Best tunes of 1993: #21 New Model Army “Bad old world”

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New Model Army is yet another group to whom my friend Tim introduced me, but as opposed to the group who last appeared in this list, this meeting was more immediately successful. He put one of their tracks, “51st state”, on a mixed tape he made for me and its angry folk-punk and intelligent but subversive messaging appealed to my teenaged sensibilities. Then, seeing my interest piqued, he loaned me a CD copy of their 1992 singles compilation, “History”. From there, I was completely sold on the songwriting of Justin Sullivan and the dark and angry workings of his bandmates.

Indeed, it was almost as if it were all part of Tim’s ‘evil’ plotting because in the early part of the summer of 1993, the group was touring North America, complete with a stop in Toronto, and yours truly was a ready-made concert buddy. Nevertheless, it was to be my first ever concert* and to say I was excited was an understatement. I purchased a copy of their latest CD, “The love of hopeless causes”, in preparation and it quickly fell into heavy rotation.

“Bad old world” is the final track on that album, a real rocker to close things off, but what really makes the song notable is the lyrics and the way Sullivan sings them with such conviction. I’ve read that it was written as a sort of sequel to “Green and grey”, one of my favourite tunes off the band’s 1989 album “Thunder and consolation”. And I’m willing to bet that there’s something to this theory and it’s not just because New Model Army played the two songs back to back at that show back in 1993. It’s like the missing piece of the original song we didn’t know we needed but now that we’ve heard it, both songs are just more perfect.

“Green and grey” addresses a missing friend or brother, someone who left the protagonist behind to continue the fight alone. He sings of the brightness and optimism of youth and how nothing has changed where they grew up and there’s a sense of a feeling of betrayal and a lack of understanding for the departure. All this comes out in the form of a letter for which no reply was expected but yet “Bad old world” is that reply, nonetheless.

“Dear Justin, I know it’s been a long time
Remember all those nights we spent sitting up talking in your front room
About leaving this worn out world and starting again far away in a better place
Well that’s where I am now – but still thinking about you”

Where “Green and grey” is as wistful as its fiddle and as bitter as its foreshadowing storm, “Bad old world” is nostalgic in its delivery but also full of hope. The correspondent admits that he got out, leaving the bad old world behind, but he bears no shame and in fact, wants to share this sense of peace with his friend.

“I used to think it was me who’d somehow sold out
Or given in on some almighty cause,
But what difference would it make? It feels good to be out here.”

It truly is a wonderful counterpoint, a comparison of two lives that started at the same point but were then lived very differently.

*This is a story I’ve already regaled as part of my post on their 1990 track, “Vagabonds”, when it appeared at #9 on my best tunes list for that year.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.


Vinyl love: Weezer “Weezer”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Weezer
Album Title: Weezer
Year released: 1994
Year reissued: 2016
Details: Mobile Fidelity, limited edition, numbered 011775, 180 gram, transparent blue

The skinny: Just over three weeks ago, fellow blogger Super Dekes over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock posted a review of Weezer’s self-titled album (also widely-known as ‘the Blue album’) and mentioned how he had finally gotten a copy of it on vinyl the previous summer. Coincidentally, I had tracked down a vinyl copy of it myself that very week and when I told Deke so, he suggested I also write a review. Well, I figured one of my ‘Vinyl love’ posts would work just as well, so here we are. I actually saw Weezer live before I heard this album. They opened for shoe gazers Lush at Toronto’s Warehouse in the summer ’94 and at the time, I was only vaguely aware of “The sweater song”. Nonetheless, I was blown away by their set – all crunchy guitars and Beach Boys harmonies – and told Rivers Cuomo as much when I spotted him at the merch table. A friend of mine in university later dubbed a copy of the album for me to cassette and I played the hell out of it. This debut is still Weezer’s most successful piece of music in my books, a classic, and though I spent a few dollars more than did Deke, it was well worth it to procure this limited edition Mobile Fidelity release. They do such a great job all round, what with the remastering, the pressing, and the immaculate packaging. Splendid.

Standout track: “The world has turned and left me here”


Vinyl love: Levellers “Levellers”

(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)

Artist: Levellers
Album Title: Levellers
Year released: 1993
Year reissued: 2018
Details: 2 x LP, orange vinyl, includes bonus live disc

The skinny: After last week’s Vinyl Love post, this one seemed like a no-brainer. Levellers’ 1991 album, “Levelling the land“, resonated with me so deeply and became so ingrained in my soul that when a new album was released a couple of years later, in 1993, of course I was going to buy it. And it was love at first listen for me. It had all the hallmarks that made their previous record such a mainstay in my collection: the passion, the politics, and the fiddle. Levellers’ self-titled, third album is one my favourite out of all of the band’s releases and so when they decided to release a bunch of their albums on coloured vinyl back in 2018, this is the one for which I was on the hunt. Like last week’s focus, this reissue includes a bonus disc of a live recording of the album, though, it’s not as successful and likely won’t get very many spins on my turntable. Nonetheless, “Levellers” is a welcome addition to my vinyl collection, not just for the nostalgia but also for the interesting, alternate mixes to some of the songs.

Standout track: “This garden”