The Alarm – Forwards (Twenty First Century Recording)

The Alarm is definitely a better moniker to hold than their original gambit of The Toilets. This name was derived from the performer, then Eddie Bob, and a series of other artists’ alias’s in 1977. A short-lived outfit, the band went through a sequence of tags, one which featured keyboardist Karl Wallinger, before rebranding themselves and settling on the band we now all know to be the home of singer/songwriter, using his own name, Mike Peters MBE. It’s no wonder that I still associate the group with U2, as in 1981, through to ’82 they played support for Bono and co., thanks to backing provided by than-manager Ian Wilson. Both possessed a similar energy and, dare I say it, ‘sound’, driving both bands, and their single ‘Sixty Eight Guns’, released in August of ’83, was having an immediate significance that still rings in my head today.

With 40 years of history, which has seen Peter leave the group in 1991 during a performance at Brixton Academy, co-writing with ex-Cult guitarist Billy Duffy and a year which saw Peter’s health dominated by pneumonia and a leukaemia relapse, this album has a particular significance. The title and lead track of this new album, seem remarkably apt, as Peter sings, “In the cities all deserted, in the streets of emptiness, in the church of non-believers, I’ve been searching for the way forward…”.

With something in just those few words that we can all relate to, this seems as good a place to start as any. This first track opens with both relatable words, a great hook, and a hopeful view, that I’m sure even the hardest non-believer will find something on which to hang their hat. This is the benefit of great songwriting and for a band with their experience, I would have to say that I am not at all surprised. The album continues with ‘The Returning’ and onto ‘Another Way’, a song in which Peters describes as “..…life is cabaret, entertainment, as we come and go through the mirrors and smoke…”, well not for all of us, but a line in which I can see the artist may have felt he has lived life and another tune which possesses that solid identity. This is turning out to be an album beyond compare, as a distorted guitar rings out. Can I hear comparisons of the 1980s? Well maybe, but that’s not to dismiss the content. Would my girlfriend dismiss the radio station ‘Absolute 80s? I think not, so that should be the case here and these are original songs, all 10 of them.

As track number 4 begins, I’m once again assured that strong songwriting is at the heart of this release. Beginning with 3 notes, in isolation, this suddenly reminds me of U2’s ‘One’, not the same, but I can certainly hear that these bands crossed paths during their formative years and that this connection is still present, which is in some ways reassuring.

Sticking this vehicle into reverse, so to speak and the next number does exactly that, as ’Next’ rings out. This is a full-blooded rock tune, as the bpm goes off the scale. Mike Peters and Co. pull on their boots, as they ask the audience, “…are you ready for what’s next…”. Well, that’s a pretty assertive question, at which point I’m fair trembling to find out. ‘Whatever’ pull’s up next to me, it’s plush velvet seats allowing me to enjoy their comfort as Peters makes the statement, “…There’s no place I’d rather be, than behind closed doors, just you and me… Whatever gets you through this life, that’s alright…”. Now I’m under no delusion that I’m not the person he’s directing this at. That would just be weird and in no way reciprocated, but it’s good to hear those words that would fill a stadium and at least half of those assembled, actually feel the emotion focused on them. Again I would like to point out that these musicians are writing songs that hit the sweet spot, but what should I expect from professionals, who know their art. This is what 40 years of experience brings.

You can actually feel the passion that comes from this album, it’s dripping from every song. I have listened to this album, from start to finish, over and over, and have found a connection that places this alongside even the best work the band has produced. Anthems that a younger band has written, with sounds as fresh as anything I have heard of late. And who said that after 40 years you can’t be political. Well, these have centred on the zeitgeist, laying bare emotions that might have surfaced recently. Putting these together with a driving tune and acerbic lyric, without favour, or fancy. Well, I’m sold, now where did I file that copy of Declaration.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.