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The Alarm: Declaration 2014

Having received the recent The Alarm album Strength 2015 to review, and having rather enjoyed the experience, it felt right to delve back to the first in these reworked albums, Declaration 2014, which a year earlier also received the tear it down and rebuild it approach. Back in 1984 this was the band's debut full length effort and through "Sixty Eight Guns" and "Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?", announced them into the UK top 25 singles chart, the album itself reaching the heady heights of number 5 in the rankings. Using their new-wave influenced, with a touch of punk, pop and rock blueprint the band managed to appeal to a broad section of music lovers. Here though, some thirty years on, mainman Mike Peters has, with aid of drummer Smiley, alongside Steve Allan Jones and Jules Jones Peters (both on backing vocals) completely reimagined not only those singles, but the whole album. With the big guitars thoroughly put away in their cases, acoustic is the main order of the day, and yet with many of the songs acquiring impressive choral arrangements, it's arguable that many are, while stripped back, more grandiose than their originals. The band's biggest hit, "Sixty Eight Guns" becomes a strum along chant along, still proving engaging, if very different, while "Where Were You..." alludes to Neil Young via liberal use of harmonica. However with a lone bass drum, scraping rhythm and energetic choir, there's a feel of the traditional folk/protest song about proceedings. Through Peters' proud vocals, an air of U2 meets Springsteen is revealed in "Howling Wind", while "Marching On" rumbles along on a keen beat, the choir once again sitting in the background.

Personally I'm pleased to have approached the redeclared Declaration after having experienced the reworked Strength, for while this older album is enjoyable and engaging, it lacks the spark of the album which follows it. The liberal use of choir here adds a pretension I could sometime do without and while those banked backings are expertly provided and well performed, they do sometimes distract from the songs themselves. That said, Declaration 2014 still makes a strong statement and one long time fans will have fun getting to know. If like me you're coming at these albums reasonably fresh, may I suggest you start with the excellent Strength, before working your way back to this good, if harder to get to know release.

Track Listing
1. Shout To The Devil
2. Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?
3. The Stand (Full Length Version)
4. Tell Me
5. Howling Wind
6. Blaze Of Glory
7. Third Light
8. The Deceiver (Long Version)
9. Sixty Eight Guns (Long Version)
10. Declaration
11. Marching On
12. We Are The Light

Added: September 13th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: The Alarm online
Hits: 1783
Language: english

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