containing the full album, tons of demos and acoustic performances. For many Alarm fans who remember this era, it seemed like a huge missed opportunity. However, there was one lasting impact from ColourSound : Mike Peters found some solid new band-mates in Craig Adams (bass) and James Stevenson (guitar), who would go on to support him for the next 20 years.
Besides Coloursound, there were a couple interesting releases for The Alarm in 1999. In May for the first time in many years, a NEW record by The Alarm was released. The King Biscuit Flower Hour, a live recording of The Alarm from a radio show recorded at the Paradise Theater in Boston in 1983 was released on CD. It was magnificent record of vintage Alarm music being played live.
“As a live show, this CD is highly entertaining. As a historic document it provides amazing insight into one of the 80’s best live bands. As an album it is thoroughly enjoyable and gets my highest recommendation“
-Steve Fulton (thealarm.com)
Also in 1999, a strange bootleg showed-up online named thealarm.change.demos. It was 2-Cd collection of early demos for the 1989 album Change. Not only did it include versions of most of the songs from Change, but also songs like Take Me Home, which became “Moments In Time” on the Raw album, and never released songs like “I Am What I Am” sung by Eddie Macdonald. Curiously, Mike Peters seized the opportunity to not only stop production of the CD, but since he had recently acquired the right the the Alarm catalog through EMI, re-release the bootleg on his own label, 21st Century in it’s original form.
Even more curiously, not too soon after thealarm.chagen.demos mysteriously appeared as bootleg then an official release, an album named mikepeters.rise.demos showed-up in the MPO online store. A 2-CD collection of demos and acoustic takes from the Rise album, the cover was stylistically similar to the previous bootleg, even featuring a shot of Mike Peters in front of the same building that graced cover.
“Following on from the success of ‘thealarm.change.demos’, MPO is proud to
announce the release of “mikepeters.rise.demos’. This special double CD is being released in response to the demand from you, the MPO, and your thirst for rarities, previously unreleased tracks and an overview of the whole songwriting process.”
-MPO Press Release
The last track on the 2nd CD was a song named “Break Bread With Me”, written by Peters as a song to bury the hatchet with his former bandmates and reform The Alarm. It was his 2nd attempt, after “Down The Road” to repair his relationships through music. Unfortunately, it proved just as successful as the first attempt. The song was eventually released as “True Life” on the 2004 album “In The Poppy Fields”.
Flesh And Blood
In late 1999 Mike Peters was approached by playwright Helen Griffen about a project she was working on a production named Flesh And Blood Flash And Blood was the story of working class Welsh family. Griffen wanted an original rock soundtrack for the play production, and Mike Peters took on the role of writing , arranging and recording the music. Peter enlisted Eddie Macdonald to help him with the production and the album was recorded Dec. 3 and 5th, 1999. The album contained a number of great songs including Flesh And Blood, Lucky Numbers with echoes of The Who, and Working Class Heroine. The play production ran in the first part of 2000, and has a modest hit.
Just after the Flash And Blood recording in December 1999, Mike Peters brought Eddie along for a support tour with Big Country. It was the first time Eddie had been on regularly stage in almost decade. The pair felt ready to launch The Alarm again for the 21st Century With Eddie Macdonald back in the fold, the turn of the millennium seemed like a perfect time to repair the past. Peter tried to get the original band members together for The Millennium Gathering (Gathering 8) to reform the band. However, Nigel Twist and Dave Sharp did not want to reform at a “Mike Peter’s event” and so the moment was lost. Instead of the original band, Mike Peters his “all star” band (Generation X’s James Stevenson on guitar, The Mission’s Craig Adams on bass and Stiff Little Fingers’ Steve Grantley on drums) to perform the Alarm’s Greatest hits. They did not know it at the time, but this was the moment “The Alarm 2000” was born.
But there was more than just a new band playing old Alarm songs. Mike Peters had secretly spent months in 1999 digging through the IRS Records archives collecting all known master tapes of the the original 1981-1991 recordings.
