# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Tom Robinson - Only the Now

  by John Clarkson

published: 9 / 11 / 2015

Tom Robinson - Only the Now
Label: Castaway Northwest Recordings
Format: CD


Only partially successful comeback album from influential 70's singer-songwriter and protest musician, Tom Robinson

'Only the Now' is the first album since 1996 from the influential 70's singer-songwriter and protest musician turned 6 Music DJ, Tom Robinson ('Glad to Be Gay', '2-4-6-8 Motorway' and 'War Baby'). 'Merciful God', which appears early on 'Only the Now', is its outstanding track and Robinson at his very best, combining social commentary with moral fury. Backed by cascading buzzsaw guitar from Andy Phillips and thunderous violin from album producer Gerry Diver, both of which are underpinned for all their discordance with a tight sense of melody, it was inspired by a CNN interview that Robinson saw with an American bomber pilot at the time of the Iraqi war and makes the astute point that fundamentalism is not always something that is confined to the non-English speaking world ("I am not fearful/I am doing the job that God put me here for"). Unfortunately a lot of' Only the Now' is a lot less successful. 'Mighty Sword of Justice' is solid enough, but with its marching tune, rattling drums and lyrics bemoaning the evils of social class ("There is one law for the rich and another for the poor"), one is left feeling that Robinson, while right, is treading a well-worn path and that the writer of 'Glad to Be Gay' and 'War Baby' is capable of more. 'Holy Smoke', in which Robinson describes how in his adolescence he found an alternative use for the Bible ("("Ripping out and rolling up the Scriptures/The fire inside me makes me choke."), adds nothing to the pro-religion/anti-religion debate, and is more puerile rather than funny. Even the appearances of a rapper, a choir and Sir Ian McKellen as God can't save it. When Robinson does, however, hit the mark, he hits its well. Recent single 'Don't Jump, Don't Fail', about the suicide of a teenage boy from the wrong side of the tracks who Robinson and his wife used to take occasionally out or let stay over, is heartbreaking, and the combination of a spoken word narrative from a guilt-ridden Robinson and sublime vocals from Mancurian soul singer Forsyth Griffiths genuinely poignant. The sparsely-beautiful and acoustic title track and closing number meanwhile finds Robinson wisely acknowledging, however attractive the nostalgia of the past, whatever may happen in the future, that all that any of us can really deal with is the present ("There is only the now/Only the now/Don't ever wish it away"). 'Only the Now' is a mixture of an album then, but shows that when he can turn his mind to it Robinson is still a singer-songwriter of both great subtlety and force.

Track Listing:-
1 Home In the Morning
2 Merciful God
3 The Mighty Sword of Justice
4 Don't Jump, Don't Fall
5 Holy Smoke
6 Cry Out
7 Never Get Old
8 In My Life
9 One Way Street
10 Risky Business
11 Only the Now

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Interview (2020)
Tom Robinson - Interview
Singer-songwriter and punk veteran Tom Robinson speaks to John Clarkson about his forthcoming 70th birthday and his past and present career.
Interview (2018)
Interview (2015)

live reviews

Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 6/11/2015
Tom Robinson - Queens Hall, Edinburgh, 6/11/2015
John Clarkson watches protest musician and singer-songwriter Tom Robinson play an impressive show at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh on his first tour in almost twenty years to promote his album 'Only the Now'


Photoscapes (2018)
Tom Robinson - Photoscapes
Keith Ainsworth photographs Tom Robinson at a show in in Liverpool to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of his former group the Tom Robinson Band's debut album ‘Power in the Darkness’.

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Tom Robinson: Photography (2018
Tom Robinson - Photoscapes
Keith Ainsworth photographs Tom Robinson at a show in in Liverpool to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of his former group the Tom Robinson Band's debut album ‘Power in the Darkness’.

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