The Alarm - 'Majority' (The Twenty First Century Recording Company) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Dom Daley   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 04:00

MAJORITY CD COVER largeIn vogue in the past few years has been the reissue; or the deluxe reissue; or the re-recorded reissue. Far be it for me to suggest that bands like Kiss might be doing it to cut certain ostracized members out of any royalties seeing as it's a new line-up playing, but of course some see it as a labour of love rather than a cash cow, which is cool with me. Why not beat an old classic until a few more pennies fall from the bloated beast? Some artists kept notes and tapes galore of all periods and revisiting an old classic can be a fascinating experience especially if the visit isn't just to dig up the bones but to breath new life into songs and challenge the artist and the listener with new arrangements and styles. 'Majority' certainly falls into the latter category and actually throws up a few polished gems.


The Alarm has seen many hardcore fans debate the name and the whys and wherefores of which line-up is kosher and which one is bogus and all I can say to that is it's been so many years since the original line-up were of any relevance that it's not even funny anymore. Mike Peters has spent several decades keeping the flame burning and lovingly preserving the name and managed to produce some pretty good records to boot.


Anyway, let's not get side tracked. 'Majority' sees Peters dissect a lot of the in-between tracks that neither made the cut of 'Declaration' nor did they make it onto the sophomore 'Strength' but many made it to being firm live favourites. Take, for instance, the title track and opening number, 'Majority' - this recording might well cause some to balk at its Frankenstein-like creation as it kicks proceedings off with a decidedly rockabilly version and I don't mind admitting that I like it, in fact this is pretty damn good. Sure, it's not what I heard all those years ago but it's freshened things up and like a little plastic surgery makes more mature people a little more preserved the same can be said here. A nip and tuck has done wonder to the tune and pull it off Peters certainly has done.


Twelve songs get a right old make over on this brand new album: 'Reason 36' is stark and it's still a little weird hearing Peters sing songs he didn't used to although, again, this version breathes new life into the old and I'm relaxed and very happy with what's unfolding.


'Blackside Of Fortune' remains largely intact from what I remember it being like and with a very bright recording it seems strange that this got left behind all those years ago. Maybe through those 20/20 hindsight glasses it should have gone on 'Change'.


You can keep the Dylan cover of 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' - I always thought The Alarm were better than that. Sure, it's a great song but I'm happy listening to Dylan singing it or maybe a raucous Guns N' Roses dismantling it, but not The Alarm. Another B-side that has improved with its new arrangement, 'Caroline Isenberg' is a song I could take or leave but I'm really enjoying this laid back version and this version is more suited to the lyrics. It just seems to work.


I never took to 'The Chant Has Just Begun' but the acoustic groove and brushes on the drums suit the song and its more mature, less frantic arrangement is most welcome. Clearly a lot of time, effort and thought has gone into these versions and whilst it's subjective the backing vocals and melodies really work. I'm liking this disc a lot more than last year's 'Declaration' but that might be that 'Declaration' was my first love and the original was a corner stone in my record collection whereas 'Strength' wasn't. It's funny how time and a twist here and there can change one's perspective.


One song I always loved and have played over the last thirty plus years more than most was the majestic 'Unbreak The Promise' and I'm delighted to write that whilst it hasn't been tampered with too much the melody is intact and one of the finest songs Peters ever wrote is just as fine here as it was back in the 'Declaration' era.


I haven't covered every track but it's fair to say I'm liking this a lot and considering how strong a lot of the songs are here it is hard to see what would have been left off 'Strength'. Perhaps they should have had the guts and belief in their own work and gone for the bold double album, it could have been what just pushed them over the hill to megastardom. It could have seen them go from contenders to champions with such a bold step alas it didn't happen and who knows what might have been. I can sit here daydreaming but it doesn't change the fact that not too many bands had such an impressive non-album catalogue of songs. I guess what this does more than anything is hammer home just how good these songs are, that they can have a make over and still sound great.


The bottom line is, after all said and done, The Alarm are and were the finest band this nation of mine has produced. Without The Alarm my record collection would be a much colder and darker place. Long may Michael Peters continue to fly the flag especially when it's this good. Love, Hope & Strength!