Música: Post Punk/Alternative Pop Rock
New Model Army had been kicking around nearly four years before their debut album finally appeared in 1984. How much had changed since punk had first emerged from the barricades back in 1976. Back then, bands who had formed mere weeks before were snatched up by major labels, but the punk scene had been reduced to ashes, and in the bleak post-punk period the labels chased their own tails in desperate search of the next big thing. And an unrepentant punk trio certainly wasn't considered "it." Yet, for those who continued to yearn for the fire and fury of yore, New Model Army was a rallying cry. Their debut album, Vengeance, was unapologetic, unreconstructed punk, a savage indictment of Thatcher's Britain which roared with unabating rage. "Is it a crime to want something else?/Is it a crime to believe something different," they demand to know in "Smalltown England," a scathing look at life in England's ever-more-conservative villages. "A Liberal Education" decries the loss of paradise and innocence and alludes to the collapse of the left, the self-destruction of the punk scene, and most of all the surrender of those who should care. "How could you be so stupid?," vocalist Slade the Leveller spits out with a bitterness that burns like bile. "Christian Militia" derides the rise of the born-agains in the U.S. and would itself be reborn (with new lyrics) as "Here Comes the War." "Notice Me" is a pitying sneer at those desperate for attention; "Spirit of the Falklands" was a belated condemnation of the war fever that swept Britain a couple of years earlier. New Model Army's targets were manifold and manifest. However, it was the title track that best summed up their philosophy: "I believe in justice/I believe in vengeance/I believe in getting the bastard." And when the trio went after whatever bastard they had set their sights on, there was little left but dust when they were done. This reissue of a reissue adds three remixes of this masterpiece. They're extraneous -- the original still stands as was -- but they do prove that no matter what indignities you subject it to, "Vengeance" is ferocious enough to stand up to it. More importantly, like the original reissue, this album also includes the group's earliest singles: their driving 1983 debut, "Bittersweet"; the searing, ironic "Great Expectations," released later that same year; and the pounding desire of "The Price," which appeared in late 1984. The B-sides are all here as well -- a real boon, as none of them ever appeared on album, while two 12" B-sides are also included, both taken from their radio session for Radio One DJ John Peel. Vengeance was one of the most breathtaking punk debuts in history; the group had plenty of time to get it right. They used that time well.