The New Model Army Saga: Unleashing the Power of Small Town England
The New Model Army Saga: Unleashing the Power of Small Town England

The New Model Army Saga: Unleashing the Power of Small Town England

Discover the rich history, evolution, and timeless music of New Model Army, an iconic band that has shaped the punk and alternative rock landscape.


In the ever-evolving world of music, certain bands rise above the rest, carving out a unique niche and leaving an indelible mark on the industry. New Model Army is undeniably one of those bands. Formed in the tumultuous crucible of the late 1970s, this English group has not only survived but thrived over the decades. In this article, we will take an in-depth journey into the world of New Model Army, exploring their history, musical evolution, key personnel, essential albums, top tracks, discography, legacy, and critical acclaim.

History and Development

The story of New Model Army begins in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in 1980. The band was founded by lead singer and songwriter Justin Sullivan, along with drummer Rob Waddington and bassist Stuart Morrow. From the very beginning, they stood out in the punk and post-punk scenes. The name “New Model Army” itself was inspired by the 17th-century revolutionary army led by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. This historical reference foreshadowed the band’s rebellious spirit and revolutionary sound.

New Model Army’s early years were marked by a DIY ethos and a determination to create music that was both socially conscious and musically innovative. They released their debut album, “Vengeance,” in 1984, which immediately garnered attention for its politically charged lyrics and a unique blend of punk, folk, and rock influences. The album’s standout track, “Christian Militia,” remains a defining anthem of the era.

Over the years, the band’s lineup has seen changes, but Justin Sullivan has remained the driving force and heart of New Model Army. His distinctive vocals, coupled with his poignant and thought-provoking lyrics, have been a constant throughout the band’s journey.

Type of Music

New Model Army’s music defies easy categorization. They have been described as a punk band, a folk-rock band, and an alternative rock band—all of which are true to varying degrees. Their sound is a unique fusion of punk’s rebellious energy, folk’s storytelling tradition, and rock’s raw power. This eclectic blend has made them difficult to pigeonhole but also immensely appealing to a diverse range of listeners.

Their music is characterized by its anthemic quality, often featuring powerful, melodic hooks that stay with you long after the song has ended. Lyrically, they explore themes of social justice, political activism, and personal introspection, offering listeners a thought-provoking experience with each song.

Key Personnel

While Justin Sullivan has been the face and voice of New Model Army, several key personnel have contributed to the band’s sound and success over the years. Some notable members include:

  1. Robert Heaton (1959-2004): Heaton was the band’s drummer and co-founder, known for his dynamic and energetic drumming style. He played a crucial role in shaping the band’s sound until his untimely passing in 2004.
  2. Nelson (Nelson Slater): Nelson Slater joined the band in the late ’80s as the bassist and brought his own unique style to New Model Army’s music.
  3. Michael Dean: Michael Dean, the band’s guitarist, contributed significantly to their distinctive guitar-driven sound. His creative guitar work added depth and texture to their songs.

Essential Albums

New Model Army’s discography is filled with remarkable albums, each with its own unique flavor. Here are some essential albums that have defined their career:

  1. “Vengeance” (1984): This debut album remains a classic in the band’s catalog, featuring tracks like “Christian Militia” and “Smalltown England.” It set the tone for their socially conscious and musically adventurous approach.
  2. “Thunder and Consolation” (1989): Often regarded as their masterpiece, this album combines introspective ballads with anthemic rockers, showcasing the band’s versatility. Tracks like “Vagabonds” and “Green and Grey” are standout examples.
  3. “The Love of Hopeless Causes” (1993): This album continued to push their musical boundaries, incorporating elements of folk and alternative rock. “Here Comes the War” and “Purity” are standout tracks.
  4. “Between Dog and Wolf” (2013): In a testament to their enduring creativity, New Model Army released this album in their fourth decade as a band. It’s a daring and experimental record that earned critical acclaim.
  5. “From Here” (2019): Their most recent album reaffirms their relevance in the 21st century. It’s a mature and reflective work that captures the band’s evolution over the years.

Essential Tracks

While New Model Army is known for their albums, their individual tracks are equally impressive. Here are some essential tracks that have left an indelible mark:

  1. “Vagabonds”: A hauntingly beautiful song that showcases Justin Sullivan’s emotive vocals and lyrical prowess.
  2. “51st State”: An anthemic anthem that reflects on the state of the world and personal freedom.
  3. “Here Comes the War”: A powerful and thought-provoking track that addresses the turmoil of the modern world.
  4. “Stupid Questions”: A punk-infused gem that captures the band’s rebellious spirit.
  5. “No Rest”: A classic New Model Army track that has become an anthem for fans worldwide.


