New Model Army tonight, in session for John Peel and recorded on December 14, 1983 and broadcast on January 4, 1984. Formed in 1980 by lead singer and composer Justin Sullivan, the band have been hard to pin-down as to any one genre. Although they began as Punk, and have their roots firmly based in that genre, they’ve been described as many other things – from post-Punk to Folk-Rock during their 35+ year career.
This session, which is listed as their first for John Peel (there is another one listed as a Peel session, but I haven’t seen a confirmation on it, nor a date – Peel aficionados: clarification and confirmation, if ya don’t mind), certainly displays their propensity for Punk – opening with Christian Militia , a more-than-worthy inclusion in Music For Angry Arts. It comes around the time of their debut singles, Bittersweet and Great Expectations and shortly ahead of their debut mini-album, Vengeance, which shot to Number 1 on the British charts.
With some 15 albums to their credit and a career still going strong, New Model Army have weathered personnel and direction changes – the death of Robert Heaton and a near-continuous rotation of band members which have made Singer-Composer-Founder Sullivan the only remaining original member of the band.
Not surprisingly, New Model Army didn’t make a big dent in the U.S. initially – most likely because they had been refused work permits to perform here early on. The Immigration and Naturalization honchos declared the band “having no artistic merit”, leading one to wonder who among the Feds was suddenly the music critic. They did however, finally get permits in 1986 and toured extensively to make up for lost time. Their claim of notoriety came again in 1993 when they issued their only album on Epic, The Love Of Hopeless Causes, which came packaged with instructions on making a nuclear device – a move which was good for denial of work permits yet again, but all was resolved as of 2008.
If you aren’t familiar with New Model Army, have a listen to this early (1983/4) session and check out their healthy and widespread catalog, which is still available.