Tuesday, October 30, 2018

"Strength" by The Alarm

Song#:  2574
Date:  12/28/1985
Debut:  91
Peak:  61
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Alternative Rock

Pop Bits:  After various iterations and name changes, this Welsh band finally settled on a line-up and became The Alarm in 1981. Their reputation as a solid live band got them noticed and a few gigs opening up for bigger acts like The Fall and U2 helped them to secure a deal with I.R.S. Records. A few singles and a self-titled EP did well enough to set the band up for their debut full-length album, 1984's Declaration. It would be a Top 10 hit in the UK bolstered by the #17 single "68 Guns," which made it to #39 on the US Rock chart. The album would also do well in the States getting to #50. After touring the US, the band headed back home to work on their second album to be titled Strength. This title-track would be the first single and it got to #40 in the UK. In the US, the track would do very well at Rock getting to #12 while becoming their first song to cross over to the Pop chart. It wouldn't crack the top half of the chart, but it was enough to help send the album to #39.

ReduxReview:  I had heard of The Alarm, but I wasn't familiar with any of their material. I remember that they were often compared to U2 and songs like this one certainly invited the comparison. On this track I think they sound like a mix of U2 and The Cult. I don't think they were ripping off either band but they did wear their influences on their sleeves. Even the album track "Spirit of '76" sounds like they had been listening to a lot of Born to Run era Bruce Springsteen. This is a solid rock track that probably sounded great on the radio, but it is awfully serious and the hooks aren't necessarily ones that work at pop radio.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Lead singer of The Alarm, Mike Peters, started his first band in 1977 after seeing the Sex Pistols. His punk influenced band would be called The Toilets and one of the songs Peters wrote for the band was titled "Alarm Alarm." Later on when Peters' next band Seventeen evolved, it was decided that the new band's name would be after the song title - Alarm Alarm. The story then goes that legendary English DJ John Peel made an on-air comment about the band's name stating something like - there is Duran Duran and Talk Talk, now there is Alarm Alarm...maybe I should change my name to John Peel John Peel. That little swipe prompted a name change to simply The Alarm.



  1. I saw The Alarm live in Portland, Maine on their tour supporting this album, opening for Pat Benatar. The Alarm had a lot of rabid fans. I saw as many Alarm T-shirts as I did those for Benatar and The Alarm's fans sang along fervently to every song. They certainly did give a fine performance, but Spirit of '76 was their only song that grabbed me.

    1. Portland! One of my former hometowns! I did like "Spirit of 76." It was a standout track.