Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sweet 7"s of the '80s - Listen To The Radio

Tom Robinson began his career in the '70s s part of the acoustic trio Café Society. Their debut album was produced by Ray Davies from the Kinks. According to Tom's bio it only sold about 600 copies. He was also an openly gay man - not a common thing at the time - and his experiences living in London's gay community informed his music. Inspired by having seen the Sex Pistols, he left Café Society and formed the Tom Robinson Band. They were homo-political pub-slash-proto-punk rockers, and they scored an early hit with the tune 2-4-6-8 Motorway. However, it was a tune from it's follow-up EP that gave him his most notorious moment - the live version of the song Glad To Be Gay was banned by the BBC. The ensuing album was big but the TRB fell apart. In the early '80s Tom moved on to front the hotly hyped Sector 27. They recorded one critically lauded album with Steve Lillywhite and then they too fell apart. In 1983 he returned to the British charts with a mellow ballad called War Baby - a great tune with a smokin' sax solo. I thought about posting that one, but instead decided to share the follow-up, a song that he co-wrote with Peter Gabriel called Listen To The Radio (Atmospherics). A moderately funky slow jam, it rides a chunky groove, features soulful back ups and lots of great horn parts (love the Guy Barker trumpet solo) as well as Tom's gruff, melancholic voice. A nice little piece of '80s obscurity.

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