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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TRB - More Power in the Darkness., 1 July 2013
By 
Paul M "ROYALSFAN" (Reading ,England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
To my mind Tom Robinson was one of punks more intriguing personalities. Never afraid to take brave political stands or even hide his middle class upbringing, his well drilled [ but definately not punk] band,TRB were the perfect vehicle to briefly expand his vision in the immediate aftermath of punk. This four disc set captures the bands output on EMI, as well as some cracking live performances,on both audio and video.

Perhaps the most notable thing about TRB is that they were not a punk band in the accepted sense,and like the Attractions and Blockheads they were far too polished musicians to go for the three chord trick others lapsed into, but their fire, aggression, and sheer urgency on the early recordings in particular showed that TRB easily held their own as punk morphed into new wave [ with at least one genuine, classic hit single also in their cannon ].

It perhaps says a great deal that the bands truly great recordings are featured on disc one, with the classic singles 2.4.6.8. Motorway, Glad to be Gay, and essential debut album Power in the Darkness. Combine that with assorted b'sides and Peel sessions, and you pretty much have TRB's real legacy on a single silver disc.

By disc two, TRB's star is waning as the bands troubled, over produced and moderate second album shows how stretched and directionless the band had become. Having said that, Bully for You [ a co - write with Peter Gabriel no less] and Sorry Mr.Harris, still pack the appropriate new wave punch [ a few more of these, and the TRB story may have been very different indeed]. The disc adds another Peel session and odd b'sides.

Disc three has two fantastic live shows. Recorded just over a year apart, both shows [ from Golders Green Hippodrome and High Wycombe [!] town hall. Both concerts showcase TRB at their live peak and are fine documents of the bands contribution to the New Wave.

Disc four is a nice dvd collection of live stuff, promo clips, and a genuine period piece and very interesting documentary. Although of its time the live footage conveys the excitement and danger of British music at the tail end of the Seventies whilst clearly showing where Tom Robinson stood on sensitive [for the time] issues like gay rights and left wing politics. The documentary alone [ amazingly made by ITV] makes the DVD a must watch collection for anyone who was there or is simply curious about musical life in the punk era.

This anthology puts TRB's short career into perspective, and reminds the listener that they had an impact way above their chart positions and brief time in the spotlight. That Tom Robinson is still a respected musical commentator and supporter of young musicians goes some way to understanding how brightly his bands light shone through 1977, 1978 and the Winter of 79.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent if not quite complete anthology, 18 July 2013
This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
TRB at its best was one of the finest bands of its era, and this excellent compilation serves as a fitting tribute. Of particularly interest is the fantastic third live disc featuring two live shows recorded by the BBC - stellar stuff!

If I have one complaint - and it's the reason I've docked one star from my rating - it's that not everything is here. By way of example, a TRB compilation called 'Rest of the Best' (released shortly after the band split) rounded up several interesting oddities from the vaults, and a number of these tracks have missed the cut on this anthology. Similarly, TRB's live version of 'Waiting for My Man' (released on a PITD remaster from a few years ago) is similarly missing in action.

But it's difficult to gripe too much when what *is* here is so good :)

BUY IT!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just brilliant., 15 July 2013
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This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
Can there be a more underrated musician than Tom Robinson and TRB? And has any band been more erroneously forgotten? This 3CD and 1DVD set is all you need to recapture the spirit of late seventies grass-roots rock that not only delivered brilliant music but also head-on addressed the political and social problems the UK faced at the time... wait, listening to it in 2013 there's not much updating needed for many of these tracks to sound relevant right now. Never really understood why TRB were aligned with punk... all they shared was 1977. This set has a great booklet that charts the rise and fall from today's perspective.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A Band That Burned Brightly But Briefly Gets The Deluxe Treatment.....", 9 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
The TOM ROBINSON BAND, one of many UK groups formed after seeing the early SEX PISTOLS perform, could be sited as THE example of a group who had a DYNAMITE first album but crashed and burned after suffering the dreaded "second album curse." The original group, featuring Tom Robinson (lead vocals, bass), Danny Kustow (guitar, vocals), Mark Ambler (keyboards) and Brian "Dolphin" Taylor (drums) formed during 1976's heady "anyone can do it" UK punk revolution and burst onto scene in 1977 as punk began to be swallowed by the major record companies, eventually spitting out the "new wave." 'THE ANTHOLOGY 1977-1979 is another great release in the spate of 3-6 disc sets that EMI Records have been releasing over the past few years, it contains all of their studio work, live concert material and a DVD featuring a BBC documentary on the band, a few live TV performances and music videos, and a thicker more detailed booklet than found in most of the EMI "complete output" releases.

