From Miles, Max, Nina, Billie, Charlie, Abbey, to Bob, Leonard, John, Joe Strummer, Patti, and Neil to cite a very select few; I have tremendous reverence for musicians who speak truth to power regardless of the consequences.
Among those who awakened many of my generation included Tom Robinson, bassist and bandleader of the amazing and highly influential Tom Robinson Band (TRB) which spanned the years 1976-79. Robinson is one of rock’s most underappreciated poets.
Akin to the above referenced artists, Robinson possesses that rare gift of combining an activist, intellectual libretto with great songs and melodies. To my ears, “Up Against the Wall,” “Ain’t Gonna Take It,” “Glad to Be Gay,” “Blue Murder,” “Right On Sister,” and “2-4-6-8 Motorway” represent a brief overview the entire TRB canon which remains as relevant today as it did nearly four decades ago. As a bassist who came to the instrument out of necessity, Robinson, with his signature Fender P sound, was a stellar player.
Though his band was branded punk, Tom and the TRB were much more expansive – incorporating blues, jazz, soul, cabaret, dance-hall, and reggae motifs into their two essential albums: Power in the Darkness (1978) and TRB II (1979), and singles. After Robinson split the TRB, he forged an impressive solo career which continues to this day; though I understand he does not play live much anymore.