This is the last 7″ Single I found at Mad Jack’s on the last dig I had back earlier in the Summer. This time around it is the song “Strength” by the UK band The Alarm. This was the first single off the album of the same name. The song came out prior to the album release which was in 1985. It reached #40 in the UK but didn’t chart in the U.S. However, I saw the video for this song on MTV and my brother had their prior album, so I was really in to it and in fact, the album ‘Strength’ is a personal favorite of mine.
The song is credited to the whole band which is not normal for them. The song came to Mike Peters in the middle of the night while at a hotel in Newcastle. He and his friend went down to the get his guitar out of the van so he could start writing. The next day during soundcheck, the whole band worked through the song as Mike still didn’t hav the right chords for it. And that is why the whole band got credit.
My copy is the Pinckneyville Pressing from the U.S. Pretty standard. The cool thing about it is the B-Side is a non-album track. The song is called “Majority”. You can now get it on subsequent re-issues of the album, but not back in the day. This was the only place which would’ve made this a prized single to get.
At the latest record show here in Charlotte, I found a handful of great 7″ Singles as there is always this one guy that has an amazing collection of them to sell. I always find a handful of pristine and cool ones to grab and this one is no different. This time I found one by a band I really enjoy called The Alarm. The song was “Presence of Love” off their 1987 album ‘Eye of the Hurricane’. It was the third and final single and just missed cracking the Top 40.
The song “Presence of Love” was written by Eddie McDonald and Mike Peters. The song seems to be about how when you are really in love, no matter how hard things are you can overcome anything. Now, is that love, the love of a woman or the love of God? He mentions all the levels of heaven so part of me feels there is a religious connotation to it all. What do you think?
My copy is awesome even it is the plain old U.S. version. First, I love the I.R.S. labels on the single itself. I find them to be really cool. Second, the B-Side is “My Land Your Land” which is a previously unreleased track recorded during the Hurricane Sessions.
The single “Presence of Love” is a ballad as every album back then had to have a ballad. Musically, it sounds a lot like The Police and their song “Every Breath You Take” or at least it has a lot of the elements of that song. Mike Peters is on vocals and his voice is so distinct. When he really gets in some of the lines, his voice sounds so smooth and angelic and then the rest of the verses, he has a nice grit to it. A great combination of styles to have.
The B-Side is “My Land Your Land” was written by Nigel Twist and David Sharp of The Alarm and David is actually on vocals. Honestly, I didn’t know anyone else sang other than Mike Peters so this was really interesting to hear. David’s vocals are respectable but don’t have that character of Mike but not many do. The song being written by the drummer and lead guitarist, you do get some great drumming as that is the driving force of the song. There is some great guitar picking throughout but no huge single guitar moment. The song is mid-tempo and plods along not real exciting and I see why it wasn’t on the album, but it actually makes for a spectacular B-Side as this is what I like to get as the B.
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the walk through the single “Presence of Love”. I still have a handful more of singles I haven’t been through so more to come. Have a great day and see you real soon.
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”.
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. Continue reading “The Alarm – “Sixty-Eight Guns” (45 Single)”→
For Record Store Day April 13, 2019, The Alarm released a live album in support of their 1985 album ‘Strength’. It was a previously unreleased show recorded at the Boston Orpheum Theatre on November 9th, 1985. Since ‘Strength’ is one of my favorite albums, this was quickly added to the albums I needed to grab on RSD.
The album has 20 songs, of which, 16 have never been released before (officially). There have been bootlegs of the show, but none with the actual mixed recording which was done about a month after the show by Nigel Luby. The sound is untouched and no overdubs. It is as it was back in the day. You can hear the rawness, the crowd and you know it is truly live. It is fantastic.
With only 2 albums out at this time, the band played a ton of songs from both ‘Declaration’ and ‘Strength’ (which hadn’t been out long) and some you hadn’t heard before. Songs like “Majority” and “The Chant Has Just Begun” were not on the studio albums, but later released as bonus tracks on deluxe editions. You get to hear them live here before ever seeing the light day.
Has there ever been a band that you loved and then suddenly stopped paying attention to any new releases? The Alarm was that for me. I followed them throughout the 80’s and after 1989’s album ‘Change’, just stopped listening to new stuff. No reason, just stopped. It is strange and I can’t figure out why.
So when I saw they had a new album being released, something told me to listen to it. Now if I wasn’t doing this blog, would I have cared or paid attention? I can’t answer that, but the thing is I did pay attention and I did listen to their new release this time. And I am hear to tell you I am so glad I did.
Now Mike Peters is the only original member still in the band and usually that would bother me, but Mike was always my draw anyway. I loved his vocals, his delivery and his style and with him still at the mic, I am still getting what I liked.
From the first notes of the opening track, “Two Rivers”, there was a familiarity to it with the minor exceptions of some electronica sounds which I don’t recall the band ever doing. However, that was a minor distraction. Mike Peters sounded amazing and he hadn’t lost anything which is amazing considering he has been around singing since the late 70’s.
For My Sunday Song #46, I have chosen “The Day The Ravens Left The Tower” by The Alarm. The song is off the album, ‘Strength’, from 1985 and is one of my all time favorite albums from the 80’s. They were never hugely popular in the States although MTV played them a lot. The album did reach #39 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
“The Day The Ravens Left the Tower” is a very dark song and was a real jump in their songwriting lyrically. They have always been political with their songs, but the maturity and growth in songwriting really shined on this song for me. I know I read this somewhere that the song was inspired by a hallucination that Eddie MacDonald had when he was sick with the flu. I think that is cool if that is true.
What I am fascinated with about the song is actually the story of the ravens. For those that don’t know, there are ravens that live in the Tower of London. There have been ravens living there since as far back as 1660 or so around the time of King Charles II. It is believed that the ravens are there to protect the Crown. If they should ever leave the tower, the Crown and Britain would fall. I know there is a lot more to the story, but I am not a historian and the site is about music so you can look it up further if you are interested…it is fascinating stuff (also any UK readers want to add anything, please leave a comment).