The !Alarma! Chronicles Volume II
Produced by Terry Taylor & Jerry Chamberlain
Rating: **** Recommended
This God-rock outfit always changed with the times, and these changes were wise decisions, as this set is one of the most interesting albums in the Christian rock category, all electro new wave, mixing studio trickery such as tape reversal with some basic old-school rock elements. This set is home to several cool and unique cuts.
The Talking Heads, Gary Numan, and Bowie appear to be influences, but the band delivers their own sound. From the influences showing on “Real Girls,” they go into a neo-rockabilly sound for “New Car,” the entire side quite entertaining.
Side two also offers some gems, and plenty of variety, going into 60s garage on “Autographs.” That song, “New Car,” and “I Didn’t Build it for Me” (as well as “Youth With a Machine”) flirt punk rock (relatively speaking considering this was Christian rock outfit), the first three apparently attacks at televangelists–in a time before the scandals involving Swaggart and Jim Baker.
While some of the material approaches the typical boredom of new wave, even those numbers are more interesting than the competition, and this has more than enough to make it a recommended listen for fans of new wave, perhaps even more than fans of God rock. In fact, you’d likely never know this is a Christian-themed album if you’re not familiar with this group.
This outfit is an essential part of the God-rock story, and this is perhaps their most interesting and enjoyable album.
(The band’s name alludes to the Bible. This was the second of four in the Alarma Chronicles.)
Solid Rock 2011
Released in 1981
For this album, this God-rock outfit moves completely away from its original hillbilly-rock sound, this set obviously coming from the same place as E.L.O., Steely Dan, 10cc, Badfinger,…from Sgt. Pepper.
The first side starts out strong, rocking without going overboard, dragging a bit as it progresses, but fairly solid to the end, a Beatles-style ballad effectively closing the side. Unfortunately, they don’t pull the slack out on the flip side. “On The Line” sounds like Steely Dan, “Man on the Moon” sounds like E.L.O., and the other cuts sound like filler.
While this is a varied set, the stronger cuts make this one of the more interesting and enjoyable God rock albums. It was recorded in 1978 for Maranatha!
Records, but not released until Larry Norman picked it up for his Solid Rock label in the early 80s.
The Peel Sessions
Strange Fruit (SFPS 002)
Producer: Jeff Griffin
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Recorded May 10 1977, first transmitted May 16, 1977, released June 1986 (UK only)
Four-songer from the John Peel show, a couple of comments but mostly tunes, about 10 minutes total. Some might find the killer sound wrong for punk, but worthwhile grab for fans.
Crass Records (5)
Material: 1977 – 1984
Recorded 1977 – 1984, released July 1984 (UK only)
This double LP collects singles and unreleased material, a nice gesture, saving fans from having to collect all the singles, and packaging the material with killer artwork. While this might have been better served up as a more concise two-sider, it certainly provides an overview of their history, moving from fairly straight-forward punk to abrasive avant garde.
For fans, this is essential. It also serves as a good intro.