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4.5 out of 5 stars19
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 16 January 2006
WARNING: This disc contains Copy Control technology. As long as your CD player can cope with deliberately damaged discs you should be OK. Some car CD players cannot. Windows PCs will need to use the included player application, not your favourite player.
That's the bad news and the reason why it only gets 3 stars.
The first 10 tracks on this version are those that were on the original recording; if you're not familiar with it, TRB were a 4-piece with a social agenda. If you need a taster of the music, Real Audio clips are available on the tomrobinson.com website.
This was a time of social unrest and much of this album reflects those feelings. TRB had as much energy as punk bands but were more concerned with challenging the status quo than simply spitting on it. "Up against the wall" and "Ain't gonna take it" are optimistic and driven, "Grey Cortina" lightens the mood; "Too good to be true" dampens it again ("Life in a bedsitter bedlam, afraid to go home in the dark").
"Long hot summer" forecasts trouble; "The winter of '79" looks back at a winter of discontent, yet to come. "The man you never saw" may seem like an energetic slice of paranoia (".. your place is being watched, don't go in to work tomorrow, try and make it down the docks"), but at the time activists and demonstrators certainly were being arrested. "Better decide which side you're on" is a now-dated call to action ("Joseph, Reed and Whitehouse are out to get your guts, better decide which side you're on"). "You gotta survive" is a rocking post-apocalyptic vision and one of my favourite tracks, with some great guitar from Danny Kustow.
The original album ends with the anthem "Power in the Darness" ("...stand up and fight for your rights!").
Added to this are 4 tracks recorded live in 1978 and previously released on EP; the hit single "2-4-6-8 Motorway"; a Bob Dylan cover "I shall be released"; a Tom Robinson song "I'm alright Jack" which looks as though it didn't quite make it onto the original album; a live cover of Lou Reed's "Waiting for my man" changed for London and the 2004 remix of "Power in the Darkness" with Tom's spoken bit updated to reflect the involvement in Iraq. A good booklet comes with it but be warned; part 2 of the history of the band appears on "TRB Two".
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on 25 January 2005
Twenty-seven years on and TRB's POWER IN THE DARKNESS remains an album of astonishing power and impact. Hearing it in 1977 was a joy - assured, stirring, grown-up rock that helped to politicise an entire generation of teenagers. Hearing it again, expanded to include the first two single releases, plus live tracks and the haunting remix of the title track, is possibly a more stirring experience than ever - not because of any sense of nostalgia for the punk barricades, but because it is a startling reminder of the timidity of so much of today's mainstream pop and rock. Remember, TRB had HITS, and managed to sing about politics, personal issues and revolution at the same time. The music: blistering guitars and a rhythm section at full tilt; the voice: angry, passionate, utterly committed; the lyrics: courageous, incisive, provocative, witty. A masterpiece.
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on 29 June 2008
This is a fantastic rock album for so many reasons.It was released at a time when punk rock was the "in thing".Its based on that old pub rock that was around at that time mixed with The Clash and TRB was in the vanguard of Rock against Racism.But the best thing about this album is the pure passion that each musician put into it.Danny Kustow is still a fantastic guitarist.Ive been playing guitar for 25 years myself and i still hark back to TRB.Fantastic album for so many reasons.Songwriting,passion,punk rock and belief in a cause.
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on 20 November 2006
This is a great album. On a superficial level it has three minute guitar driven power anthems to rival those of The Clash, The Jam and such like. Up Against The Wall kicks the album off with a high octane shock to the unwary listener and the pace never really lets up. Even the slower Too Good To Be True provides a temporary hiatus from the high voltage sound. However, it is upon deeper listening and contemplatiuon of the courageous lyrics that one realises what a classic this album is. The post apocalyptic depression of You Gotta Survive and the fantastic Winter of 79 in which bleak, urban and gritty lyrics are juxtaposed with an upbeat "jolly" tune are two highlights for me. This album stands the test of time extremly well and represents a valid contribution to the post-punk/new wave catalogue made by five supremely talented musicians (just check out the guitar solos!!!)
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on 28 October 2013
I bought this in '78 on vinyl (still in the attic), used the stencil that came with it to spray up a t-shirt (and a few walls) and played it loud and constantly.

Younger listeners should note that the spoken vocals in the middle of the title track are a parody and not meant to be taken as TR's actual sentiments. Some of the words may seem offensive to modern ears but it is important to realise that these words were routinely used by many people in those days, particularly the 'rightwing establishment'.

