Album review: Tom Robinson Band, The Anthology 1977-1979 (EMI)


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The Independent Culture

Ah, the magic of the marginalia. Because regardless of what the history books tell us about The Clash and the Sex Pistols, for anyone growing up in the suburbs towards the end of the 1970s, the group most responsible for politically awakening the nation’s sixth-formers, one skinny tie at a time, was the Tom Robinson Band.

And gathered together for the first time in this three-CD and DVD set is everything you need to know about that short burst of rocking righteousness.

Robinson stood out like a sore thumb against the background of punk rock. Passionate, eloquent and articulate, his clenched-fist agit-prop pop has, inevitably, dated slightly but even now has the power to give you the shivers. It’s the early songs that still sound best: “Martin”, “Up Against The Wall”, “Too Good To Be True”, “Long Hot Summer” and the hits “Glad To Be Gay” and “2-4-6-8 Motorway”.

Next thing we knew, Thatcher was in and TRB were gone. But 35 years on seems as good a time as any to reappraise the band’s work. Start with the title track to their first album, Power In The Darkness. I’ll leave it to you to decide if the world is a better place now than it was back then.