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Tom Robinson Band

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Last Updated: 23 November 2020

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Tom Robinson Band

Background information
Also known asTRB
Associated actsSector 27
GenresPunk rock , new wave
LabelsEMI , Harvest
OriginLondon, England
Years active1976-1979, 1989, 2015
Facebooktomrobinsonmusic
General
Past membersMark Ambler Danny Kustow Tom Robinson Dolphin Taylor Preston Heyman Ian Parker Nick Plytas Charlie Morgan

This gig has now been rescheduled from Wed 27 May 2020 to Wed 5 May 2021. Tickets for the original date remain valid. If you ca make a new date, please remember live music venues are struggling to survive through this crisis, so please only request a refund if you really need it. After a stint in acoustic trio Cafe Society, culminating in a 1975 album produced by Ray Davies, Tom founded his own group TRB with the late Danny Kustow in 1976. The group were early supporters of Rock Against Racism and, the following year, their debut single 2-468 Motorway became one of the landmark singles of the UK punk era. Mild notoriety followed in 1978 when Radio 1 banned Toms ' follow-Up anthem Glad To Be Gay and subsequent hits include Up Against Wall and TRBs debut album Power in Darkness which went gold in the UK and Japan. His third Band Sector 27 was produced by Steve Lillywhite and went on to play Madison Square Garden in 1981, opening For Police. After the group management go bankrupt, Tom flees to Hamburg to avoid going the same way, and then becomes the first UK musician ever to tour East Germany, backed by local musicians. Tom Return To chart success as solo artist in 1983 with War Baby and Atmospherics: Listen To Radio; and co-write songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John and Dan Hartman. In the 1990s, following a one-Man Tour of Ireland, he signed To Cooking Vinyl records and released three critically acclaimed solo albums. As broadcaster, Tom won his first Sony Radio Award in 1997 for his BBC London documentary Youve get To Hide Your Love Away. Ever since helping launch BBC Radio 6 Music in 2002, he has worked fulltime at the station, where he won second Sony in 2011 and currently presents three shows a week.

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History

Tom Robinson Band were British Rock Band, established in 1976 by singer, songwriter and bassist Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson began gigging in London in 1976 with a constantly shuffling lineup of musician friends backing him and, by the end of the year, he had decided to put together a permanent band. Tom's old friend, guitarist Danny Kustow, was first in the permanent lineup. They run small ads in music newspapers looking for bass player and drummer. At one audition, hopeful prospect had a hitch ride with a friend of his who happened to be a drummer, and, as there was no one else to play drums, friend sat in for audition. At the end of the evening, band was still short of bass player, but Robinson had found his drummer in Brian Taylor. The search for a bass player continue, until Mark Ambler audition. As soon as he pluged in and started to play, band knew they had found their man. However, some days later, Mark mentioned he also play keyboards. After listening to Ambler playing his Hammond organ, Tom realise he would have to be a bass player himself. It wasn't how he saw himself, but he was definitely competent. The band hit the club scene right in the middle of London's punk explosion. Their live shows got favourable reviews, and soon & R men were attending many of their gigs. There was one small problem-song in the band's set called Glad To Be Gay. Even punk independents shy away from this one. Stiff Records president Jake Riviera went as far as to refer to their music as fucking queer Music. EMI decided to sign Up Band and TRB were off and running. Tom later described this period, saying within nine months we'd make transition from signing on At Medina Road dole office to Top Of Pops, Radio One, EMI Records and giddy heights Of front cover of New Musical Express. TRB hit a way to connect with people who would become firm followers. They make leaflets and flyers about their political views and send them to everyone who attends their gigs, they give away badges and make up T shirts emblazoned with the band's logo and they appear regularly at Rock Against Racism concerts. 2-468 Motorway was their first single, released in Autumn of 1977, It got into the Top five of UK singles charts, staying there for over a month. It was followed almost immediately by their next record, four song EP called Rising Free, which was recorded live at London's Lyceum Theatre in November of 1977. It contain songs Glad To Be Gay, Right on Sister, don't Take No For Answer and Martin. The EP reached 18 in the UK singles charts. Picture cover of TRB's May 1978 single: Up Against WallIn early 1978, TRB finally recorded their debut album, Power in Darkness.

