The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Mahir Ali

Only the Now Tom Robin­son Cast­away North­west

There is a pang of recog­ni­tion in store for those fa­mil­iar with the Tom Robin­son Band’s oeu­vre from the late 1970s on Home in the Morn­ing, the open­ing track on the singer-song­writer’s first solo al­bum in two decades or so. Back in the day, what­ever Robin­son lacked in the vo­cal depart­ment he made up for with at­ti­tude, chutz­pah and his sharp sen­sors for top­i­cal con­cerns. Glad to be Gay was a hit, with­out any ra­dio play, back when it was still largely con­sid­ered im­politic openly to dis­cuss ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, and TRB’s ex­cel­lent al­bum Power in the Dark­ness en­abled the band to head­line gigs with the Clash in a sup­port­ing role. Robin­son sub­se­quently pur­sued a solo ca­reer that some­times veered to­wards folk­ish­ness, with oc­ca­sional suc­cesses, but in re­cent decades has been bet­ter known as a BBC ra­dio DJ. He still has a way with words, though, and his only marginally more ragged vo­cals stand up well in this long over­due out­ing, as do his still rad­i­cal opin­ions on mat­ters rang­ing from the in­equities of the Bri­tish ju­di­cial sys­tem ( The Mighty Sword of Jus­tice) and youth sui­cide ( Don’t Jump Don’t Fall) to or­gan­ised re­li­gion ( Mer­ci­ful God, as well as the hi­lar­i­ous Holy Smoke). The wealth of col­lab­o­ra­tors tes­ti­fies to Robin­son’s cross­gen­er­a­tional pop­u­lar­ity: thes­pi­ans Ian McKellen and Colin Firth to Martin Carthy (who lends folk cred to a cover of In My Life), Billy Bragg, Lisa Knapp, Nitin Sawh­ney and Swami Bara­cus. He signs off with the won­der­fully wist­ful ti­tle track, and hope­fully will be back with more well be­fore an­other 20 years go by.

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