Power In The Darkness
This is the album by which Tom Robinson's works have been measured; its consistency is all the more remarkable, since he'd written several keynote tracks while toiling in the go-nowhere folk trio Café Society (such as Robinson's defining anthem, "Glad to Be Gay"). Power in the Darkness is proudly defiant as the era that inspired "Up Against the Wall," "Ain't Gonna Take It," "Long Hot Summer," or "The Winter of '79," which level fierce disdain for social hypocrisy. So does the nearly five-minute title track and funk-rock tour de force, while Chris Thomas' production is as razor sharp as the band itself. Guitarist Danny Kustow's go-for-the-throat style is the driving force; it's storming on the rockers yet suitably restrained on quieter fare like "Too Good to Be True," Robinson's lament for oft-delayed social change. Keyboardist Mark Ambler is equally assertive on colorful Hammond organ swashes, while Robinson plunks down simple, legato basslines, and Brian "Dolpin" Taylor keeps the beat pouncing, where others might let it loiter. The live/studio bonus EP, Rising Free, demonstrates the band's explosive nature. The Ambler-Kustow interplay works to thunderous effect on "Don't Take No for an Answer," Robinson's bittersweet account of a soured publishing deal with the Kinks' Ray Davies; the hit "2-4-6-8 Motorway," one of rock's great drive-all-night numbers; and a searing rearrangement of Bob Dylan's plea for a wrongly accused inmate, "I Shall Be Released." The forceful tone is sometimes undermined by a strident sloganeering streak, as typified by "Right On Sister" or "Better Decide Which Side You're On," but that's a minor complaint amid the music's unflagging strength. Think music and politics don't mix? Listen to this album, and then decide. ~ Ralph Heibutzki, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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