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Change in lineup

1978 and background of economic and political turmoil, desperate time for teenagers looking for anything to express anger and frustration, punk had fuelled the youthful angst of generation. But although punk had started the movement with the exception perhaps of Clash, it lacked articulate and musical songs to catch imagination and political influence. Then along came the band and an album to change that. Power in Darkness Tom Robinson Band brings new intelligence and musicality blended with political comment and a vision of a desolate future. 40 years on and Tom Robinson Band appear at Globe performing Power in Darkness in its entirety to a vociferous crowd, not teenagers this time, but teenagers now in their 50s and just as passionate about this album and its message, as shown by the tremendous reception of Robinson and every song perform. From the first chords of Up Against Wall to the brilliant passion of Too Good To Be True and the title track, every word spat out with passion. It is not the same line Up but its same message and same anger 40 years on, Robinson amazingly still keeping venom in his vocals, still meaning every word, with guitarist Adam Phillipss fierce and melodic sounds on his Les Paul proving fire to Robinson's thunderous bass lines, and Andy Treacey playing drums like man possess, Jim Simmons complete driving and powerful sound on keyboards. In between the frenetic, hard pace set, Robinson explained how the album had two sides as do all albums before the introduction of CDs and only lasted just over 40 minutes, but the magic that was in those grooves still stands defiantly in tonight's performance as it do in its original time. Power in Darkness was simply a great album of great songs reflecting a period of change and political movement. Robinson continues after album performance with familiar favourites To fans Martin and Glad To Be gay and, of course, everybody knows his breakthrough hit 2-468 Motorway. Tom seals the mood of the night with Dont Take No For Answer To finish, Robinson standing with the band looking drained from full on performance, man in his sixties still giving every word and note true feeling. As he comments 40 years on, what has really change? Still, politically, the world is in turmoil and socially, people are struggling, but his answer to his own question is you still get to keep trying. He is and the crowd are, spirit of 78, that live on tonight. I suggest digging out Power in Darkness and giving it listen, it just might get those hairs on neck standing.

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Conclusion

37 this article has tried to look in some detail at one example of political rock in its rhetorical, social and market context. A single group with a relatively small number of songs was deliberately choose. Although more detailed textual and musical analysis of this work would be useful, my approach has underlined the particular importance of participatory roles of audiences, and reinforcement of subaltern and radical values in a contradictory world. 39 Appendix 2: songs recorded by Tom Robinson Band 40 John Mullen is a professor at the University of Rouen in France. He has published widely both on history of British Popular Music and the history of British trade unionism. His full-length study, Show Must Go On: Popular Song in Britain during First World War, was published in 2015 by Ashgate / Routledge. He is at present working on an edited volume about Popular Songs around the World in the Great War: Beyond Question of Morale: Popular Song in the First World War.

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The limits

Absolutely thumping third 7single from TRB both sides that could have been written for state of Society and labour goverment in 2008, let alone the state of Society and labour goverment in 1978, exactly thirty years ago. Tom Robinson jettisonned his band Cafe Society after he attended Sex Pistols gig and got to work on band that what would become overtly political TRB debut 7 single from Jam Today, hardcore lesbian-feminist band mentioned by Tom Robinson in the excellent NME article below, can be found on this site if you use search function. NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS-February 11 1978 by Phil McNeill long before Mary Whitehouse ever discovered the hideous charge if blasphemous libel on which she spike Gay News last year, vigilante forces of our nation had worked out another method of hurting Europes foremost homosexual newspaper. If anything, it was even more slimy than Whitehouses tactic. See, Gay News has always been most careful to stay within the highly flexible limits of laws governing obscenity. Like the song say, no nudes, no porn, no sensationalism. No way could GN be found to contravene Obscene Publications law. But-and this was BIG but that authorities latched onto sometime around 1974-just because paper isnt obscene doesnt mean you ca take it to court. It may come out of case innocent, but British courts have a clever way of fining innocent: LEGAL COSTS. Twice in 1974, GN fell victim to the British LEGAL system. Police swoop on newsagents in Bath and some other south coast town, take the paper to court-and judge, although deeming the magazine innocent, refuse to award LEGAL COSTS, thus depriving it of several thousand pounds required to mount its defence against police reject charges. It was at benefit to raise funds for one of these Gay News LEGAL battles that I first saw Tom Robinson. The venue was Royal Mail pub in Upper Street, Islington, dated late 1974. Typically jolly gay get-together it was. GN editor Denis Lemon-already hero and potential martyr to people there-blushingly handed out prizes in raffle, and then, to fill the gap before the headlining drug queen makes her entrance, pallid youth got up on stage and diffidently strum out totally unmemorable little ditty with just a pen. That young man, of course, was Tom Robinson. If you told me then that three years later he would be leading one of the fiercest rock n roll bands in the country, you would have been laugh out door. So how does he get from sentimental acoustic love songs to Whitehall-up-against-the-wall? Glib answer would be; money. It would be very easy to accuse Tom Robinson of jumping onto the political slogan bandwagon just as the whole movement gathered impetus in late 76-and people have already done so. One of those people, who has known Tom for five years now, is Ray Davies.