“I’ve been working on this whole Alarm collection now for a number of years. I started about 3 years ago, started making the first approaches to get all the catalogue back under our own control. It took a lot of hard work and I’ve been all over the world scouring master tapes and all that kind of thing and I had to do a lot of detective work to find a lot of them cause IRS records, our record label <I>(laughs from the audience)</I>. Yes I know, I can hear the laughs there. They were a bit of a joke, but a lot of it was that IRS had a policy they never made copies
-Mike Peters, Alarm 2000 Day
His plan was to remaster everything and release a massive boxed set on his own 21st Century Records label. His plan was even bolder than that. This boxed-set, The Alarm 2000 Collection was unprecedented. Unlike other record industry boxed sets that were more like odds and ends in expensive packaging, this would be a complete songography of the band. And there was more. Each Boxed-Set includes a completely, original, one-off acoustic song and dedication chosen by the buyer. A web page at thealarm.com was set-up where the set could be purchased an a dedication could be added. This ,very well, may have been the first uniquely customized music product ever created and sold online. Mike Peters announced the boxed at the Millennium Gathering, and recorded the first dedication live during one of the sets. The moment would have been sweeter if it also included the original band reformed, but instead that ship sailed away into the night (almost) never to return.
However, the big move for The Alarm came in 2000 when Big Country came calling again with a support slot later for the Big Country Tour 2000, and Mike Peters was only too happy to sign-up for a slew of dates in April 2000. Since the Gathering was not the right venue Mike Peters thought hat support tour with Big Country might be the perfect chance to reform the band. With Eddie on-board he reached out to Dave Sharp and Nigel Twist once again, but was shot-down. Dave Sharp just did not want to go head with it, and Nigel Twist would not do it if Dave didn’t do it. Instead, Mike and Eddie decided to reform as “The Alarm A.D.” (After Dave) However, dates were announced for May as an “electric tour” . A promoter coined the name “The Alarm 2000” and it stuck. It appeared that “The Alarm” were back and the Macdonald/Peters songwriting duo were poised to take-on the world once-more.
But nothing was clear or easy about The Alarm 2000. It was a confusing time for fans of The Alarm. The internet still in it’s infancy, was filled with rumors of what was happening with the band. The “reunion” fans had wanted for so long appeared to be within reach, yet there was no official word. Fans were mot aware that Mike had made the overture to get the band together for the Millennium Gathering, only to have the idea rejected .
Dave Sharp had since moved back to the UK and was performing with a band named “The Hard Travelers” . An Autumn 2000 tour named the “New Clear Age Tour”, with an album named “New Clear Age” (never released) to follow. Dave put out a press release on March 23rd, 2000 saying the following about The Alarm:
“I feel it is time once again to address recent rumors concerning upcoming Alarm projects. Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, I shall be unable to take part in Alarm 2000, nor shall I be able to appear on the road with Big Country and The Alarm. I am a heartfelt fan and supporter of Big Country and I wish Stuart and the boys every success, both on the road and in the studio.“
Online on the Alarm Mailing List Digest (a Google Group dedicated to The Alarm started as a mailing list in 1993 by Steve Varty), Nigel Twist had a lot to say about it. He called the Alarm 2000 “Alarm Karaoke” and when asked by fans if he had ever listened to any of Mike’s solo songs, Twist replied something to effect of “no, but if they were good they would be in that charts”.
Furthermore, after just a few shows, Eddie Macdonald quit The Alarm 2000, citing exhaustion and self-consciousness from not performing for so long.
But Mike Peters carried on.
On May 28th, 2000, at the end of the Big Country tour was special show named The Alarm 2000 Day, at which Mike Peters spent hours paying songs by The Alarm and telling forgotten stories about the band.
“Taking breaks into account, Mike was onstage for around nine hours, although
the stage changed location as he took us outside for the Eye Of The
Hurricane section. Musical highlights were many – snippets of Take Me Home
and Alarm Alarm, a beautiful Welsh language version of A New South Wales,
Rain In The Summertime sung outdoors under threatening skies – and a
surprising high point when he stood back and simply played the CD of the
fabulous “”new”” electric version of One Step Closer. It received the loudest
cheer of the day, and rightly so. As a toast to absent friends, it couldn’t
-Shaun Finnie (May 30, 2000)
The show was a way to promote The Alarm 2000 boxed-set, but it became more. It was a coming-out party for the modern-day version of The Alarm. Mike Peters was putting a cap on the past, while the recent tour showed what was next. The future was written at that point. Mike Peters was no longer a solo artist. Coloursound with Billy Duffy gave him a taste of what it was like to be in a real band again, and The Alarm would be that band even if he was the only remaining original member.
