1-27 - Music Review: DANIEL AMOS - Alarma!

NewPax Records

¡Alarma! is the fourth studio album by Daniel Amos, this one on Gary S. Paxton’s label NewPax in 1981. As you may or may not recall in discussing the history of the previous release, Horendous Disc, in that review, Larry Norman had all but held that album hostage, keeping it from its original 1978 release, and only releasing it mere weeks before the release of ¡Alarma! because…reasons. That guy was a bit off, it seems. And while Horrendous Disc was definitely a Beatles/Steely Dan/Eagles classic rock style album, ¡Alarma! sees Daniel Amos first steps in the style that they’re most remembered for: early Alternative Rock. In this instance, heavy on the New Wave.

Since it’s technically a part of the core of the release, I’m going to briefly mention the ¡Alarma! Chronicles, which ties into this and the three releases following this. Apparently, it’s a story that involves four parts, the first one included with this release. I have no idea what the story is about, really; I don’t have the vinyl insert anymore, and while I understand that the entire story was reprinted in a 200-page hardcover book, along with remastered re-releases of the four albums that are associated with it, I really have no desire to purchase it. And, for the life of me, no one will tell me what that story is about. If anyone can let me in on the big secret, that would be nifty. Anyway…

As I mentioned, ¡Alarma! can very much be classified as “New Wave”, but like the previous releases, you can’t really fit them comfortably within just the general descriptor. There are times where they have a nice Police vibe, other times they’re evoking the spirit of The Pretenders. There’s some quirky experimental stuff akin to The Talking Heads, while at other times the upbeat punkiness of Elvis Costello comes out and plays. I can tell you that the musicianship on the album is very well played, and I realize that to say it’s “quirky” is really doing it a disservice; understand, as primarily a despised \,,/METALHEAD\,,/, I too find the music on this album oddly catchy and rather hard to stop listening to.

The album draws you in with the opening “Central Theme”, where Terry Scott Taylor’s vocal styles makes you think of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson if he decided to go for more British pop rather than prog rock. It’s very distinctive and part of Daniel Amos’ hook, which comes in handy as a way to deliver some of the smartest lyrics you’ll ever here delivered from the speakers (see what I did there?). “Props” has a kind of Beatles 60s jangle pop vibe to it; “Endless Summer” has kind of a surfer theme going for it, and “Walls Of Doubt” is probably the closest you will come to a CCM single you’ll find, in case you were curious. The whole thing ends on a rather dark and haunting note with “Ghosts Of The Heart”.

For the most part, ¡Alarma! is a very well-produced and solid collection of early Alternative Rock that was rather ahead of its time. At least, in the sense of the Christian Market. I think I’m beginning to understand the hype. I may have to start listening to the other albums in their discography now. Recommended.