New Model Army

Raw Melody Men

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This live offering captures the very essence of New Model Army: forceful, determined and uncompromising, the band played with a passion and fury equaled by few. The title of the album is an anagram of the band's name and a useful summation of their brew of punk and folk, punctuated by a driving bass with a dash of hard rock and atmospheric synth. Recorded on tour in Germany and England during the summer of 1990, 11 of the 16 songs are culled from the Impurity and Thunder and Consolation albums. Rather than being a comprehensive live history, this album is instead a snapshot of the band at what was to be the peak of their commercial success. Completists may be interested in combining this with the 2000 release And No One Else, as well as with the live tracks on the singles from this period. The intro to "Vagabonds" demonstrates the uplifting effect that violin player Ed Alleyne Johnson introduced to the New Model Army studio and stage sound. Standout moments include a blistering version of the anti-complacency anthem "Get Me Out," while "Lib. Ed," the truncated title of "A Liberal Education" from their debut album, is even more poignant and accusatory in communion with the band's legendary impassioned following. "Better Than Them," rendered here with just guitar and vocals from Justin Sullivan (aka Slade the Leveller), is compelling. Stark and haunting, a fine example of his universal folk songwriting. A band whose whole creed and vision was one of being aware, questioning, and conscious, are captured in this set. The album has excellent live sound quality, with the thundering, apocalyptic "The World" bringing the set to a fitting climax.

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