The advent of The Alarm 2000 sent shock-waves through the online The Alarm community . Friends who were friends for years fought wars of words with one another, arguments abounded about what exactly The Alarm was, and if Mike Peters could just “be” The Alarm without the other members. The friendly Alarm community that build-up over the previous decade became a civil war. Factions took sides. Some people were happy The Alarm were back in “any” form, while others missed the sound of Dave Sharp playing guitars. Still others wanted to hear songs written by Macdonald/Peters. Fingers were pointed, conspiracies abounded.
“I had run a Dave Sharp web site for six years alongside TheAlarm.com, and even featured Dave Sharp news on The Alarm.com alongside news of Mike Peters and Coloursound. However, after The Alarm 2000, some fans got nasty. I was accused of ‘being up Mike’s arse’, and then Dave Sharp’s official web site people told me that I wasn’t allowed to put up his news any longer. It devastated me. I was fan of everyone, yet certain factions of fans made it impossible for me to stay neutral. I sided with Mike Peters in total after that.”
-Steve Fulton (webmaster of TheAlarm.com 1996-2011)
The controversy continued as Mike Peters/The Alarm 2000 embarked on an American tour. Energetic and excited promoters were only too happy to bill the band as simply “The Alarm”. which upset Nigel Twist.
“Drummer Nigel Twist of the Alarm said he plans to file an injunction to keep the band’s former front man, Mike Peters, from touring under the Alarm’s name. “
-LiveDaily.com October 20th, 2000
It was especially irksome to Twist because many promotional photos for the tour included images of the original band, not The Alarm 2000 and he felt that promoters were being disingenuous. Twist went to to tell Rob Evans of LiveDaily.com “It’s one of those errors of convenience “It’s a little like someone giving you a big hug while reaching for your wallet.”
It was a harrowing time for Peters as well, who had started the year with the intention of reforming the original band, only to have it fall apart just as he was promoting The Alarm 2000 Collection, an ambitious project that would benefit everyone involved in the original incarnation. He vowed to continue as The Alarm 2000. For the fans who saw the shows on the tour, the new band was legendary. Peters/Adams/Stevenson/Grantly were a well oiled rock and roll machine that could pretty much tear-up any stage at any time any where. No, they were not the original band, but as a reincarnation, they were sight to behold.
On lighter note, Mike Peters started another band in 2000 inspired by Craig Adams his new bass player who was a member of The Mission. The Mission released a “glam” parody record in the 80’s named The Metal Gurus, this continued in 2000 with The Children of The Revolution, who played a surprise show at The Millennium Gathering, and then a headliner July 2000 in Reading with Wayne Hussey from The Mission, who led a similar band with The Mission in the 80’s named The Metal Gurus. Children of The Revolution or “the Rev” as they were known created a phony back-story, and recorded an album of glam covers including one brand-new song, “All Around The World It’s Christmastime”
Mike Peters started 2001 with a bang, coming out of the gates at The Gathering 9 with a full band named “The Alarm 2001” during the Saturday night “electric” show. The Friday Night January 12th acoustic concert featured a batch of brand-new songs, including one named “The Innocent Party” that sounded very much like a musical response to the legal actions Nigel Twist had taken the previous year during the USA tour. Peters subsequently embarked on European and USA tours with The Alarm 2001, with a stop at the SXSW Festival in Austin for an acoustic set to a packed house. He also released 3-CD package of the previous year’s gathering named “The Millennium Gathering”
At the same time, Dave Sharp began 2001 by returning to the USA for tour and residency at the Kerry Irish Pub In New Orleans. The set-up a rather momentous moment in the history of The Alarm, in which Mike Peters entered the domain of his ex-bandmate for a visit. It was described this way on TheAlarm.com:
“En route back from Austin, Texas, Mike Peters stopped off in New Orleans to spend time with his guitar hero, Mr. Dave Sharp. Mike joined Dave at the infamous Kerry Bar and during Dave’s first set, Mike was invited to join Dave on stage to sing vocals on Credence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Run through the Jungle’, followed by a return later in the evening for a rendition of Hank Williams songs. “
Rumor has it that there was a closed-doors meeting back stage at this show in which Dave Sharp and Mike Peters buried the hatchet once and for all. With Eddie Macdonald’s tacit OK and Dave Sharp’s verbal agreement, Mike Peters felt he had the proper support to launch straight ahead into a new era for The Alarm. The Alarm 2001 continued throughout the year on the “Second Generation Tour” and even offered a custom CD of each performance calling the service the “Second Generation Tour Custom CD Collection”
Later in 2001, Mike Peters started another ambitious project named Dead Men Walking, a “Supergroup” Mike Peters put together starting in 2001 to make a mockery of ageism in the record business and show that old punk rockers could put on an amazing performance. The first version of band included Mike Peters, Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Pete Wylie (Mighty Wah!), Kirk Brandon (Theater Of Hate). They played their first show March 27th, 2001 at The Loft in Aberdeen, then went off to play dozens of dates throughout 200d, released a live recording named “Dead Men Walking Live at Guildford”, and even wrote and recorded a song for the Special Olympics named “To The End” for TV show named Tune Teams.
