Come On Down and Wear Your Influences On Your Sleeve
“The Stand” by the Alaram from the EP The Alarm
Second week in July, 1983
Ahhhh, nostalgia. There is nothing like it.
Opening with dramatic guitar strums and a wailing harmonica, then kicking into a solidly rocking beat with a United Kingdom-accented Clash-meets-Soft Cell vocal style, The Alarm’s “The Stand” sounds very energetic and vaguely political. Just like… well, yes, just like U2. A great band that released some great music, with a lead singer who has leveraged rock stardom into an honest platform for public service. U2, I mean. Not The Alarm. Sorry, I digress.
The lyrics are full of interesting imagery, with “the walking dude, religious, in his worn down cowboy boots” who “had no name” just like… just like Clint Eastwood? Or maybe that other mysterious cowboy character, from a novel I read around this same time, with a darkly prophetic and mythological storyline. What book am I thinking of? “The black book in my hand” and “the seven vials open”? “The plague claimed man and son”? Oh, yeah! It was by Stephen King, and also, by some strange coincidence, entitled “The Stand”.
Well, then there’s the chorus, which — dang it. More than half of the lyric is borrowed from longtime “The Price Is Right” announcer Johnny Olson:
Come on down and meet your maker
Come on down and make the Stand
Come on down, come on down,
Come on down, and we’ll make the Stand
You remember “The Price is Right”, don’t you? It was a really great game show if you were an adolescent male in the eighties, because tube tops and strapless half-blouses were popular, and female contestants used to get all excited and bound on down to the stage in imminent danger of FCC violation. Plus, they had that cool mountain climber game, where a strange little cartoon guy in short pants would yodel his way up the alps and, if you were luckier than the contestant, fall off the peak to his bloody, frozen doom.
Sorry, I digress again. Where was I? What, exactly, are they making “the Stand” for? What sort of stand is it? Like, a lemonade stand? I kind of doubt that. I remember playing that great Apple ][ Lemonade Stand game in the early eighties, though. When the street was closed for construction on a hot day, you wouldn’t get any of your regular business, BUT the miserable simulated construction workers would willingly pay the maximum $99 for each glass of life-giving lemonade, while you laughed at their desperation and cashed in like a motherfucker. Sorry, where was I?Never mind, the song is over. What’s for lunch?
Best Part: Following up on this Shreek by revisiting the complete masterworks of U2, Stephen King, Bob Barker and Steve Wozniak.