New Model Army’s discography is a testament to their enduring creativity and commitment to their craft. Here’s a comprehensive list of their studio albums:

  1. “Vengeance” (1984)
  2. “No Rest for the Wicked” (1985)
  3. “The Ghost of Cain” (1986)
  4. “Thunder and Consolation” (1989)
  5. “Impurity” (1990)
  6. “The Love of Hopeless Causes” (1993)
  7. “Strange Brotherhood” (1998)
  8. “Eight” (2000)
  9. “Carnival” (2005)
  10. “High” (2007)
  11. “Today Is a Good Day” (2009)
  12. “Between Dog and Wolf” (2013)
  13. “Winter” (2016)
  14. “From Here” (2019)


New Model Army’s legacy is a multifaceted one. They have not only left an indelible mark on the music industry but have also inspired generations of fans and musicians. Their music continues to resonate with listeners who appreciate thoughtful, socially conscious lyrics and powerful melodies.

In addition to their musical contributions, the band’s longevity and dedication to their craft serve as an inspiration to aspiring musicians. They have shown that artistic integrity and a commitment to one’s principles can lead to a lasting and impactful career in the music industry.

Significant Reviews

Over the years, New Model Army has received critical acclaim for their albums and live performances. Here are a few significant reviews that highlight the band’s influence and importance:

  1. “New Model Army’s ‘Thunder and Consolation’ is a towering achievement in the realm of alternative rock, combining raw emotion with musical innovation.” – Rolling Stone
  2. “Justin Sullivan’s lyrics have the power to move mountains, and ‘The Love of Hopeless Causes’ is a testament to his songwriting prowess.” – NME
  3. “New Model Army’s ‘Between Dog and Wolf’ is a daring and experimental record that challenges the boundaries of punk and rock.” – Pitchfork
  4. “Their live shows are a testament to the band’s enduring energy and connection with their audience, making them one of the best live acts in the world.” – The Guardian
  5. “In a world filled with disposable music, New Model Army’s longevity and commitment to their craft are a beacon of hope for true music enthusiasts.” – Mojo Magazine

Similar acts

If you’re a fan of New Model Army and are looking for similar bands that share elements of their music, lyrical depth, or overall ethos, you’re in luck. Here are a few bands and artists that might pique your interest:

  1. The Levellers: Hailing from England like New Model Army, The Levellers blend folk, punk, and rock elements into their music. They are known for their socially conscious lyrics and anthemic sound. Albums like “Levelling the Land” and “Folklore” are great starting points.
  2. The Men They Couldn’t Hang: Another English band, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, incorporates folk, punk, and alternative rock influences into their music. Their songwriting often delves into political and historical themes. Check out albums like “Night of a Thousand Candles” and “How Green Is the Valley.”
  3. The Alarm: This Welsh band shares New Model Army’s anthemic sound and lyrical focus on social and political issues. Their album “Declaration” is a classic in the alternative rock genre.
  4. Billy Bragg: Known for his passionate folk-punk music and thought-provoking lyrics, Billy Bragg has a similar socio-political edge to New Model Army. Albums like “Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy” and “Talking with the Taxman about Poetry” are essential listens.
  5. The Waterboys: With a sound that fuses folk, rock, and Celtic influences, The Waterboys have created music that resonates emotionally and intellectually. Albums like “Fisherman’s Blues” and “This Is the Sea” showcase their diverse style.
  6. Spear of Destiny: Led by Kirk Brandon, Spear of Destiny is known for their powerful post-punk and alternative rock sound. Their album “World Service” is a standout example of their work.
  7. The Wonder Stuff: Mixing indie rock and folk influences, The Wonder Stuff has a similar alternative sound to New Model Army. Their album “The Eight Legged Groove Machine” is a classic of the genre.
  8. The Pogues: While primarily known for their Irish folk punk, The Pogues’ socially conscious and sometimes politically charged lyrics align with New Model Army’s ethos. Albums like “Rum Sodomy & the Lash” are iconic in their catalog.
  9. Stiff Little Fingers: If you’re drawn to the punk side of New Model Army, Stiff Little Fingers is a seminal punk band from Northern Ireland. Their album “Inflammable Material” is a punk classic.
  10. Gang of Four: Known for their post-punk sound and socially critical lyrics, Gang of Four’s albums like “Entertainment!” and “Solid Gold” offer a unique listening experience.

