The Alarm – “Sixty-Eight Guns” (45 Single)

In my quest of the finding cool things on vinyl, occasionally I pick up 7″ singles or 45’s of bands I like and while in Florida, I found this 45 Single from the band The Alarm.  Mike Peters and crew released their debut album, ‘Declaration’, in February 1984 and the single for “Sixty Eight Guns” well before the albums release in August of 1983. Due to the success, they put it on their debut album.  Now, the single I have is not that particular single. My single is a re-issue of the single done on February 14, 1984 for the official release of the album.  Where the original single had alternate version of “Sixty Eight Guns”, mine has a previously unreleased track called “Pavilion Steps”.

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The Alarm were a new wave, alternative rock band that liked to take on the “Establishment” and were not afraid to write politically charged songs.  Something other bands at the time were not doing.  “Sixty Eight Guns” was inspired by a book called A Glasgow Gang Observed by the Scottish author Patrick James that Mike Peters was reading about gangs in Glasgow around 1968 (thus the title).  The song is a battle cry for that gang mentality that you were invincible and ready to take on the world.

And the song sounds like you would think.  It is an anthem of teenage angst.  There is a Scottish sound that is unmistakable full of trumpets, drums and guitars even though the band is Welsh. It feels inspiring and uplifting and makes you feel you can take on the world.  It is the type of song that would be a blast to hear live as you can feel how the crowd would react and you wish you could be there to be a part of that feeling.  Mike’s vocals aren’t smooth, but a little grit that bring the emotion and makes it rock out at the same time.  It was my introduction to the band so many years ago and why I am still a fan today.

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The B-Side is a song called “Pavilion Steps” and was not released on the album until decades later as a bonus track.  I can see why it was left off as it doesn’t have the same tone, style and feel as the ‘Declaration’ album, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  It just didn’t fit.

Lyrically, the song is about the “Pavilion Theatre” in Rhyl.  The theatre was was demolished in the 1970’s so they could build a parking lot…yeah progress (Sarcasm). Mike Peters and Eddie McDonald actually met on those very steps when they were 4 years old.  The song is a tribute to the place where their friendship began.  It is a sad song, slower tempo and a little of a downer. Despite that feeling, it is a fantastically written song and conveys all the memories and feelings he had when they destroyed it.  More proof that Mike Peters is a great songwriter and story teller.  I think he is very underrated.

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I hope you enjoyed the journey exploring this 45 Single.  Until the next one, have a great day!

Lyrics to “Sixty-Eight Guns:

“Sixty-Eight Guns”

And now they’re trying to take my life away
Forever young I cannot stay
Hey
On every corner I can see them there
They don’t know my name they don’t know my kind
They’re after you with their promises
(Promises of love)
They’re after you to sign your life away
(Yeah, yeah)

Sixty-eight guns will never die
Sixty-eight guns, our battle cry
Sixty-eight guns
Sixty-eight guns
Oh, the sixty-eight

Living in the backstreets
That’s our home from home
The painted walls were all we’ve ever known
‘The Guns Forever’ that’s our battle cry
It is the flag that we fly so high
For every day they’ll try and drag us down
(Drag us down and down)
I cry with anger I have done no crime
No
(Yeah, yeah)

Sixty-eight guns will never die
Sixty-eight guns, our battle cry
Sixty-eight guns will never die
Sixty-eight guns, our battle cry
Sixty-eight guns
Sixty-eight guns
The sixty-eight

Up on the terrace I can hear the crowd roar
Sixty-eight guns
And in the subway I can hear them whisper
Sixty-eight guns
Through all the raging glory of the years
We never once thought of the fears
For what we’d do when the battle cry was over
Nothing lasts forever is all they seem to tell you when you’re young

(I, I do swear
To unbreak the promise
To unbreak the vow

Unbreak it)

When you’re young
Have no illusion, no disillusion

Unbreak the promise
Unbreak the vow
Uphold the promise

Sixty-eight guns

Sixty-eight guns will never die
Sixty-eight guns, our battle cry
Sixty-eight guns will never die
Sixty-eight guns, our battle cry
Sixty-eight guns
Sixty-eight guns
The sixty-eight guns
Sixty-eight guns
The sixty-eight guns

Written by Mike Peters and Eddie McDonald

17 thoughts on “The Alarm – “Sixty-Eight Guns” (45 Single)

  1. I really know nothing about the Alarm or this song so it’s my first time hearing it. I can tell you I do have Mike Peters in my collection on Colorsound with Billy Duffy.

    Not a fan of Pavilion Steps, but 68 Guns sounds great to me! Inspiring uplifting and ready to take on the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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