Robinson first realized he was gay as a young teenager but was racked by guilt due to the mores of the day, homosexuality was considered a criminal offense in England until 1999. Suffering a nervous breakdown after attempting suicide at 16 he was sent to Finchden Manor a therapeutic community for disturbed teenagers where he first met Kustow. A avid listener of influential disc-jockey John Peel's seminal pirate radio program "The Perfumed Garden," Robinson later witnessed an inspiring school performance by Alexis Korner a founding father of the British blues scene cementing his desire inspiring to pursue a musical career. In 1973 he became a member of Café Society, a London acoustic trio eventually signed to the short-lived Konk label, THE KINKS' boutique imprint. Their one album, produced by head KINK Ray Davies, went nowhere, and to add insult to injury Robinson infuriated Davies when the habitually late producer came to another session tardy, prompting Robinson to serenade Davies with his own "Tired Of Waiting For You!" Davies retaliated by refusing to free him from his contract, and later released the scathing put-down "Prince Of The Punks," which only succeed in giving the public a troubling glimpse of Davies' dark psyche. During the long legal and personal battle with Davies Robinson became more involved in the emerging gay scene and embraced the politics of gay liberation, which linked gay rights to the wider issues of social justices, such as feminine inequality and racism. In 1976 Robinson attended an early SEX PISTOLS gig and found the inspiration for his next musical foray. He reconnected with Kustow, and the TOM ROBINSON BAND were off and running.....

Disc One chronologically documents their most fertile period beginning with the debut single "2-4-6-8 Motorway/I Shall Be Released" which primed the pump by rocketing into the Top Five. A tale about a lorry driver's life cruising the UK's roadways, Robinson, who became an outspoken proponent of gay and individual rights, later stated that it covertly meant the he was cruising for sex. The B-side is an impressive heartfelt take of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." Robinson got to meet a hero when the band did a "Peel Session" in Nov. 1977. The band performs three songs from their upcoming album; "Up Against The Wall," "Long Hot Summer" and "Ain't Gonna Take It." The fourth, "Don't Take No For An Answer" is the lead track on their next release, the four track EP 'RISING FREE.' Another strong release, the EP reached #18 in the charts, and included one of the bands most memorable tunes "Sing If You're Glad To Be Gay." A serious plea for gay tolerance ironically couched in a catchy sing-along. The popular release also featured the humorous music hall tale of "Martin," and "Right On Sister" a nod to the feminist cause. A few months later they released their debut album, 'POWER IN THE DARKNESS.' The UK album contained studio versions of the three BBC recordings and seven new tunes, in the US the 10 track UK album was joined by another 12" platter containing both sides of the debut single and all four of the EP tracks, all for a single disc price. Both were released on EMI's Harvest imprint. Continuing the high bar set by the previous releases, 'POWER IN THE DARKNESS' was one of the most impressive album debuts from the new wave, and it's power and heart hold up today. Robinson's sincere working-class vocals and rudimentary but steady bass were surrounded by Kurstow's surprisingly accomplished tasty guitar, Ambler's soul and jazz informed keyboards and Taylor's driving funky beat. While many of the songs lyrics chronicle the ills of 1978 Britain; "Ain't Gonna Take It," surviving during the "Long Hot Summer" while "Up Against The Wall," fighting against facism and intolerance in "The Winter Of '79" because "You've Got To Survive," Robinson pulled no punches. He called out the fence-sitters in "Better Decide What Side You're On," admitted his own doubts in "Too Good To Be True" and warns everyone to watch their backs in "Man You Never Saw." The fact that Robinson pulls off all these heavy topics without being pedantic can be attributed to music so great you never notice the medicine going down. All is not heavy though, "Grey Cortina" celebrates the simple pleasures of the working man, and band's confidence peaks by ending with the anthemic tile track, one of their strongest......

'POWER IN THE DARKNESS' went Gold in the UK and top off at #4 in the charts. The also won two Capital Radio listener awards for "Best New Band" and "Best London Band." Unfortunately, as the saying goes, it was downhill from there. Disc Two begins with a demo and live track, the last two to feature original keyboardist with Mark Ambler until the next disc. Ambler left mysteriously after 'POWER,' and to quote Robinson "You could date the band's decline from exactly that point. Bowing to pressure for Mark to leave was definitely my first fatal mistake." Temporarily replaced by ex-ROOGALATOR Nick Plytas they performed at a major Anti Nazi League rally in early 1979. Bringing keyboardist Ian Parker permanently on board they began sessions for what would be 'TRB2' with Producer Chris Thomas manning the boards once again. Thomas, whose early experience included subbing for a vacationing George Martin in the midst of the sessions for THE BEATLES 'White Album,' built quite a resume over the years working with PINK FLOYD, PROCOL HARUM, ROXY MUSIC, SEX PISTOLS, INXS, THE PRETENDERS and Elton John. Although prepared with a stack of new material, the overwhelming pressures of their new found fame caused friction within the band and between Thomas, causing the frustrated producer to quit the project. Dolphin Taylor suggested Todd Rundgren as a replacement, but afterwards became disenchanted with the tracks Runtgren wanted to included on the album, Taylor was the next to leave. He later offered to return, but Robinson refused and drummer Preston Heyman finished the sessions. Although pictured on the finished product, Charlie Morgan later became the permanent replacement.

