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Mambo Queen of the Sandstone City

The song:
Tom explains that according to Joolz this song about staying in Bradford was dedicated to her as answer to Ambition, which is about escaping Bradford. Joolz Denby is a poet, spoken word performer, novelist, painter, tattooist and Justin's best friend. They met in 1979, Joolz managed NMA in their early years and she has done the artwork for all their record sleeves.

Thank you, Tom!

Mambo Queen:
Joolz. (Amongst other things) Mambo can either be Cuban musical form and the dance corresponding to it, or a voodoo priestess, which makes somehow more sense to me.

Sandstone City:
Justin Sullivan's hometown of Bradford. There is sandstone in the area, which "has had a pronounced effect on the architecture of the city". It was used for building factories in the 19th century; the City Hall is a rather well-known sandstone building.
- Source: Wikipedia -

Today puritan refers to a person with rigid moral beliefs. Historically, Puritans were a group of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th century. Oliver Cromwell, the leader of the historical New Model Army, was a Puritan.
- Read more: Wikipedia

It seems that Joolz's poem "The Archangel Michael" refers to the same object:

I am in love with the Archangel Michael; the Goddess' warrior prince,
the soldier of glory; at my back he stands lambent, violent, pure;
the savage sweep of his great wings lock forward around me
as I struggle in the darkness seeking what he already
knows is truth and what I must find my own way to through pain and ruin.

My Archangel; not a man but a creature made of night and amber fire,
his golden eyes fixed on distances beyond my understanding or my little life
and he moves in the high places of the perilous World, his mouth a curved
unsmiling bow from which no arrow dare be loosed and his armour
gleams shadow-bronze chased in arabesques of purity.

Beautiful, beautiful Michael, as cruel as youth and as gentle as a brother's
kiss he comforts me as I weep and when my heart boils with blood:
His arm around my waist he holds me steady and we breathe together,
the angel and I, until the soft cool of dawn turns the hills to mist and memory.
He dwells in all lands, wherever I run to he follows and I see him in
the sea-foam or the mountain's brute escarpment.

He was in Africa, my Michael, when I tried to fight and lost, I brought him
home with me in a Congo fetish the Spear-Thrower.
N'kissi N'kondi he is called in the dust and terror, the nail studded
punisher of wrongdoers, reeking of wood-fires and spice, his old brown face
wick and radiant, more alive than the living,
filled with power and the hot push of fury.
I leave him water in a little black bowl sometimes, but he doesn't care.

All he cares about is justice, all Micheal cares about is justice and knowing that,
oh, knowing that, I am in love with the Archangel Michael,
I am in love with faith and beauty

Always faith and beauty.
- Source: Joolz's Spirit Stories CD (2008) -

Michael is one of the main angels in the bible, who leads gods's armies against the forces of the devil in the book of revelation (but as far as I know, he plays no particular role in the Puritans' belief). N'kissi N'Kondis are religious sculptures from the Congo that are believed to be home of spirits who can hunt down and attack witches or wrongdoers. They are often nail studded. The connection between these sculptures and the Christian archangel Micheal seems to be purely of Joolz's invention.
- Read more: Wikipedia on Archangel Michael and Nkondi -

The Congo River runs through several countries in Central Africa, amongst them the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) and the much smaller Republic of the Congo. The region was dominated by French, Belgian and Portugese colonial rule, so I have no clue how a puritan angel might have got there.
- Source: Wikipedia -

Probably pictures or sculptures of the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus and one of the central figures in Catholicism.

Mirror glass:
It is an old superstition in many countries that breaking a mirror will bring bad luck.

[ Back to Mambo Queen of the Sandstone City ]

March in September

Family and home are recurring topics in NMA's lyrics. Cf.
BD3, Dawn, Family, Family Life, Home, Inheritance, My People, No Mirror, No Shadow, and Twilight Home.

[ Back to March in September ]


Also spelled Marrakech. Chief city of southern Morocco, North Africa. It lies in the centre of a fertile, irrigated plain.

[ Back to Marrakesh ]

Marry the Sea

The song:
Written in the sand dunes above Filey beach and recorded by Justin in a backroom of Amazon Studio when no one was looking . . .
- Source: B-Sides and Abandoned Tracks booklet -

In two weeks' time, with any luck, I should be in the sea, because that's where I love to be best; lying around on a surfboard - I can't surf, when a big wave comes I fall off. In fact, surfing down the waves is sort of OK, but wipeouts actually feel better, when the wave smashes you that actually feels better.
- Source: Justin Sullivan, 21/08/98, Sumpfblume, Hameln -

Some years ago I was doing one of my periodical spiritual things, looking for God and all that. And I decided it would be a really good idea to go and stay in a monastery, so I did. I chose Ampleforth Monastery, somewhere near York. And I stayed there about three days. I had problems, because they got up early in the morning, monks - and I don't. I stayed there for three days and then ran away. It felt like running away from school. And I ran away to Filey beach, which compared to Ampleforth seemed like Heaven. And I lay in the sand dunes and I wrote this song. This is for all the true romantics that are here tonight.
- Source: Justin Sullivan, Red Sky Coven, 15/03/99, Hop and Grape, Manchester -

Filey is a small place at the east coast of England, in North Yorkshire.

