Saturday, November 1, 2008

power in the darkness

EMI 2715.

From Wiki:
"The band hit the club scene right in the middle of London's punk explosion. Their live shows got favourable reviews, and soon A&R men were
attending many of their gigs. There was one small problem - a song in the band's set called Glad To Be Gay. Even the punk independents shied away from this one. Stiff Records president Jake Riviera went as far as to refer to their music as fucking queer music."

Written by Tom Robinson. Recorded at Wessex Studio, London. Produced By Chris Thomas. Engineered by Bill Price.

Tom Robinson: bass, vocals; Brian 'Dolphin' Taylor: drums, vocals; Danny Kustow: guitar, vocals; Mark Ambler: organ.

Not quite in the same league as Jonathan Richman's "Roadrunner" - how could it be ? - but a good stab at striking a positive note from a curiously British perspective. I have always liked Tom Robinson; no matter what Jake Riviera allegedly went on record as saying. Fuck him.

Have you ever seen the 1978 Brit film, "Scum" ? The vegetarian Bolshevik in that movie was essentially Tom Robinson in caricature.

I did get pissed, though, when that fervent self-belief and advocacy of justice got hi-jacked by bland, politically correct motherf@ckers in the 1980s; let it be said. Men and women in suits. Regional councils.

Motherf@cking bureaucracy.

I have no interest in dressing up like Winnie Mandela. Halloween is over.

TOM ROBINSON BAND: 2-4-6-8 MOTORWAY from "2-4-6-8 Motorway b/w I Shall Be Released *" 45 (EMI) 1977 (UK)

TOM ROBINSON BAND: POWER IN THE DARKNESS from "Power In The Darkness" LP (EMI) 1978 (UK)

* Originally dedicated to the 'Free George Ince Campaign'



Brushback said...

Yeah, good songs. Very '70s production and playing, but damn good songs.

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

Back when pubs would put a mix tape on for you if you and enough buddies were guaranteed to spend hundreds of dollars on booze tapes with a Tom Robinson song or two on them were often played as we drank away the night. If you can picture a dozen punks, skinheads and bikers singing Glad To Be Gay you can imagine how popular we all were in 1980.

ib said...

I can imagine. I remember singing the same song on the street on a busy Glasgow Friday afternoon in 1978 or 9. That "Martin" EP was quite brilliant. I succeeded in drawing the wrath of several commuters armed with furled umbrellas.

Your driver said...

Ha! I was going to say, imagine a bunch of drunk midwestern punks singing Glad To Be Gay in in 1979. As influential as Tom Robinson was it's a shame he disappeared. Does anybody remember the book, "The Boy Looked At Johnny"? Copies of that were passed from hand to hand among my friends. The first punk rock book, man! Tom Robinson will be king and Poly Styrene will be queen! I was pleased to see this one.

ib said...

Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill were gutter press media darlings then, I remember. It was a famous publication. Tom is still ok. There is a site of his somewhere out there where he has put a couple of complete albums up for download. "War Baby" is amongst those tracks.

I believe I caught mention of it up on WZJN's "Got The Fever".

No smiley, John, but: ;)

Your driver said...

Well, I love that image of drunk kids in three very different places singing "Glad To Be Gay". Julie Burchill is still around. She's a fairly nutty defender of Israel, but I read a good article she wrote in defense of "Neds" and Lady Sovereign. I'm assuming she's making a living off professional contrarianism. Parson, her great love, has fallen off my radar. Do you ever hear anything about him?

ib said...

Yeah. Julie, as you point out, landed a column with one of the big Sunday broadsheets. Tony Parsons has had fiction published, of the "football is the last bastion of the working class male" variety. Very Nick Hornby. Earnest, and full of intentional humour, but a tad bland.

ib said...

I always preferred Lester Bangs to our own contrived version of royalty.

For homegrown talent, I'd rather read Nick Kent; Giovanni Dadomo; Nick Cohn; and others who have since dropped off my age challenged memory map.

ib said...

Footnote: in case you missed it, Jon, follow the link to the Barry Cain - of 'Record Mirror' - Q&A in the wake of his "77 Sulphate Strip" publication to Planet Mondo. I added the link at the foot of the "isgodaman ?" Dadomo post after it was brought to my attention. A really interesting read.

Your driver said...

Well, to tell the truth, my friends and I were earnest, bookish kids. We could drink and drug as heavily as the hoodlums, but we when we wanted to learn about something, we went and got books on the subject. I was a Lester Bangs fan but The Boy Looked At Johnny was a useful primer on one aspect of how to be a punk. We were also all of us commies of one stripe or another and Tom Robinson, along with The Clash were talking about shit that we knew about. Back then I was one of about 13 Americans who actually knew something about the Situationists. (Not much by the way). I should also say that I was living in Cedar Fucking Lake, Indiana and working the swing shift in a locomotive factory. All of this stuff was a fucking marvel to me. I was thrilled. No old hippies. No boring Marxist theory. I was looking for ways to rebel and for several years, that was all I could find. Punk finally meant that I had found a way to piss on the man and enjoy being young and have a good time and even get laid occasionally. It was heaven.

ib said...

well yes. As a bookish kid myself, I can identify with that. It was the Bernie Rhodes vs. Malcolm McLaren year. And Jake Riviera vs. The Majors. One moment it was all Caroline Coon and The Clash, the next Julie & Tony and their own romance.

Zig-Zag was still preferable to the NME in a way, and the fanzines were even better. I bought all the weeklies religiously, Sounds included. Zig-Zag - a monthly - was like a British counterpart to Creem.

ib said...

Incidentally, I opt most of the time these days to buy "The Times" which is a good deal to the right of "The Guardian", say, but has good journalistic content if you ignore the editorial. Also, The Saturday edition of "The Times" is cheaper - but used to be fantastic value - and, given that the journalists who write for it are all competing to hit the Sunday jackpot promotion, the standard of writing often trounces the more expensive Sundays. You learn to apply your own filter to the publication's political stance.

A lot of intelligent people I have known in lower income brackets have all opted to purchase this newspaper rather than go with similarly priced tabloids.

marmiteboy said...

TRB were the first 'proper' band I ever got into. I bought 'Power In The Darkness' when it came out and have never stopped plying it since. Danny Kustow is an extremely under-rated guitarist in my opinion. It's just a fantastic record.

I am happy to say my 8 year old daughter is now a devotee too. Her fav is 'Too Good To Be True'

ib said...

You're right about Danny Kustow; his playing is fundamental to TRB. I can't imagine how they might have sounded without him in those early days.

Your daughter has good taste too, MarmiteBoy. "Too Good To Be True" is great song. Initially, I just intended on posting "2-4-6-8...". I wound up listening again to the whole "PITD" album followed by their "Rising Free" EP - which I forgetfully referred to in an earlier comment as the "Martin" EP.

marmiteboy said...

My favourite track from "Rising Free" is "Right On Sister". Dolphin Taylor's drumming is amazing.

ib said...

Yes. Every song on that EP is blisteringly good. No overstatement.

Löst Jimmy said...

Now a Robinson track I did enjoy was 'DDR'

ib said...

'DDR' ?