'TRB TWO' reached #18 in the charts, but the damage was irreversible. The British music press, notorious for savaging bands they once championed when the chips were down, smelled blood. Having two years to hone their initial effort, they now had four months. They hype had died down and the group now had to deal simultaneously with managers, EMI, publicists, and publishers, and now with a crew depending on them for their next paycheck. In the lyrics to the first single from the new album, "Bully For You," a co-write with Peter Gabriel, you get the feeling that he knew what was coming. Only placing at #68, the next two singles, the album's lead track "All Night, All Right" and "Never Gonna Fall In Love (Again)," a co-write with Elton John, didn't even make a dent. The latter is NOT included on this set, but is available on Elton John's 21 at 33. In hindsight 'TRB TWO' contains some decent tunes, but is let down by Runtgren's overly slick production, losing the ragged edges of the debut. Parker and Morgan are talented musicians but lack the raw energy of their predecessors and even Kustow's dependable guitar seems flattened in the mix. The album's highlights are two funk-rockers; "Black Angel" a soulful burner replete with female backing and "Crossing Over The Road" a melodic body mover that has hit written all over it. Another Peel Session was laid done around the time of the record's release, with the band taking it on the road soon after. A eleven track sample awaits on Disc Three. When guitarist Kustow decided to quit afterward, Robinson decided to hang up the band for good......

Disc Three documents both line-ups in concert recorded by the BBC. The original band is heard performing material from their singles and album on March 4, 1978 at the Golders Green Hippodrome for the BBC's Sight & Sound program. The second line-up perform an eleven track mixture from both albums for BBC's In Concert on January 1, 1979 at Wycombe Town Hall. The 1978 concert benefits from the bands hunger, sometimes teetering on the edge, which makes the excitement even more palpable. The second line-up prove they're no slouches either, and their concert material is a revelation. Compared to the somewhat sedate performances on 'TRB TWO' you'd swear it was different musicians. The songs from 'TRB TWO' benefit from the live setting, from the first bars of opener "All Right, All Night" the band revs like a finely tuned racer with a rollicking guitar and synth duel. They really hit their stride on Track 3, the funky rockin' "Black Angel." Ian Parker's electric piano solo is brilliant and drives the song to even funkier heights. Parker and drummer Morgan's strong backing vocals rival the original's session singers' and make a strong contribution on other cuts. When Robinson mentions that the concert is being recorded the already energetic audience takes it up a few notches, and becomes a defacto choir on "Blue Murder." Parker gives another strong performance piano and swirling Hammond organ, along with a great Gilmour-ish solo from Danny Kustow. The guitarist is on fire throughout the show, on the next track, an unreleased burner titled "Getting Together" his dynamic solo is reminiscent of STEELY DAN's Jeff "Skunk" Baxter. The excitement doesn't let up until an intense "Right On Sister" ends the night. Right on indeed!

The DVD is a nice addition, with video that evidences what a dynamic live act they could be. It begins with the Granada TV documentary "Too Good To Be True?" a mixture of interviews, live performances and vignettes of the band in different settings, including a meeting of their fan club and Robinson's volunteer gig on a gay info hotline. Wisely, the six live performances of material from the debut album and singles are uninterrupted. Robinson and Kustow have any easy camaraderie and the whole group seem like guys you'd meet in the pub that just happen to be dynamite musicians. From their first TV appearances we get versions of "2-4-6-8 Motorway" and "Glad To Be Gay" on The London Weekend Show. A live EMI demo film of "Winter Of '79" and three music videos, the last two featuring the final line-up round out the program......