Other songs about the sea are Big Blue, Happy to be Here, North Star, Ocean Rising, Southwest, Sun On Water, Twilight Home and Wipeout.

[ Back to Marry the Sea ]

Master Race

Far-ranging flying bombs. 51st State protests against the stationing of American missiles on English ground, but most countries in the world possess missiles.

Master race:
An important part of Nazi ideology in the Germany of 1933-45 was that the Germans belonged to a superior Aryan race, the master race. This ideology justified the actual breeding of pure Aryans in the "Lebensborn" ("spring of life"), eugenics (the murdering of millions of people with "inferior" genes, mainly mentally ill persons), the genocide of millions of Jews and East Europeans, and the ruthless expansionary policy that led to World War II. Here, I guess, the term refers to the feeling of superiority that the white population of the western world displays.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

[ Back to Master Race | Back to My Country ]

Masters of War

The song:
Justin started to play this song when in 2003 the USA and their "coaliton of the willing" attacked Iraq without backing from the UN, allegedly because Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (no satisfactory evidence for this claim was given before the war, and until today no such weapons have been found) and because Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein supported Bin Laden's al-Qaeda (which no serious expert on the Islam has ever thought likely). No war opponent denies that Saddam Hussein's regime was responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people and that it is a good thing that Hussein was overthrown. However, while the war was declared over after only 6 weeks, fighting still goes on and is unlikely to cease in the near future. So far, depending on sources, 70,000 to 655,000 civilians have been killed as direct or indirect result (such as lack of water or health care) of the war and the ensuing outburst of violence, and according to intelligence reports the Iraq War has increased terrorist activities throughout the whole world.
- Read more: Wikipedia entries on Iraq War and Human Rights in Saddam Hussein's Iraq -

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Memphis, Tennessee

The song:
As far as I know, only played once as a tribute to Chuck Berry (18/10/1926-18/03/2017).

[ Back to Memphis, Tennessee ]

The Mermaid

The song:
When you grow up you know loads of folk songs, well some people do, and I grew with some particular folk songs that I knew off by heart and when we first started touring, you would have a few beers and you would be driving home in the van and you just start singing because that's what people do. We used to sing that one and a few others. When we were recording the EP 'White Coats', we'd gone down to the pub and it was a very nice event, we had spent three or four days in the studio and we had come back and we'd had Sunday diner and everybody was feeling good and we just started singing the song. The engineer had recorded it and we could only remember three verses so that is why it cuts off.
- Source: Robert Heaton in Chris Benn's Chinese Whispers - NMA FAQ -

The Mermaid is a ballad dating to around the mid 1700s. It was first collected among English and Scottish ballads as well as their American variants by the American scholar Francis James Child (1825-1896) in the late 19th century. Like many old or traditional songs, there are several different versions of the lyrics.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

Sailors considered it bad luck to set sail on a Friday, the day Jesus was crucified.

While there a several places named Salem, most likely this refers to Salem in Massachusetts, a town at the North American east coast founded in 1626.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

Now part of New York City, Brooklyn was originally founded by Dutch settlers in 1646.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

[ Back to The Mermaid ]

Minnie the Moocher

To mooch is slang for "loiter in a bored or listless manner" and "ask for or obtain (something) without paying for it".
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

Hooch or hootch is "alcoholic liquor, especially inferior or illicit whisky". Cooch is a vulgar term for woman.
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English and leo.org -

A user of cocaine.
- Source: Wikipedia -

There are Chinatowns all over the world, urban regions containing a large population of Chinese people within a non-Chinese society. The song probably means the largest Chinatown in the western world, in Manhattan, New York City.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

Kick the gong around:
Slang reference to smokiing opium.
- Source: Wikipedia -

[ Back to Minnie the Moocher ]


In Greek mythology, the daughter of Priam, the last king of Troy. Cassandra was loved by the god Apollo, who promised her the power of prophecy if she would comply with his desires. Cassandra accepted the proposal, received the gift, and then refused the god her favours. Apollo revenged himself by ordaining that her prophecies should never be believed. She accurately predicted such events as the fall of Troy and the death of Agamemnon, but her warnings went unheeded. In the distribution of the spoils after the capture of Troy, Cassandra fell to Agamemnon and was later murdered with him.
- Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica - Read more: Wikipedia -

Caesars Mall:
A very luxurious shopping mall in Las Vegas, USA.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

[ Back to Mixam ]

Modern Times

The song:
"In one way, this was a hard song to write - lyrically about facing up to the failure of all the idealistic dreams and causes of my youth, but I guess everything has its time and I remember that the song just came about easily in a back room while we were recording The Love of Hopeless Causes."
- Source: Justin Sullivan in Anthology booklet -

Justin has often named 'Modern Times' as one of his favourite NMA songs.

