The Alarm - 'Direct Action' (21st Century Records) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Dom Daley   
Saturday, 24 April 2010 05:00

directactionRight, I'll get the misconceptions out of the way first. 1) The Alarm are not a pound shop U2 - not now, not ever. 2) They're the wrapping on the chocolate bar otherwise known as The Clash. Uh, nope that is rubbish as well. 3) It's not really the Alarm because only the singer is still around from the original line up. Yeah whatever!


Right, glad that's out of the way. 'Direct Action' is the second full album culled from the fan club EP collection called 'Counter Attack Collective' following hot on the heels of last year's  'Guerilla Tactics'. What you get for your money is 14 songs on one CD then, open up the gatefold and you have a DVD with a video for 11 of the tracks plus a further two songs that aren't on the CD! You keeping up? Oh and if you download it there is a further bonus track only available as download but the least we say about that the better - surely it should be the other way around Mike? The bonus track on the CD version to get people out to buy the thing from an independent retailer, surely? Nah, we won't go there then, that's a whole new debate.  


The album opens with 'Direct Action' - now some of this album was produced by the same guy who produced 'Guerilla Tactics', one Gilby Clarke - yes, he of Guns N' Roses and, in fairness, he did a good job on the production so to see some of the song left over from the recordings is good. 'Loaded' already being a live favourite for some time and seeing the best of James Stevenson's axe work, a splendid riff indeed. We have a mix of acoustic songs, electric songs, songs with big riffs, songs that build and also having the assistance of uber-cool keyboard player and former Lords Of The New Church member Mark Taylor, Steve Grantly on the drums - when he's not tub thumping for Stiff Little Fingers - and bass player Craig Adams, yeah he of The Mission and The Cult (a mightily awesome rhythm section they are too). In fact this version of The Alarm has been performing together longer than the original line-up anyway so all the purists need to get over it and move with the times.

After a pretty strong opening few tracks it's no surprise the direction of the band on this and pretty much the last few albums is dictated by the members of the band. With members of Chelsea and the drummer from Stiff Little Fingers it's with some big guitar sounds and catchy choruses and some decent up tempo and uplifting songs. Almost halfway into the album and we reach possibly the most talked about track on the album, 'One Guitar' -  a rousing acoustic to electric song from NYC songwriter Willie Nile, which suits Mike Peters' voice and delivery perfectly and a fine song it is too.

Peters has set up the ultimate punk rock homegrown operation through his MPO (Mike Peters Organisation) which has grown and grown over the years since he left the stage that night in Brixton. His sound has changed over the years and in my humble opinion for the better, maybe working with the likes of Billy Duffy, Glen Matlock, Captain Sensible and Slim Jim Phantom has rubbed off on Peters and he's not content to just rehash earlier crowd favourites but has beefed up his back catalogue. Yes, the fist pumping anthems are still here with tracks like 'Direct Action', the punk rocking 'Release The Pressure' with its reverb and dub overtones.  'Loaded' offers something for the rockers with a great riff and chorus all nailed down with Craig Adams' thumping bassline. 'Change iii' concludes a trilogy of songs called 'Change' with a great acoustic riff before the band rocks in with some more sound guitar work by the former Gene Loves Jezabel and Chelsea axe man. 'Milk And Opportunity' comes on all early 80's New York new wave punk rock and reminds me of something Blondie could have written - catchy stuff indeed. 

There is something on here for every type of rock fan and whilst Peters obviously has the respect of industry peers and fellow musicians  I might be so bold as to ask you to check out 'Freedom', 'Loaded', 'Direct Action', damn it just buy it and tell me you didn't enjoy it. The hardest working man in rock 'n' roll delivers yet another crisp, clear, great sounding rock 'n' roll record and, like a good whisky, just gets better with age. Long live The Alarm.