I remember back in the mid-1980s, when bands like New Model Army were prevented by the State Department from entering the U.S. The reason? “Lack of artistic merit,” said Reagan’s flunkies. It was a bizarre time that saw other lefty bands, like the Angelic Upstarts, being banned for thinly-veiled political reasons rather than the usual drug busts or criminal records. Listening to Great Expectations: The Singles Collection it’s obvious that “artistic merit” couldn’t possibly have been the true reason they were banned; NMA were really about as musically threatening as the Alarm. Earnest, smart, and talented, their songs had a lot of sweeping guitars where pumped-up, in-your-face power chords would have been preferable (at least to my ears). In the end, NMA was really an electrified folk band, not unlike the Mekons, and their influence would later be felt in the anarcho-crusty songs of the best folk-punk band of the lot, the Levellers. Great Expectations is an excellent introduction to a band whose righteous anger was always on display, even if it wasn’t always manifested in the punk venom of other political bands like D.O.A. or the Dead Kennedys.