Modern Times is also the title of a very well-known movie by Charlie Chaplin that was released in 1936. It criticises the hardships and poverty that a majority of working people face in the industrialised society.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

Originally, a shell shock is a "psychological disturbance caused by prolonged exposure to active warfare, especially being under bombardment."
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

Give unto Caesar what is due:
Biblical reference: "Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's."
- Source: The Bible. Matthew, 22.21 -

On the NMA Noticeboard Shush points out that this is also one of several possible references to the English Civil war from 1642-1650. The war started when King Charles I declared his divine right to rule by raising a standard saying 'Give Caesar His Due'. This way Justin's personal memories would be compared to historical events.
- Source: User Shush on NMA Forum -

New Jerusalem:
is today the capital and largest city of Israel. It is a sacred town in the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths. Christians believe that a New Jerusalem, a physical or spiritual reconstruction of the historical town, will appear on earth after Judgement Day as the paradisiacal place where all true believers will spend eternity with God. Poet William Blake expresses the idea that the New Jerusalem will be built in England.
- Read more: Wikipedia entries on Jerusalem and New Jerusalem -

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Monster Mash

The song:
This cover of a Bobby Pickett song was used as a fun introduction to the song Betcha. Recorded from the mixing desk (soundboard) during the Vengeance tour, Justin shows his talents at giving fine Boris Karloff impersonation. This little snippet shows a light hearted side of the band that I don't think is seen too often in many of the later performances.
- Source: Chris Benn's BD7 site -

"A corpse supposed, in European folklore, to leave its grave at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long pointed canine teeth."
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

"An evil spirit or phantom, especially one supposed to rob graves and feed on dead bodies."
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

Invented by Victorian novelist Bram Stoker, the Transylvanian Count Dracula is the prototype of all vampires. A few lines further down, "Drac" also refers to him. According to the myth, Dracula has a coffin for a bed.

A stock character in horror movies, the hunch-backed lab assistant to the mad scientist.
- Source: Wikipedia -

[ Back to Monster Mash ]

The Muppet Show Theme

Muppet Show:
A famous American TV-programm featuring hand-operated puppets, originally aired 1976-1981.
- Read more: Wikipedia -

[ Back to The Muppet Show Theme ]

My Country

The song:
Patriotism is a natural feeling. You love your country, not because you think it's better than anywhere else but because it's home and your culture. Just because you're proud of your country though, that doesn't mean you want to fight everyone else. You just want to fight to make your country decent to live in.
- Source: Justin Sullivan in an interview in 1985 -

This might be pure chance, but maybe the patriotism, the refusal to be divided and the reference to the gains "of all our grandmothers, grandfathers before" link this song to John Dickinson's 'Liberty Song'.

United Nations:
Short: UN. International organization established in 1945. Its primary purpose is to maintain international peace and security. Other important objectives include developing friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples; achieving worldwide cooperation to solve international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems; respecting and promoting human rights; and serving as a centre where nations can coordinate their actions and activities toward these various ends.
- Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica - Read more: Wikipedia -

Never say die:
A phrase "used to encourage someone not to give up hope in a difficult situation".
- Source: The New Oxford Dictionary of English -

Common Laws:
The body of customary law, based upon judicial decisions and embodied in reports of decided cases, which has been administered by the common-law courts of England since the Middle Ages.
- Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica -

[ Back to My Country | Back to Masters of War | Back to Shot 18 | Back to States Radio ]

My People

The song:
Like "Arm Yourselves and Run" a song about the wars in former Yugoslavia.
"[. . .] it does interest me to write from different angles, to write from the point of view of people I don't agree with, 'The Hunt' or 'My People, Right Or Wrong' are deeply politically suspect, but that's real. That's how people feel. It's worthy of a song."
- Source: Justin Sullivan interview with The Quietus -

My people right or wrong:
The phrase "My country, right or wrong" goes back to 1816, but is often attributed to Carl Schurz, who in 1872 said "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right!" It is an expression of patriotism and often unthinking jingoism (extreme patriotism).
- Source: Wiktionary -

Once again a reference to (blood or chosen) family, like BD3, Dawn, Familiy, Family Life, Home, Inheritance,
March in September, No Mirror, No Shadow and Twilight Home.

[ Back to My People ]

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15/12/13; last update 17/06/17