Sector 27

Sector 27

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Having rode the conveyor belt from spokesman to also-ran with the Tom Robinson Band (TRB), Robinson did the logical thing. He sidestepped the fray for nearly a year, ditching the old fist-in-the-air righteousness for a series of reflective songs propelled by new collaborator Jo Burt's trebly, overdriven bass. Not surprisingly, Robinson's music-business experiences provided a tempting, if obvious target. "Looking at You" twits impersonal rock stars, while "Take It or Leave It" wryly finds no difference between major and indie labels' business ethics ("Do as we say the alternative way, remember who's running the show"). However, Robinson's lyrical view had grown past his profession to jab faceless welfare bureaucracies ("Total Recall") and closeted gays ("Not Ready"). "Where Can We Go Tonight" examines life from a bored teen couple's viewpoint, and "Bitterly Disappointed" is a caustic father-to-son address. The album's production inevitably sounds dated, especially for the harsh, metallic chicken-scratch guitar sound that was so in vogue at the time, but the material is solid and did much to reassure TRB fans of their man's commitment to gut-punching, yet thoughtful rock & roll. However, Sector 27 couldn't shake off TRB's legacy and split after a year of marginal gigging, while Robinson resumed his solo career, which gradually assumed a more middle-of-the-road flavor than his previous work. This album is the last stand of a man deciding where he fits among his peers and acquitting himself well in the process.

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