Some qualifying dates for History: The Best of New Model Army are important, because before signing to the EMI label in 1985, New Model Army released three 45s on the indie Quiet and Abstract labels. You'll have to hunt the Internet for those, but all the A-sides of their major-label singles are present and accounted for here. The set kicks off with their debut for EMI, the ferocious "No Rest," whose B-side, "Heroin," incidentally, brought the band an immediate ban. However, that didn't stop the Army from storming into the Top 30 regardless. Not that the triumphant triumvirate cared -- the year may have been 1985, but these Army members were still training from the dog-eared pages of the punk manual, and the occasional ban could only cement their street cred. And the Army had plenty of that, delivered up in their blistering live performances, their sarcastic lyrics (as "Brave New World" evidenced), and their strong political stance -- "51st State" has even more bite today than it did back in 1986. At the time, it was Thatcher's kissing up to Reagan that set the Army frothing, but she proved unstoppable, and perhaps realizing their inevitable defeat, the band marched off the battlefield and joined the "Vagabonds" flooding from the cities into the valleys of "Green and Grey." Yet, New Model Army were occasionally roused to rail again, as on the incendiary "Get Me Out," before begging for their home to return to the "Purity" of old, or at least a "Space" they could call their own. The original vinyl release of this set included a bonus 12" single, comprised of four previously unreleased songs/versions. Unfortunately, the CD reissue dispenses with two of them, adding new impetus to the New Model Army collectors' market. One wishes that a second disc bundling up the B-sides had been added as well, but that wasn't to be, either. Fans will have to settle for this: all the hits from Britain's most legendary post-punk punks.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene