Friday, April 16, 2010

The Alarm & Bob Dylan: Knockin' on Heaven's Door

"...The reason I played the acoustic guitar and the harmonica in The Alarm was because of Dylan."
Mike Peters

We've been discussing Dylan's accomplices and interpreters from within the punk fold, so let us not miss The Alarm. The Alarm, from Rhys, Wales, began as a punk band named the Toilets before morphing into mod-punk band 17 (whose one single has more hooks than some band's Greatest Hits' albums) and then becoming something different altogether. Despite often getting lumped in with U2, with whom they shared a manager, a religious persuasion as well as a fierce devotion to bombast and mullets, The Alarm cut their own path. Certainly their kinship with the U2 must be noted but overall such a flip write-off does violence to the band's hard-strumming acoustic anthems, which also suggest an amalgam of '65 Dylan, '75 Springsteen and '79 Clash.

The band did end up as Dylan's opening band in the early days of the so-called Never Ending Tour and front man Mike Peters often joined the man on "Knockin' on Heaven's Door".

Today's offering is a bootleg copy of the Alarm's first single from 1981 that I payed dearly for during a mad rush to own all their records many, many years ago. On the 'electric side', "Unsafe Building" does evince some U2-ish tendencies but the 'acoustic side's' "Up For Murder" is a skiffle-punk rave-up.

Unsafe Building link in the comments

Speaking of comments Give us your take on The Alarm?

(the original cover)
Support the band!


Thanks to CallPastorBob for the scans.



  2. They seem to split opinion, but I've always been impressed with them. They are playing soon locally, but it's in a very small club and sold out pretty quick.
    Last time I seen them they were supporting the Damned and it was an accomplished performance. Full of passion and fire. The Damned really had to pull it out of the bag to follow them.
    Mike Peters plays in Los Mondo Bongo
    They played the nighte before SLF here in Scoptland, but I couldn't afford to go to both gigs. Hopefully I'll catch them next time around, or maybe when Mike goes on the road with Dead Men Walking. It's been a while since I seen them. The last time the line up was Mike, Slim Jim, Capt Sensible and Kirk Brandon. TV Smith was the support act6. Now that was a great night.

  3. Two words regarding that Seventeen single: Post it!

  4. Whatever crap they might have put out after it, The Stand alone makes the Alarm ok in my books! W.

  5. I always had mixed up the Alarm with the San Francisco band the Call. Thus, after posting the Call a few weeks ago at my shared blog, downunderground, I start seeing Alarm related posts almost like they are intricately related these two bands!! Now you put the picture together entirely in this post--so that's where G n' R get's their inspiration to cover that Dylan tune and how cool is that that Roky Erickson's influence at the time was Bob Dylan...a Minnesotan like me:>}

  6. Well how about that the icing on the cake to my fuel-to-the-fire post of the San Francisco band Call after posting their neighbor the Patrol on my shared blog DownUnderground because now that I see this I remember I always mixed the two bands up..the Call and the Alarm. I think Longy at Punk Friction blog's buddy Markydread just posted 'em too (the Alarm). Thanks quite excellent your head's up collecting. Like me a real head about it:>}

  7. I have been following your blog for a while and it is great to see this post about my favorite band. I have seen the Alarm too many times to count over the past 25 years. They are still very active today (well, at least Mike Peters as he is the only original member but he has put together a fine lineup). The band just released a new album this week ("Direct Action"). Check out their website to see all they have been up to over the years.

  8. They were one of my favourite bands at one stage - 86-87?
    They lost me when they put out that album after Eye of The Hurricane(which deserved the U2 clone title, The Clash influence had been totally replaced). I can't even remember the albums name. I've heard good things about their recent albums but I'm scared to try them.

    I played their Strength album a few months back and apart from a few songs, it didn't seem to hold up. Declaration was a different story though. It was always in the sale bins here in the 80's and that's why I first picked it up on cassettte.

  9. Get the recent album it's brilliant stuff and you wn't regret it!

  10. it's a
    I'm extremely jealous of you!. Thanks for adding some infor on Mike Peter's current workload!

    It's available digitally si I'm hesitant.

    Yeah I chose that video because I do think that song best exemplifies the Alarm Sound.

    Yeah The Call and The Alarm are linked in my mind despite their geographical separation. They were both earnest, rootsier, quasi-Christian rock that gained exposure via U2.

    NJ Phil
    As you can see from the follow-up I've been really digging their new stuff. You're lucky to have seen them so much, if they get cxlose to me on their North American tour this summer I should really go see them.

    I worked at liking "Eye of the Hurricane" but it sorta did me in. I really didn't care for "Change" the almost bluesier follow-up either. I'll try some re-listening myself.
    I hoped you checked some of the new songs I posted as a follow-up.

    Good call, I really wouldn't have counted upon Mike Peters to be such a keeper of the punk flame but maybe I should have paid more attention to "Spirit of '76".

  11. Always preferred The Alarm to U2. Loved 68 Guns. But, I'm interested to hear their earlier incarnation as 17.

  12. Yeah, I checked out the new stuff. It appears it is time for me to give the new version of the band another go.

  13. Mr. Sauve
    there's a directness to The Alarm (musically and lyrically) that makes their albums more listenable than U2's - I do appreciate the early work of U2 but I rarely listen to their albums.

    Happy to have made someone reconsider an old band's new stuff - the new album is the best of a good lot.

  14. Song for song, the Alarm should have been bigger than U2. Mike Peters is brilliant and I wish him a long happy life. Seems like a good guy. Maybe that's why the good Lord has taken care of him thru all this. Can't wait for his next project.

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Hmmm, a dead link. Bummer. I have always wondered if the version on the best of was a re-recording, it sounds more like it was from the Strength sessions period, much more advanced than the pre-1st album stuff I have heard.

    Anyway, thank you for an amazing site, I am perusing and will comment as much as I can.

    And yes, I am one of those folks who support the artist, but want the stuff you can't get from the official releases as well.

  17. Anon

    Yup Mike Peters is a survivor.

    I guess someone removed the link, strange considering that this is a bootleg 7" but there you have it.
    Glad you're finding good stuff that IS here, like the Joe Jackson.

  18. The Alarm, one of my all time faves! I follow the band and Mr. Peters for almost 30 years now and considering the amount of releases it's unbelievable that only a few tracks aren't that great. I always thought they were closer to The Clash or The Who maybe; never understood the comparisons with U2 apart for a few songs.

    What's really enjoyable is Mike Peters fronting Big Country right now; they even consider recording new material!

    Right now, celebrating 30 years of The Alarm they have a new album out. It features re-recordings of some lesser known songs. It's on the way so I can't say what it sounds like but it got great reviews.

    If you get a chance to see Mike Peters play in any outfit, go there! He's one of the best performers I've ever seen. Sadly he hasn't been to Germany in recent years.

    Carry on promoting him an posting stuff, these are the real British talents!

    Tom, Germany

  19. Tom
    Yeah I'd see Mike in ay form (Alarm, solo or Big Country). The new album sounds good too.

  20. The Alarm

    Deserve much wider recognition

    Great records, even better live

    Thanks for the downloads

  21. Phil
    thanks for the comments! And yes The Alarm deserved a helluva lot more.


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