"Sold Me Down The River" - The Alarm
from the album Change (1989)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #50
This week's "robbed hit" comes from the Welsh alternative rock band the Alarm, who went from being a punk band dubbed the Toilets to a regional version of the culture-infused rock that gave acts like Irishmen U2 and Scotsmen Big Country their distinctive edge. Forming in the northern beach town of Rhyl, and renaming themselves the Alarm in the early 80s, their first minor hit single, "The Stand" (#86, UK), came from a self-titled EP, before their debut full-length album would be released a year later. That record, Declaration, was a defiant collection of rock songs, with "68 Guns" landing them at #17 as their first and so-far highest-charting British top-40 hit, and crossing the Atlantic to go to #39 on Billboard's American Mainsteram Rock radio chart (the single also "bubbled under" the chartmakers' pop hot 100 list in the U.S.)
In 1985, the Alarm released their sophomore effort Strength, which ended up on the top-selling album chart in the States. The lead single and title track from the set went to #12 on the American rock list, and became their first to tackle the pop chart at #61. The sparse and raw production on this record would end up going away by their next album, Eye Of The Hurricane. The first single from the album, "Rain In The Summertime", was a lush modern rock exercise that reached the American rock top 10 for the first time at #6 in 1987, and came a notch under what "68 Guns" did in the UK at #18. Two years later, their fourth studio release, Change, came out, with another mainstream hook-heavy song, "Sold Me Down The River", ready to promote the set. Written by lead singer Mike Peters and bassist Eddie MacDonald, the song (and album) was also released in their native Welsh...
While "Sold Me Down The River" climbed all the way to #2 on Billboard's Mainsteram Rock radio chart, they stopped at the half-way mark on their pop Hot 100 chart in November of 1989. It was their first to get to the newly-minted Modern Rock chart, spending two weeks at #3. In the UK, the single made it to #43 (a robbed hit there as well). However, in Britain their second offering, the double-sided "A New South Wales"/"The Rock" returned them to the top-40 at #31. In the U.S., from the Change album "Devolution Workin' Man Blues" scored them a second top-10 Mainstream Rock hit at #9, while stopping at #11 on the modern rock list. A third track promoted in America and Britain, "Love Don't Come Easy", stopped at #3 on the Mainstream Rock chart, and #48 in the UK.
After a hits set that would give the band another top-10 Modern Rock hit with "The Road" (#7 Mod Rock, #16 Main Rock). Peters would stay on for one more album, Raw, which gave the Alarm their most recent American success with the title track (#15 Modern Rock, #29 Mainstream Rock, #51 UK). Peters would go on to pursue a solo career, before returning with the band in 2004 under the alias of "The Poppyfields" for "45RPM", which made the British top-40 at #28. Two years later, now as "Alarm MMVI", they again had a top-40 UK hit with "Superchannel" (#24 UK). During that time Peters was also fighting cancer, a form of leukemia that so far has been successful and inspires his charity work. Between 2011 and 2013, he also sung lead for the aforementioned Scottish band Big Country. He carries on the Alarm name touring with a completely different lineup than from their heyday.
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In 2005, the original members of the Alarm appeared on VH1's Bands Reunited for a one-off show...