New Model Army Live: A Powerhouse of Energy and Passion

Live music has the unparalleled ability to capture the essence of a band’s spirit, laying bare their raw talent and energy. When it comes to New Model Army, their live performances are nothing short of legendary. In this article, we will delve into the electrifying world of New Model Army live shows, exploring what makes them so captivating, recounting some memorable moments, and celebrating the band’s unwavering commitment to connecting with their audience.

The Electric Connection

New Model Army’s live performances are a testament to their enduring connection with their fans. From small, intimate venues to massive festival stages, the band’s ability to create an electric atmosphere is nothing short of extraordinary. The moment the lights dim and Justin Sullivan’s distinctive voice fills the air, the crowd becomes one with the music.

The band’s stage presence is characterized by a sense of urgency and authenticity that sets them apart. Justin Sullivan’s passionate delivery of the lyrics, coupled with his trademark guitar work, creates an immersive experience that resonates with fans of all ages. The synergy between band members is palpable, as they feed off each other’s energy to deliver powerful, memorable performances.

Memorable Live Moments

New Model Army has a rich history of memorable live moments that have become the stuff of legend among their devoted fan base. Here are a few standout moments that encapsulate the band’s live prowess:

  1. Glastonbury Festival (1989): New Model Army’s performance at the Glastonbury Festival in 1989 is often cited as one of their most iconic moments. Playing to a massive audience, they delivered an electrifying set that solidified their reputation as an exceptional live act. The crowd’s response was nothing short of euphoric.
  2. “Vagabonds” at Rock City: The live rendition of “Vagabonds,” one of the band’s most beloved tracks, is a spine-tingling experience. Justin Sullivan’s emotive vocals and the haunting melody resonate deeply with the audience, creating an unforgettable moment of connection.
  3. Anniversary Shows: New Model Army has a tradition of celebrating significant milestones with special live shows. Their 30th-anniversary concert at the London Forum in 2010 stands out as a momentous occasion, featuring a career-spanning setlist that thrilled longtime fans and newcomers alike.
  4. The Intimate Gigs: While the band is known for their electrifying festival appearances, their intimate gigs in smaller venues hold a special place in fans’ hearts. These shows allow for a close and personal connection between the band and the audience, creating a unique atmosphere of camaraderie.

The Evolving Setlist

One of the remarkable aspects of New Model Army’s live performances is their ever-evolving setlist. Unlike bands that stick to a rigid routine, New Model Army keeps their shows fresh by regularly incorporating new songs, deep cuts, and surprises into their sets. This approach ensures that even longtime fans are treated to something unexpected at each concert.

The band’s willingness to experiment with their live repertoire speaks to their artistic integrity and commitment to delivering a unique experience to their audience. Whether they’re performing tracks from their latest album or revisiting classics from their extensive catalog, each song is imbued with passion and authenticity.

Fan Interaction

New Model Army’s live shows are not just about the music; they are also a platform for meaningful fan interaction. The band has a reputation for being accessible and approachable, often taking the time to meet fans after gigs. This personal touch fosters a sense of community among their fan base, creating a loyal and dedicated following.

Furthermore, the band’s lyrics, which often touch on themes of social justice and personal introspection, resonate deeply with their audience. This shared connection between the band and their fans transforms their live shows into a space for collective reflection and catharsis.

New Model Army

New Model Army’s journey from the gritty streets of Bradford to the international stage is a testament to their talent, determination, and unwavering commitment to their principles. Their music continues to inspire and resonate with listeners of all generations, making them a timeless force in the world of punk and alternative rock. As we look back on their rich history and diverse discography, it’s clear that New Model Army has left an indelible mark on the music industry, and their legacy will continue to shape the sound of rebellion for years to come.

  1. Official New Model Army Website: For the latest news, tour dates, and official merchandise, readers can visit the official New Model Army website.
  2. New Model Army on Spotify: Readers who want to explore the band’s extensive discography can listen to their music on Spotify.
  3. New Model Army on AllMusic: AllMusic offers a comprehensive biography, discography, and critical reviews of New Model Army. Readers can learn more about the band’s history and music on their AllMusic page.