ALARM IN THE POPPYFIELDS
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the South Wales Eighties post-punk band The Alarm. So what better way of revamping the old hairstyles and getting a top 30 hit record after 14 years? First get a fresh faced band from Chester called the Wayriders who become the Poppyfields, then get the combo to mime, make a video to promote the track, sell over 4,000 copies in the first week of release and hey presto you are in the UK pop charts in Februry 2004 at number 28 for the first time since 1990!
The ruse fooled many radio stations into playing the tune 45RPM when maybe if they'd known it was The Alarm the song would not get played. But even MTV aired the video. In an industry where image is everything and the record companies seemed to have an obsession with youth, and short term one hit wonders, this warms the cockles of anybody over 35 years old with a rock’n’ roll heart.
The cheecky chappies, The Alarm were renowned for the band's big hair and their biggest hit was the 1983 song, 68 Guns parts one and two.They have sold over 5 million albums worldwide and have had 14 top 50 singles over their illustrious rock music career. The group was originally signed by Miles Copeland (brother of the successful pop band Police drummer/songwriter Stewart Copeland) to his IRS label. The lead singer Mike Peters is a folk hero in his native Wales, voted the seventh most popular Welshman just behind Tom Jones and the late Richard Burton. He was recently awarded a lifetime achievement award to a standing ovation in Cardiff for outstanding contribution to Welsh music.
This astonishing comeback was bolstered by the loyal and staunch fanbase in Europe and America, when the 45 RPM single was extraordinarily rushed released due to the positive reaction to this "new band", in an inspired three formats (two Cds/7ins single) under the moniker the Poppyfields. Devotees were encouraged to purchase the music by an adroit internet campaign and the local HMV in Cardiff had been inundated with orders.
So old rockers never die, with shades of Elvis Costello’s ominous 1979 recording in his new wave/punk explosion period, *(What’s so funny ‘bout) Peace, Love and Understanding. It initially went out as a B-side, sung by Costello but put out as a Nick Lowe record, the A-side being, American Squirm. The Alarm are back masquerading as young hopefuls, and in the words of Mike Peters "We wanted to make sure that we are judged purely on the strength of the music and not by our old hairstyles". The band will be touring at the start of this month, in August look out for Alarmstock Two in Wrexham on the 28/29. Also keep that alarm clock ready , for in April, (not an April fool) the boys will bring out a new album - no sobriquet this time - as The Alarm and wait for it, the CD’s title - In the Poppyfield. And that’s no poppycock!
London, Scala, 1/2 March 2004
Cleethorpes, Winter Gardens, 4 March 2004
Middlesbrough, Town Hall, 6 March 2004
Glasgow, Garage, 7 March 2004
Wrexham, Alarmstock, 28/29 August 2004
For more information, www.thealarm.com
Alarm information service: 01745 571571
LOST IN TRANSLATION
*The Elvis Costello song is featured in the film, Lost in Translation (2003) currently showing in the UK. The astute, subtle comedy with a simple storyline and tremendous cinematography that leapes out at you and hits you right between the eyes, is directed by Sofia Coppola. The performances of the two main characters played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson have a dream like quality about them and that vital ingredient, chemistry on screen. Murray plays a well-known American actor in mid-life crisis who is in Tokyo to be in a whisky commercial because the cash is to good to turn down. He meets Johansson a young wife who is in her own newly married where-is-my- photographer- husband crisis.
They escape at night from their hotel together, feeling the same alienation from life and their partners, but able to have a giggle at the world and themselves. After a night on the town and on the sake, they end up at a trendy karoke party where Murray in his tipsy state gives his own inimitable rendition of the Elvis Costello song, and his translation is not lost on his companion.
Now go out and get some yo sushi!