Wednesday, July 25, 2012

veering away from the New Wave to that postpostpunk moment i've sometimes dubbed the Bad Music Era,  Cathy Unsworth's trawl at Quietus through the circa 84 records that influenced her new novel reminded me that I'm not sure if I ever actually heard New Model Army

straining my memory-muscles, no aural image of their sound came to mind beyond a vague sense of a sort of stocky stalwart stompiness or do i mean stumpiness....

and so i turn to the memory-machine

Ah! I recognise that first tune. And the general sense was pretty on the ball. Sort of vaguely folky but without any actual direct reference to the traditional musics of the British Isles.

The look of the band, more than the sound, reminds me of one of my earliest assignments as a cub reporter at Melody Maker, going to review Balaam and the Angel.

An odd period of music in the U.K. -- after postpunk and New Pop, a shift back to rockiness but without fully mastering the basic skill set that underpinned British hard rock / heavy rock in the first half of the Seventies

particularly evident (here I ventriloquise  Carducci) in the rhythm sections

at best they would be merely solid, pounding away insistently...   at worst a dirge-trudge ... or mock-tribal tom tom scuttling motion

compare Budgie

to The Cult

the former smokes and swings...  the latter has this irritating giddy-up cantering motion... like a nine stone weakling version of Iron Maiden (and yeah, they had a song about Red Indians too...)

Cult got slightly more convincing by the time of the Rick Rubin album, when they were explicitly referencing the early 70s Brit (and Commonwealth) greats like Free and AC/DC, but it was still ersatz... and the drummer is just a steady plod, might as well as be a drum machine

1 comment:

  1. Re, New Model Army. Going by recollection, I'd also be hard-pressed to remember what they sounded like. Seems like they were like a number of UK bands of the time -- didn't gain much traction on this side of the pond, despite a considerable degree of label promo hype.

    As I recall, their main claim to distinction was that they at one point they tried to tour in the US but were denied entry due to "failure to prove artistic merit." Which their label immediately turned into an ad campaign, as if in itself constituted some sort of artistic merit. When in fact it was just the random enforcement of asinine Reagan-era policies about such stuff. (A fair number of notable "world-music" artists encountered the same problem around that time, as I remember).

    The Three Johns, maybe? As I recall, they started out in the post-punk style of (as Chuck Eddy put it) "Gang of Four, but with a sense of humor" and were something of a prototype for Big Black, but by the end their sound had tilted slightly more more to a more conventional "rock" sound in some respects.