CD: The Alarm - Equals Hand-on-heart Eighties rockers return with their distinctive brand of anthemi

From The Arts Desk Not many bands have a reputation for passion quite like The Alarm. Right from the early Eighties, tracks like "68 Guns" attracted fans who wanted music to believe in – something with a message and a conscience. That ethos came from the band's driving force, singer Mike Peters. After 10 fruitful years, Peters disbanded The Alarm (in 1991) to pursue other projects. A decade later he resurrected the group with a new line up. Equals is their first album for eight years. Curiously, though, the LP starts off not with a bang, but a slight whimper. "Two Rivers" has one of the most lightweight intros Peters has ever penned. It's especially odd when you consider what was going on wh

CD: Ray Davies - Our Country: Americana Act II Ex-Kink takes us on another rip-roaring journey aroun

From The Arts Desk When Ray Davies released his Americana LP last year, much was made of how the the ex-Kink's lyrical focus had shifted from English villages to the mid-western plains of the big old USA. Really, though, Davies was just looking back over his life. America had always loomed large in Kinks' songs - if only in the imagination of the English characters - and after their infamous touring ban, they played there relentlessly. Our Country - Americana Act II, completes the story. As before, the album is largely inspired by Davies autobiography, Americana: The Kinks, the Road and the Perfect Riff. This time, though, the inspiration is more direct. Volume 1 took an oblique look at Davi

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