Mike Peters ended the year by releasing a bunch of CDs including a 2-disc set of demos and outtakes from the Strength album named “alt.strength” (Released as part of The Alarm Record Collector’s Club), and a live CD Combo called of The Alarm MM (another name for new band) “Greatest Hits Live”, 3-CD set named Coloursound Complete, and greatest hits package of Mike Peters solo songs named Collected Works.
- Resistance Tour
- In The Poppy Field Bond… (2002, 2003)
- Bands Reunited
“I was playing a gig with dead men walking, we were at the gig sound checking and the next minute a VH1 camera crew burst in. they said ‘Mike we want you to reform The Alarm’ and I was like ‘The Alarm already exists”
-Mike Peters (Big Night In Ep. 12, 2020)
- In The Poppy Fields Album… (2004)
- 45 RPM Saga (2004)
- Under Attack…(2006)
- Counterattack Collective (2007)
- Guerilla Tactics… (2008)
- Direct Action… (2010)
- Sound And The Fury…(2011)
- Vinyl (2012)
- Big Country The Journey (2013)
- Declaration 2014
- The Scriptures (2015)
- Strength 2015
- Blood Red…(2017)
- Viral Black (2017)
- The Jack Tars/Dead Men
- Equals (2018)
- Sigma (2019)
- Upstream/Downstream (2019)
- Big Night In (2020)
- ColourSound Returns (2020)
- Time (2020)
- History Repeating (2021)
Within Mike Peters in 2020 lies the full-extent of what The Alarm once stood for. His music is at once honest, intelligent and sincere. He expertly mixes classic sounds with new ones to create his own brand of music. With the MPO he has created the ultimate bridge between fan and artist, improving on the relationship that The Alarm was so proud of creating. Mike Peters has an incredible lust for life that feeds his insatiable desire to write, record and play music. He has clearly set himself up to be a vital and important artist into the 21st Century.
The Legacy Of The Alarm Re-Visited
The legacy of The Alarm can be summed up in “Down The Road” which may become, in spirit, the final “Alarm” song ever recorded. “Are You The Hero, Or The Villain Of Your Own Destiny?” asks Mike Peters in the final line before the accelerated chorus that ends the song with an intensity akin to The Alarm at their creative peak. This may be the final word for The Alarm, and if so, it is an appropriate one. The line at once, points forward, and looks back. The Alarm as a band may be finished inspiring people, but those people continue to live on and hopefully were inspired in some way by the songs and lyrics. Tragedy and bad timing may have stymied The Alarm’s commercial success, but this may have been a blessing in disguise. A massive hit on the pop-charts and all the pressures and expectations that go along with it could have destroyed the band early-on and turned them into a joke. For what it is worth, The Alarm stayed true to their ideals right until the end, went out literally in a “Blaze Of Glory” and slipped in the realm of the truly legendary.
So what is the legacy of The Alarm?. It is the inspiration that engulfed listeners who were overcome by the power of their songs. It is in the fans who still sing every word of every song at any chance can get: whether it is seeing one of their heroes perform live, hearing them on the radio, or simply blasting from their own personal stereo. It is the music, timeless and classic, that to millions will be revered and never forgotten.