An album full of stomping-good protest songs that are still pungently relevant today, perhaps more so as the the economy fails under another cyclic emergence of the Sociopathic Elite, spiralling poverty and relentless attacks on our freedom and privacy...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 February 2011
For way too long it's been fashionable to derride this album. In 'England's Dreaming', Jon Savage, while lauding the records' left-wing sentiments, slags off its safe non-revolutionary music.

Well, let's look at the context. It's OK to like the first Clash album, because the music is rough...but remember that Strummer's dad was a diplomat. Robinson may have been middle class too, but the point is that he wanted to speak up for minorities and warn us of the Tory apocalypse awaiting us. Yes, this was the album that mainstream rock fans bought to show that they too believed in equality for all irregardless of sexual preference, gender or race, but TRB is not just a tokenistic album - it's a great one. It stands alongside works from the same era by The Stranglers, The Jam, whomever you wish to name - it's heart is on its sleeve, but it's superbly crafted, banging with energy, loud and super-dynamic. After all, it's produced by Chris Thomas (Floyd, Pistols, Roxy, John Cale) and he immacculately captures the fury of Danny Kustow's guitar and Marc Ambler's far better than average keyboards.

But the real proof of the pudding is in the songwriting. Robinson has a narrative gift that makes him a natural writer. He employs a wide vocabulary, multiple character points of view, colloquialisms and deft turns of phrase. The man really should turn his hand to prose fiction.

In particular, he is simply brilliant at using the iconography of politics and meshing it with the cliches and symbols of Britishness. Add to this a streak of genius for writing near-future science fiction dystopian scenarios ('You Gotta Survive' reminds this listener of Christopher Priests' novel 'Fugue for a Darkening Island' and a host of other Wyndhamesque British disaster novels, while 'Better Decide Which Side You're On' puts me in a mind to re-read Derek Raymond's 'A State of Denmark', with 'Winter of 79' - recorded in 78 of course - was a prediction of the Thatcherite nonsense to come).

The whole album is redolent with images of Britain in revolt, stirring and positive in a way that most political punk (the stuff that came after Punk Rock) could never be. But did we listen? Some of us did, but many voted for the conservatives. Oh well!

The new remastered version comes with loads of bonus tracks, from the excellent 'Rising Free' EP with its songs of feminism and gay rights plus the amazing b-side 'I'm All Right Jack' , another slice of narrative genius from Robinson, depicting the aristocracy's country-house as castle if the balloon goes up in lyrics of world class quality. Great version of 'Waiting for the Man' as well.

Overall, I can't recommend this album enough. It still sounds fresh and vital. Up there with 'Rattus Norvegicus', 'Another Music in A Different Kitchen' and 'In The City', it may be a blueprint for political correctness, but it's sincere and - believe me - Robinson's lyrics are second to none (at the time, only Robert Calvert and Hugh Cornwell could surpass him). Seminal and brilliant.
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on 11 September 2008
Glad to be Gay has to be the best and most accurate protest song ever written. Closely followed by Power in the darkness, Long hot summer and all the songs from the Rising Free EP that have been included on this CD.

Rather than having some upper middle-class university student singing about the hardships of the less fortunate - we had a lot of those in Sweden in the 70s - here is someone who actually lives right in the middle of it, and manages to express what it feels like, in a way that hits you right in the guts, still after 30 years (and I'm not even gay...)
The bitter sarcasms of the final verse ("make sure your boyfriend's at least 21 / so only your friends and your brothers get done"), sung (or rather spitted out) so sincere, beats everything the Sex Pistols or the Clash ever managed to produce.

Unfortunately, after making two really great albums, TR didn't, in my own opinion, managed to withhold the passion. And, sad to say, I find much of his later work rather boring. With a few exceptions of course.

But this (and the sadly underrated follow-up "TRB2") is a must have.
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on 2 August 2013
Written with honesty and played with conviction, this album remains Tom's finest hour. Recorded in the late seventies when times were less liberal and tolerant. This record is extremely brave and a cultural/political testament to the times
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on 21 October 2015
Brought back memories. Had it on vinyl originally but lost it decades ago. We knew how to fight for our rights in the 70s and 80s. Excellent album.
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on 2 May 2011
I saw T.R.B in the genteel and classical environment of Cheltenham Town Hall in 1990 where, uniquely, I sat at a table with x lagers and saw him play all his hits (the audience must have been < 300). A surreal and still vivid experience which makes life sweet and precious.

A very under-rated 'new wave' talent.
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