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Vox Magazine Review 1992

VOX - October 1992
Living In A Boom Time
(Cooking Vinyl COOK CDO52)

Across eleven tracks, recorded live on tour in Ireland earlier this year, Tom Robinson reinvents himself as a solo folk singer. But where some faded rock stars may clutch desperately at the acoustic guitar, as a straw to save them from the harsh realities of life without chart positions, our Tom would appear to have made a sound and successful career move.

Shorn of the obligatory bass, drums and electric guitars', Robinson reveals a bite at the bottom of his voice-and a dozen more tonsiliary textures besides which will come as a considerable surprise to those who remember only the one-dimensional, weak and watery sound of his singing on the likes of '2-4-6-8 Motorway' and 'Glad To Be Gay'.

Standing alone and vulnerable like this, Robinson still manages to infuse his material with a strong sense of meaning, without having to resort to the blatant sloganeering which has often blighted his writing since the late '70s.

But then, with the possible exception of 'Yuppie Scum', Robinson's own translation of Jacques Brel's inflammatory 'Les Bourgeois', the songs here are uniformly less angry and embittered than they were back in his heyday as a pinko Punk.

Robinson's subject matter on 'Living In A Boom Time', 'My Own Sweet Way', 'Rigging It Up Duncannon' and 'The Brits Come Rolling Back' is still everyday social injustice in the post-AIDS, post-Thatcher era. But he now handles his themes with a weary resignation which, paradoxically, pushes the message home all the more effectively. And entertainingly.

Such a shift in emphasis may well prompt the agitprop fraternity to accuse him of going soft politically but, for the rest of us, Living In A Boom Time is Tom Robinson's most appealing album in years.

Album Review by Chas de Whalley

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