Co-produced and remastered by Robinson the set sounds great and the full-color booklet contains a forward by him as well. There are many photos of the group, various releases and promotional items. If your a fan of the album you really get value for your money, and video footage of any great group live in action is a definite plus. The only problem with the set is the sadness you feel knowing they had so much potential, but burned out so quickly......
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't find the floor of the wardrobe..., 11 Oct 2013
By 
M. A. Tovey "Astronomicon" (Trumpton) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
Like others buying this set I was a teenage fan of TRB. Little did I know as a pimply 13 year old watching the band's 1977 Top of The Pops appearance that I would soon gain an education on political and social issues of the time. Even my Dad, who could exhibit various isms thought Tom was a top chap when he personally replied to my fan letter, enclosing a signed Café Society single and other paraphernalia. Although numerous bands of the time paid lip service to being on the same level as the fans, folk like Tom and Paul Weller made efforts to practice what they preached. This set includes practically everything TRB released and more besides, all compiled with care and attention. The booklet contains plenty of pictures and memorabilia and is well annotated. The audio re-mastering is sprightly and fresh, making it hard to believe this material is over 30 years old. There's an excellent Peel session, featuring a version of "Don't take no for an answer" which trumps the `Rising Free' EP take. There's also 2 vintage BBC concerts for radio: one from March '78 when the original group was at the height of its powers and another 13 months later with the less cohesive 2nd incarnation of the band (still good live though). The "Power In The Darkness" LP is of course the central document of this set and it still stands out as one of the best LPs of its era: well crafted songs, performances and production. The political message is sadly just as relevant now as it was then - the title track could've been written yesterday. And with the "2-4-6-8" b-side - Tom's slight re-write of "I Shall Be Released" - we have one of the best Dylan covers ever.

The added DVD makes this a must-have purchase. Peeling back the years with a fascinating Granada TV documentary which is as much a great piece of social history as it is a TRB one. Lovely to see individual interviews with the band and made even better that the documentary includes some fabulous live performances - Danny Kustow's stage antics during "2-4-6-8 Motorway" are priceless. During his guitar solo he struts, gyrates and gurneys hilariously, both mocking and celebrating the role of `Guitar God'. That duality was at the heart of his playing and now older I appreciate the debt his bluesy, soulful playing owed to Paul Kossoff (Danny's Les Paul was once owed by Kossoff). If Danny's recent appearance in a video-link interview on Tom's website is anything to go by, he's become another sad casualty.

This set is a great trip down memory lane for old gits like myself but there is much to enjoy and marvel at for those of a younger age coming to this music for the first time.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still very relevant after all these years, 1 July 2013
By 
Stuart Hatfield (Harrogate, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
This is a superb comprehensive anthology of the Tom Robinson Band. A 3CD and 1 DVD set compiles the two albums "Power In The Darkness" and "TRB Two" alongside the 1977 John Peel sessions, some additional A and B sides (ask an older person !), a few previously unreleased tracks, two "in concert" BBC sessions and a DVD that accurately highlights that, with the incendiary guitar licks from Danny Kustow and the social comment, you have yourself a band that, at their brief height, could give The Clash a run for their money.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power in the darkness, 11 July 2013
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All you kids who just sit and whine, you should have been there, back in '79.
Take a look on you tube, or something, of all the racist, homophobic, violent and policy derived deprivation shit that was going down back in the late '70's in the UK.
If you wonder how the teenage generation of the time made it through, this music is the answer.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes me back!, 31 July 2013
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This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
I was a fan of TRB back in the day. Had both the LPs and the four track EP and the 45rpm single of 2-4-6-8.

Somewhere in the last 30 years of life, family, profession, these have gone missing. And I don't have the means to play them anyway! So it's great to have these recordings in one set.

Especially love the live stuff. The energy of the band is great - particularly love Danny Kustow's energetic guitar playing.

TRB blossomed for a brief period, but for those of us who were 17 at the time they will not be forgotten.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power in the 21st Century..., 24 July 2013
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This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
Learning all the words to "Martin", being totally blown away standing "Up against the Wall", sharply focussing on "Power in the Darkness"..recalling when "Long Hot Summer" had ultimately concluded, waiting patiently for the Tape to spool, turning it over to experience the initial blast of "Winter of '79" in what may have been the Autumn of '78...tentatively hearing "Bully for You" on local Radio..liking the change..like the progress..I wish I could play like Danny Kustow...Chris Thomas making magic..being so young thinking Bruce Springsteen was fictional..come to think of it I thought Todd Rundgren was too..

But it does sound magnificent..in todays over hyped, misappropriated, adjective strewn World it's still a five star wonder..the playing strangely brings to mind the Isley Brothers & Booker T..see what you think... Of course it's of it's time..most everything Artistic is and until we can come back from the future i'm content living in the past, I prefer it as it's much brighter..
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 12 July 2014
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This review is from: The Anthology (1977 - 1979) (Audio CD)
Replacing the vinyl.
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