Nick Peters - keyboards; Danny Kustow - lead guitar; Brian "Dolphin" Taylor - drums, vocals; Tom Robinson - lead vocals, bass
New York, during the summer of 1978, was a hotbed of potent punk. Artists such as Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, the Police, The Pretenders, The Clash, and the Tom Robinson Band all presented some their most memorable Big Apple performances during this period. 1978 was certainly a big year for singer-songwriter Tom Robinson. His debut LP got critical raves, and the song "2-4-6-8 Motorway" had became a new-wave radio hit. But in the end, Robinson didn't live up to the hype that had dubbed him the "next big thing" to invade and conquer America.
While Robinson made a considerable impact on the major market where the punk club scene was very active, he failed to cross over to the average American music fan the way he had in much of Europe.
This is one of four sweaty sets of TRB music recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour at the Bottom Line club in New York City. Robinson, who played bass and sang in his band, basically runs through his entire first album, and ends up playing his single "2-4-6-8 Motorway" as his encore for most of these shows, because he simply ran out of songs to play.
Apart from the obvious new wave rockers such as "Don't Take No For An Answer," "Long Hot Summer," "Power In The Darkness," and "Ain't Gonna Take It", there are a number of songs that go far deeper, lyrically. "Grey Cortina" is the perfect snapshot of England during the birth of punk, and "Glad To Be Gay" became Robinson's political anthem. He closes all the shows with a steamy re-make of The Velvet Underground's"Waiting For The Man."
Tom Robinson and his band were part of the same UK punk/new wave scene that launched the careers of The Pretenders, the Police, Elvis Costello, and Nick Lowe.
With his gritty, streetwise swagger, Robinson was expected to have a big career both in his native U.K. and here in the U.S., where FM radio was beginning to embrace this brave new style of music. What set Robinson aside from many of his contemporaries was his openly gay stance, which was integral to both his music and his public relations campaign.
Although his infectious dance club rocker "2-4-6-8 Motorway" was the song that broke Robinson in both the clubs and on the radio, it was his controversial anthem, "(Sing if you're) Glad to be Gay," that gained him the most media exposure. While David Bowie, The New York Dolls, T Rex, Lou Reed, and other rockers that emerged in the early '70s glam-rock movement also heralded the feminine side of men, they were clearly androgynous, or at least, bi-sexual in their approach. Robinson was the first international music artist willing to be rock's advocate for Gay Rights.
For a short while, Robinson and his sexual politics were all the rage, but he soon fell out of favor with the rock media, and eventually, his fans. He released a handful of albums through the mid-1980s before becoming a musician who toured only occasionally. He eventually broke up the Tom Robinson Band and settled into the life of a popular club DJ in England.
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