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Bibliography

Tom Robinson is a British songwriter and broadcaster born in 1950. His music career began in London with acoustic trio Cafe Society, whose eponymous 1975 album was produced by Ray Davies of Kinks and sold less than 500 copies. He then formed the Tom Robinson Band, who were early supporters of Rock Against Racism and Amnesty International. Unusually For time, Tom was also a prominent advocate of LGBT equality. TRB enjoyed chart success in the UK with 2-468 Motorway, Dont Take No For Answer and Up Against Wall and BBC ban for their song Glad To Be Gay. The Bands ' debut album Power in Darkness-produce by Chris Thomas-go gold in the UK and Japan but the follow-Up, TRB TWO, was less successful and the band broke up in 1979. Tom subsequently wrote co-songs with Elton John for his albums 21 At 33 and Fox while forming his third band, Sector 27, whose eponymous debut album was produced by Steve Lillywhite in 1980. While enjoying only modest success in the UK, Band achieved cult status in New York. In 1981, they played Madison Square Garden with Police and toured the US extensively before splitting later that year. As a solo artist, Robinson had further UK Top 40 hits in 1983 with the singles War Baby and Atmospherics: Listen To Radio. In 1987, his album Still Loving You was a hit in Italy, resulting in an appearance at San Remo Festival and same year he also made his debut as a Music Radio DJ on BBC World Service. During this period, Tom co-write several songs with Dan Hartman and also with Manu Katche for his album It's About Time. Between 1992-1996 Robinson released a trilogy of albums on acclaimed UK folk / roots label Cooking Vinyl. The last of these, Having It Both Ways, reflects the fact that he had married his female partner in 1990 and is now identified as bisexual. Around the same time, his career as a radio broadcaster began to take off: Robinson went on to host programmes on all eight of BBC national Radio stations and won TWO gold Sony Academy Radio Awards. He was on the founding team for alternative music station BBC Radio 6 Music when it launched in 2002 and figured prominently in the campaign to save the station when it was threatened with closure in 2010. Tom currently hosts three shows a week on BBC Radio 6 Music where he has become known as a champion of new emerging artists via BBC Introducing. He also hosts his own Music blog for independent artists At Fresh on Net. In 2015, Robinson released Only Now-his first new studio album in almost 20 years-record with violinist and award-winning record producer Gerry Diver. The Album includes guest appearances by Nitin Sawhney, John Grant, Lisa Knapp, Swami Baracus, Colin Firth, Martin Carthy, Nadine Shah, Billy Bragg, TV Smith and Sir Ian McKellen.

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Notes

1 I using Rock here in its wider sense of work of thousands of guitar-bass-drums-vocals bands of the last sixty years. 2 All songs mentioned in this article were easily available on YouTube at the time of writing. 3 Such as Ian Curtis, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton or Geri Halliwell of Spice Girl fame; 4 Claude Chastagner, De la Culture Rock Le fondement subversif et transgressif du Rock est au cur De la seduction quil exerce. All translations are mine. 5 Le Rock est subversif par la place quil octroie linarticule, linformule, au son brut et au corps indocile, tout ce que les formes culturelles dominantes rejettent au nom De la Culture. 6 Le Rock est avant tout un art du slogan 7 Rever des vies plus intenses, plus dangereuses, plus excitantes que les notres. 8 Introduction to Karl Marxs work Contribution to Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right 11 I am developing this idea to speak of the role of listener in popular Music, more active than has often been consider. 12 in psychology, much work has been done on how and why certain activities are more absorbing than others. See for example, Ruth Herbert's Musical and non-Musical involvement in everyday life: case of absorption, Musicae Scientiae I 26,. 13 Michael Brocken, British Folk Revival 1944-2002 14 1985 album by Artists Against Apartheid featuring dozens of well-know artistes. This was not focus on fund raising alone, but on raising awareness of the complicity of Western powers in the maintenance of South African Apartheid. 15 1984 single by Band Aid involve 41 well-know singers or musicians. 16 For fuller analysis, see Yasmine Carlet and Jean-Marie Seca, Vingt ans De Live Aid: comment Le charity Rock-til transforme lengagement politique en musique populaire?, Les cahiers De psychologie politique, n 7. 17 Ashley Dawson, Love Music, Hate Racism: Cultural Politics of Rock Against Racism Campaigns 1976-81 Postmodern Culture 16: 1. 18 Red Wedge, subject of another article in this volume, may be considered as inspired by a similar conception of political use of popular music. 20 in the appendix. You will find information about 26 record songs which make up almost their entire output in three years group exist. 21 Ten years later, Billy Bragg will follow this option to some extent. 22 R Serge Denisoff and Richard Peterson eds Sounds of Social Change, p. 17-18. 23 Antoine Hennion and J. P. Vignolle, Artisans et industriels du disque-essai sur Le mode De production De la musique p 198. 26 I have highlighted what I believe to be the main dynamic. There are other things going on: For example, there is a humorous side to the song Winter of 79, since it was released in 1978, and could be characterized as wryly hyperbolic.

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Sources

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