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THE ALARM ‘In The Poppyfields ’
(Snapper Music SMACD874)(2004)

After seeing a storming gig by the Alarm recently I was very keen to hear the new album. Only Mike Peters (vocals/guitars) remains from the 80’s line-ups but the band here are all top draw musicians- guitarist James Stevenson (The Cult/Generation X & Kim Wilde!), bass player Craig Adams (The Cult/The Mission/Sisters of Mercy), drummer Steve Grantly (Stiff Little Fingers) and keyboard player Mark Taylor (Simple Minds). Quick word on the production by Steve Brown (The Cult/Manic Street Preachers), which has a big sound and allows all the instruments to shine in the mix - top notch.

Opener ‘Coming Home’ has a classic U2 ‘big sound’ feel to it and is another in the fine line of Alarm anthems. ‘Close’ keeps the pace going and is another anthemic tune that will stay in your head for days. Next up we have the recent hit single, ’45 RPM, albeit under the alias of the Poppy Fields! I was fooled as I had the single and video to review (I smelt a rat briefly there as the logo at the back was the Alarm’s poppy one) and thought it was not bad at all & a band to watch out for! Needless to say it’s a three-minute punk pop romp complete with hand-claps and hook-filled chorus.

There is so much else to enjoy here like ‘The Drunk and the Disorderly’ that kicks in with a big guitar riff after a gentle acoustic guitar intro. Just proving that Mike Peters has lost none of his vocal power. ‘The Rock and Roll’ lowers the tempo and sees Mark Taylor on piano in a heartfelt ballad. Track of the album? Has to be the slow burning ‘Right Back Where I Started From’ which is the sort of tune that attracted me to the Alarm all those years ago. Catchy chorus backed by guitar and a solid rhythm section – sheer aural bliss.

If like me you’re a lapsed Alarm fan get this album as it’s their best since ‘Change’ in my view. Plenty of anthems on display, along with some poignant lyrics. Good to see another band back on form.


Review by Jason Ritchie

Buy this CD

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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