Reissue Tuesday : The Alarm | Eponymous (1981-1983) and Declaration (1984-1985)

The Alarm release a duo of reissues via Twenty-First Century

By Tim Craig

Earnest. Whenever The Alarm comes through the speakers, that’s the word that comes to mind. At a time when U2 was turning heads with its religious imagery and social consciousness, The Alarm was firmly sowing alongside the same ground. With a formula that includes straight-up, anthemic rock and roll that is so heart-on-its-sleeve, so sure of its conviction, so not tongue in cheek, it’s hard not to admire.

And there’s a lot to admire with Twenty-First Century’s releases of The Alarm’s Eponymous (1981-1983) and Declaration (1984-1985) on March 16. The releases (this review is based on the vinyl versions, both of which are two-LP) are chock full of remastered versions and alternate takes and unreleased singles and live recordings that will please both the casual fan and the collector/complete-ist. Both projects were overseen by founding member and lead vocalist Mike Peters.

Eponymous is based on the band’s 1983 initial EP release, featuring all the tracks from EP, as well as the band’s first four singles and B-sides, including the rare B-side Sixty-Eight Guns (Part 2), which has not been released since 1983. Among the rare studio recordings, there is a seven-song live side (LP2, Side 1) — which, like Electric Folklore Live (1988), captures the band in its passionate strength.

Declaration has been restored to its original 1984 running order and, on the LP, features four previously unreleased US radio edit versions of Shout to the Devil, Blaze of Glory, The Deceiver, and Howling Wind. This allows side two of the LP to be remastered to optimal running times, according to the release notes, “in order to create a louder-than-ever cut that enhances the listening experience.” The release also includes an unreleased version of “Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke? (Take 1)” with different verse lyrics.

If there is any knock on these two releases, it’s almost too much to take in. Expect to spend time — multiple listenings in fact — to get through it all. But, it is time well spent. Eponymous and Declaration gives the listener an exhaustive canvas to explore a band that is breaking onto the world stage at a time when rock and roll was sincere, music could change the world, and hearts were earnestly worn on sleeves.