New Model Army - Anthology
Cult UK rockers New Model Army have been plying their trade for 30 years now and to celebrate they've unleashed their Anthology album to the world. The collection is available in three different formats: a mouth-watering, deluxe 10 inch square box set featuring three live DVDs, a trio of CDs, 80 page hardback photo book, jigsaw, stencil and art prints for the die hard followers; a basic version of the package including the DVDs and CDs but without the added goodies for slightly poorer fans; and a double CD version for new converts, the curious and lapsed Army listeners wanting to dip their toes in the NMA pool again.
New Model Army have always had a loyal fan base from their post-punk beginnings through to today, with the band's popularity growing immensely around the time of their second studio album No Rest For The Wicked, released in 1985, with NMA even gracing the Top Of The Pops studios with their presence around the time to perform hit single "No Rest". Success continued for the band throughout the 80s, with their 1989 album Thunder And Consolation probably their most commercial release. By this time the band had secured a hardcore fanbase, a motley bunch of punks, grebos, goths and any other cult that wanted to join in, with a host of them happily hitchhiking their way around the UK to take in numerous NMA shows. The band's spotlight slightly faded during the 90s but they continued gigging away, playing to excitable audiences around the globe and releasing countless albums during the years that followed, with 2009's Today Is A Good Day a fantastic, aggressive and passionate collection that showed the band were still really on form 29 years down the line!
Anthology isn't a "Greatest Hits" as such, more a compilation hand-picked by past and present band members showcasing the best of the what the band has had to offer over their 30 years in the business. There are a few obvious selections that haven't made the cut - at least on the two disc release - but the collection does show that NMA frontman Justin Sullivan has penned more than a few memorable songs over the years. New Model Army have always been known for their dynamic and powerful uptempo rock tracks, with several on display on here including "Christian Militia", "Whitecoats" and last year's "Mambo Queen of the Sandstone City" but they're also revered for their slower material and have played countless acoustic sets over the years showcasing this side of the band. Tracks like "A Liberal Education", "Better Than Them" and "Marry the Sea" all spotlight this well but it's 1989's "Green and Gray" that's the real stand out for me - a huge emotional anthem of a track that sounds as good to me now as it did when I first heard it over 20 years ago.
If you've overlooked the Army in recent times this compilation is certainly worth a listen, especially if you're only familiar with their older material as their newer output suggests a band that has remained consistent, and interesting musically, for three decades. Quite an achievement!