The Alarm PhotoFORMED: 1981, Rhyl, Wales

Comparisons to U2 have dogged Welsh quartet the Alarm throughout their career, but in light of the Alarm's socially conscious lyrics, melodic rock anthems, and gravitation toward a mainstream alternative sound over their career, perhaps the comparisons are justified. Lead singer and guitarist Mike Peters was actually inspired by U2's passion and commitment to form the group in 1981 with guitarist/vocalist David Sharp, bassist Eddie MacDonald, and drummer Nigel Twist. Their early sound was energetic and largely acoustic-based, while the group's stage look encompassed skintight leather pants, gaudy belts, and spiked hair.

Their first of several U.K. hits was "68 Guns," but didn't chart in America until 1987 with "Presence of Love," which reached number 77 and proved to be the extent of their U.S. singles chart success. By that point in their career, the group had adopted a more electric guitar-based sound and had gravitated more toward the mainstream, but since U2 had hit the big time, the Alarm seemed too much like a pale imitation. The band tried something different on 1989's Change, which featured more traditional Celtic influences and a guest appearance from the Welsh Symphony Orchestra, but it proved to be too little too late. The Alarm broke up early in the '90s, and Mike Peters embarked on a solo career. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide