A lot of people are going to be put off the The Alarm, either because of their silly hair, or their rah-rah idealism. Those people are wrong. The Alarm are big. The Alarm are important. And on their new album Declaration (I.R.S.) is not only good, it's going to be the next major crossover on the order of U-Know-Who. Of course The Alarm do have silly hair, but I think that it's a manifestation of their philosophical outlook and their music. The Alarm are a combination of punk power and hippie idealism. And so is their hair. 'Nuff said.
While a lot of bands have tried to combine the '60s and '70s, none of them have been as successful as The Alarm. Musically, their secret is that they draw on Punk and then temper it with an acoustic sound while avoiding the wimpiness usually associated with folk. Lyrically, it works because they avoid Punk nihilism and concentrate more on positive personal politics. My only problem there is that many songs are about "us vs. them" without ever defining who "them" is. But when The Alarm's influences come together with a resounding clash, the results (and the bottom line) are great songs. The winner is the refurbished "Marching On," slowed down a bit, but with a new twist: Dave Sharp's Townshend-like acoustic guitar playing. There are others "68 Guns" is old to us but will run over A.O.R. and MTV ears, "We Are The Light," "Blaze of Glory" and the awesome set-closer "Howling Wind," which wraps up The Alarm's philosophy as neatly as "Marching On" declares it. This is rock and roll at its very finest and U2, R.E.M. and the rest are going to have to work very hard to top it.
P.S. I still don't like their hair!!!
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This document HTMLized 14 August 2001
I was listening to Ryan Adams -- Gold