Mike Peters and the Alarm | Stream | (The Twenty First Century Record Company)
3.5 out of 5
It’s not unusual for a surviving member of a vintage band to tout their accomplishments all on their own, especially if that individual could claim a role as the group’s prime mover. Not surprisingly then, Mike Peters — the main instigator in the Alarm, a band whose oversized anthems transitioned punk’s posturing from the ‘70s to ‘80s — has made it a point to maintain their lingering legacy. Putting his name above the band’s on the marquee, he’s toured under a banner dubbed the “Hurricane of Change” tour, often relying on a solo setting. The shows found him playing Alarm classics drawn from their early iconic albums, Eye Of The Hurricane, Electric Folklore and Change, all late ‘80s albums that incorporated what Peters has labeled the most productive period in the Alarm’s collective career. The tour was well received in the U.K., but given the perils of the pandemic, it’s uncertain when the tour will hit the U.S.
Happily, fans can find some consolation with the release of Stream (Hurricane of Change), a double CD that features 39 newly recorded songs that include any number of Alarm classics (“Eye of the Hurricane,” “Rescue Me,” “Shelter,” “Rain in the Summertime,” “A New South Wales.” et. al. and several new tracks as well — the searing “Irish Sea” and “Ballad of Randolph Turpin,” among them.
The material maintains a common thread courtesy of spoken word dialogue that Peters intersperses throughout, allowing him to recount the Alarm’s origins and its trajectory through their frenzied formative era. Given this format, the album takes on a theatrical tone, although the music, performed by Peters and the current incarnation of the Alarm, retains the fury and frenzy that defined the group so specifically early on. Likewise, given the outrage and insurgency that’s currently taking place in the U.S., that drama and defiance seems particularly well-positioned.
The two discs are subtitled “Downstream” and “Upstream,” but there’s little difference in terms of tone or temperament between them. Indeed, drive and determination provide the central core to these proceedings, making Peters’ commentary that much more insightful.
All in all, Stream is both the perfect primer for the newcomer and a cool acquisition for the completist. It’s time to bid the Alarm a warm and welcome return.