Many years ago, I was as big a fan of the Alarm as there was, certainly among my annoyed friends. This was a four-song EP that they put out ahead of their first full length, Declaration.
I always liked the cover of this one. Four Welsh cowboy musicians standing menacingly on top of a hill before they took care of the bad guys with their own brand of acoustic-U2-Clash-Beatles punky new wave. Or were they the bad guys?! The four songs on the original EP, among them “The Stand,” and the original version of “Marching On” were some of the best things these guys put out.
This 2001 reissue brings those four songs out to 22. Most of those are demos and live versions. As is usually the way with that kind of stuff, they’re really only essential for the most dedicated of fans. Maybe I would have swooned over this years ago, but now it just seems like way too much. I’m not really sure why anyone would need studio versions of songs that just showed up among the regular tracks on Declaration, which, by the time this EP was put out, had been out and about for over 15 years. That’s one of the things I find most annoying about The Alarm, they just keep issuing and reissuing the same albums over and over, much more than it seems like other bands, do. It’s just too much.
I liked the music on this all in all, though. You could certainly live without all the fluff, but the the original version of “Unsafe Building,” which, as far as I know was only available in the US as a late-era b-side is great. Also, the version of “Marching On” from this stands as one of the high points of the Alarm’s entire catalog; high up among the best of the 80s, maybe. I don’t think I’d buy this one again, but it’s nice to have around.