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Tom Robinson

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  • Born: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Englan
  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s

Albums

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Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Although his career had pretty much flamed out by the start of the '80s, there were few punk-era major-label performers as intensely controversial as Tom Robinson. Cutting his teeth with folk-rockers Café Society (who released a Ray Davies-produced record on the head Kinks' Konk label in 1975), Robinson roared into the spotlight in 1978 with a great single ("2-4-6-8 Motorway") and a much-ballyhooed contract with EMI. What was remarkable about this was that Robinson was the kind of politically conscious, confrontational performer that major labels generally ignored: he was openly gay and sang about it ("Glad to Be Gay"), vociferous in his hatred for then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, helped form Rock Against Racism, and generally spoke in favor of any leftist political tract that would embarrass the ruling ultraconservative Tory government. His debut album, 1978's Power in the Darkness, was an occasionally stunning piece of punk/hard rock agitprop that, along with being ferociously direct, was politicized rock that focused more on songs than slogans.

However, by the release of the second album, the Todd Rundgren-produced TRB Two, the songs were getting weaker and Robinson began sounding like a boring ideologue. Similarly, the band, even terrific guitarist Danny Kustow, sounds as if on automatic pilot. By the end of the '70s, Robinson had been dropped by EMI and signed to maverick major IRS as a solo act. In a wise move, he ditched the hard rock polemics of TRB for a more sophisticated pop/rock sound, but found his audience dwindling. A brief period of silence ended with him, somewhat surprisingly, signing with Geffen and releasing Hope and Glory. It was a politically tinged but mostly mainstream rock record that featured a cover of that decidedly non-punk song, Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number," with Robinson deftly exploring the song's homoerotic subtext. Still, it wasn't enough to resuscitate his career and for the remainder of the decade Robinson released England-only albums that tried the patience of even longtime fans.

As to his current whereabouts, Robinson is (amazingly) rumored to be married to a woman and raising a family in England. He's still writing songs and occasionally performing, also working as a DJ for BBC6.

Tour Dates All Dates Dates In My Area

Date Venue Location Tickets
09.17.15 The Brook Southampton, Sth UK
09.18.15 Queen Elizabeth Hall London, Lnd UK
10.25.15 Hailsham Pavilion Hailsham, UK
10.28.15 Arlington Arts Centre Newbury, Berks UK
10.30.15 Harpenden Public Halls Harpenden, Hrt UK
10.31.15 The Assembly Leamington Spa, War UK
11.01.15 The Picturedrome Holmfirth, Wyk UK
11.02.15 Cambridge Junction Cambridge, Cam UK
11.04.15 Royal Northern College of Music Manchester, Lancashire UK
11.06.15 Queens Hall Edinburgh Edinburgh, Edinburgh UK

eMusic Features

1

Six Degrees of Gang of Four’s Entertainment!

By Ira Robbins, Contributor

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »

1

Six Degrees of Gang of Four’s Entertainment!

By Ira Robbins, Contributor

It used to be easier to pretend that an album was its own perfectly self-contained artifact. The great records certainly feel that way. But albums are more permeable than solid, their motivations, executions and inspirations informed by, and often stolen from, their peers and forbearers. It all sounds awfully formal, but it's not. It's the very nature of music — of art, even. The Six Degrees features examine the relationships between classic records and five… more »