New Model Army

Small Town England

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Joining New Model Army's seminal 1984 debut, Vengeance, with a collection of tracks recorded for BBC Radio 1 around the same time, Small Town England is the ideal representation of the group's pre-Capitol/EMI output. Replete with original bassist Stuart Morrow, who gave singer/guitarist Justin Sullivan's charged anthems a dark, powerful bottom, this two-disc set chronicles a fiery post-punk band on the brink of greatness. Early singles like "Bittersweet" and "Vengeance" are preserved in all their glorious thump (thanks to merciless kitman Rob Heaton), but the real reward for diehards is in the rarely heard radio sessions. Comparing the studio versions of "Spirit of the Falklands" and "Great Expectations," the latter the band's breakthrough U.K. hit, to their rawer David Jensen and John Peel-spawned takes is exhilarating. When Sullivan barks, "I believe in getting the bastards," at a Thatcher-era radio audience, his intentions sound as pure today as they did when NMA clanged and crashed their way into our hearts.

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