Dienstag, 21. Juni 2022

Tom Robinson - Sector 27 - Complete

There were few punk-era, major-label performers as intensely creative and controversial as Tom Robinson. Cutting his teeth with folk-rockers "Café Society" (who released a Ray Davies-produced record on the head Kink's 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"); he was vociferous in his hatred for then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; he helped form Rock Against Racism; and he generally spoke in favor of any leftist political tract that would embarrass the ruling ultraconservative Tory government.

Having rode the conveyor belt from spokesman to also-ran with the Tom Robinson Band (TRB), Robinson did the logical thing. He sidestepped the fray for nearly a year, ditching the old fist-in-the-air righteousness for a series of reflective songs propelled by new collaborator Jo Burt's trebly, overdriven bass. Not surprisingly, Robinson's music-business experiences provided a tempting, if obvious target. "Looking at You" twits impersonal rock stars, while "Take It or Leave It" wryly finds no difference between major and indie labels' business ethics ("Do as we say the alternative way, remember who's running the show"). However, Robinson's lyrical view had grown past his profession to jab faceless welfare bureaucracies ("Total Recall") and closeted gays ("Not Ready"). "Where Can We Go Tonight" examines life from a bored teen couple's viewpoint, and "Bitterly Disappointed" is a caustic father-to-son address. The album's production inevitably sounds dated, especially for the harsh, metallic chicken-scratch guitar sound that was so in vogue at the time, but the material is solid and did much to reassure TRB fans of their man's commitment to gut-punching, yet thoughtful rock & roll. However, "Sector 27" couldn't shake off TRB's legacy and split after a year of marginal gigging, while Robinson resumed his solo career, which gradually assumed a more middle-of-the-road flavor than his previous work. This album is the last stand of a man deciding where he fits among his peers and acquitting himself well in the process.          


The album was reissued in 1996 as "Complete" with some bonus tracks.

  1. Can’t Keep Away
  2. Invitation: What Have We Got to Lose?
  3. Not Ready
  4. Mary Lynne
  5. Looking At You
  6. Five 2 Five
  7. Totall Recall
  8. Where Can We Go Tonight?
  9. Take It Or Leave It
  10. Bitterly Disappointed
  11. One Fine Day
  12. Stornoway
  13. Dungannon
  14. Day After Day
  15. Won’t You Tell Me How I Feel
  16. Martin’s Gone
  17. Christopher Calling 
  18. Shutdown

Tom Robinson - Sector 27 - Complete
(320 kbps, cover art included)

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