The Alarm’s old albums take on deep new meanings

Mike Peters releases retrospective trilogy ‘Hurricane of Change’

As a three-time cancer survivor, The Alarm’s bandleader Mike Peters has learned that necessity is the mother of invention and never overlooks an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade.

“The turbulence of my rock and roll career has kept the fire burning for our creativity, and the hunger to be able to grow, make mistakes, and then learn from them. In short, you adapt to survive, and that’s a different kind of creativity that really takes you into the moment,” says the rocker, promoting The Alarm’s latest release “{Hurricane of Change},” a compilation of recordings from the late 1980s.

“{Hurricane of Change}” is a two-disc, narration-linked assembly of three vintage Alarm albums — 1987’s ”Eye of the Hurricane,” 1988’s “Electric Folklore” and 1989’s “Change — which the vocalist saw in retrospect as a cohesive trilogy that told a tale.

“When I came back from tour in 1986, I didn’t go on vacation. I stayed home, took a video camera, set it up, and wrote about what I could see in Wales,” Peters says of the music’s genesis. “I was writing about the town below, where you look down on all these mining cottages and terraced houses, row after row. And I’d see two people walking, holding hands, and I’d think, ‘Where are they going? Where’s their future?’”

By rerecording those tracks, then putting them in chronological order, starting with “A New South Wales” and “New Town Jericho,” he saw those kids’ path quite clearly for the first time.

“It’s funny — those songs go away to the outer reaches of your thoughts, but when they come back, they can actually be more powerful than they were 30 years ago and even capture what’s happening now,” says Peters, 61, adding, “Because the world was going through massive change back then — the Berlin Wall was coming down, free movement was happening, borders were opening up.”

Today, with COVID-19 changing the rules around the world, he says, “It’s like the polar opposite: Walls are going back up, there’s a strange new kind of politics in America, and people are being restricted again. So these songs are eerily relevant again.”

When lockdown hit, Peters had big, increasingly theatrical plans for presenting his “{Hurricane}” drama live, starting with himself as narrator and ballooning into a grander Shakespearean setup, including climate-change activists roaming the audience at key junctures.

He hopes to stage a picture-perfect version of his vision in Wales as soon as it’s safe for concertgoers to congregate again.

Until then, his invites guests to enjoy Big Night In, an online broadcast with his wife Jules, featuring obscure Alarm footage and recordings, plus live music and top-billed guest stars.

A recent Big Night In premiered a new track called “Rock and Roll Kills,” by his latest spinoff group, The Jack Tars, with Chris Cheney from The Living End, The Damned’s Captain Sensible and Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats renown.

An upcoming episode boasts a cameo from Cult guitarist Billy Duffy, Peters’ longtime partner in his first side project, Dead Men Walking.

Touting the treasures of Big Night In, Peters says, “People don’t realize just how vast our archive is. We’ve recorded everything, and we even have on-the-road diaries from 1987 and a lot of photography that captured the moment. So it’s been quite revealing for us, as well.”

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