Living In A Boom Time [1992]

by Tom Robinson

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about

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Solo, acoustic, recorded live at club gigs in Ireland: this first 90s album for Cooking Vinyl captures the spirit of a TR solo show around that time. 'More Lives Than One' is better than the original, and 'Castle Island' is unavailable on any other album.
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VOX Magazine - October 1992
TOM ROBINSON
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.

Chas de Whalley

credits

released February 3, 2013

Guitar, keyboard & vocals by Tom Robinson
Guests: Ciaran Wilde, sax on War Baby
Peter Stewart, backing vocal on Back In The Ould Country.

Original recordings engineered by Ali O'Riada at Nancy Spain's in Cork, The Purty Loft in Dun Laoghaire, Whelan's in Dublin and The Mansion House in Waterford.

Post production engineering, mixes and compilation by John Davis at Turbot Studio, London.
Sleeve design by Cactus.

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tags: pop music London

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about

Tom Robinson London, UK

Tom Robinson (b.1950) is a UK songwriter & broadcaster first known in the 70s as an anti-racist and LGBT campaigner. He released 19 albums between 1975-2001 with various bands and has co-written songs with Elton John, Peter Gabriel, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. He's an award-winning presenter at BBC Radio 6 Music, and released Only The Now (his first album in 19 years) in October 2015. ... more

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Track Name: Intro
A word or two I'll sing to you
On why I'm here alone
I came to play for you today
My band are safe at home
A solo thing I've come to sing
It may have been unwise
Cos I'm a heavy metal bigoted rock and roller
In disguise

I hate traditional harmonies
And men with beards and pipes
I hate the feel of an eightsome reel
And smoky cellars at night
Steeleye Span I cannot stand
But Christy Moore's alright
Cos he's a heavy metal bigoted rock and roller
In disguise
Track Name: Living In A Boom Time
Whatever happened to the old brigade
The hopes we had and the plans we made
Days and nights we spent together
Now those days are gone forever

Martin studied and he made the grade
Emigrated to the USA
Now he's working for Edison Con
On a research project, making a bomb

Ben's been selling retirement homes
Pinstripe whistle and a cellnet phone
Ripping off pensioners don't look good
If he didn't do it some other guy would

Pad those shoulders, swing those hips
Don't get angry, read my lips... we've all got

New opportunities... knock-knock-knocking in a boom time
New opportunities... Let's forget about the gloom time... these are your
New opportunities... knock-knock-knocking in a boom time
New opportunities... Let's forget about the doom time (soon time)

Margo's happy with her cats and dogs
Given up people as a total loss
Says dumb animals got no choice
Firebombs laboratories to give 'em a voice

Dave just privatised his council flat
Home owner, drop of a hat
Interest went up, he couldn't pay
Big corporation gonna take it away

Shrug those shoulders, let's get hip
Don't get angry, read my lips... we've all got

New opportunities... knock-knock-knocking in a boom time
New opportunities... Let's forget about the gloom time... these are your
New opportunities... knock-knock-knocking in a boom time

New opportunities... Let's forget about the doom time (soon time)

Jamie's working out at the gym
No more dangerous living for him
Given up alcohol and ecstasy
Ever since he diagnosed HIV

No more parties, no more trips
Wise up suckers, read my lips... these are your

New opportunities... knock-knock-knocking in a boom time
New opportunities... Let's forget about the gloom time... these are your
New opportunities... knock-knock-knocking in a boom time
New opportunities... Let's forget about the doom time (soon time)
Track Name: Blood Brother
Ben was born in Lincoln County and he grew up in the fens
Teased and bullied by his brothers in a family of ten
Sociable and easygoing - helping out around the home
While his inner life ticked on like an unexploded bomb
Just waiting for his moment

Going shopping with his mother like a whippet on the leash
Always straining at the traces - out of sight and out of reach
And anytime the house was empty he would work out on his own
Disappearing on his bike in the middle of the night
And stealing from the kitchen

Open your eyes...
Open your eyes... here I am
I'm your blood brother

Well he saved up his allowance and he studied like a slave
Worked his passage to Australia to try and make his getaway
I was single when I met him - he was bitter and nineteen
And he so reminded me of someone I used to be
A long long time ago

Open your eyes... I said
Open your eyes... here I am
I'm your blood brother

Now the years have been and vanished and I've lost a lot of friends
I do twenty at the pool then take my kid to school
Since the party had to end;

But at a benefit last Sunday we met again as if by fate
I barely recognised Ben when he grabbed me again
And whispered in my ear:

Open your eyes... he said
Open your eyes... here I am
I am your blood brother
Track Name: More Lives Than One
Day after day I've been living in dread
Cheating at work and lying in bed
No hard feelings, just a bit of regret
I could have been lying in your arms instead
I'm glad that I married and I love my kids
I wish I'd never met you
But I'm glad that I did
Now I'm sitting in the middle

Trying to fit in more lives than one

Day after day I've been slipping away
Playing the games I don't want to play
Sooner or later there's a reckoning day
I'm so, so sorry - but what can I say?
I feel like a heel but I can't decide
Between the life I always wanted
And the loving that I like
So I'm sitting in the middle
And it's hitting more lives than one
It's a bitter situation
And it's taken more lives than one
Track Name: Yuppy Scum
Heads up in the clouds, noses in our beers
Sat on a bench outside the Station Inn
Me and my friend JoJo with our good friend Pierre
Drink to the passing of our teens
Jojo thinks he's Jean Genet - Pierre he's Casanova
And me, the most modest of the three
Me, I simply see myself as me
And late at night we'd see the professional classes
Leaving the hotel restaurant
We'd show our good manners and we'd show them our asses
And then we'd chant:

Yuppie scum - smug and dumb
The richer they are, the thicker they get
Yuppie scum - smug and dumb
As they get old they all forget

Heads up in the clouds, noses to the grind
Sat on a bench outside the Station Inn
Me and my friend JoJo with our good friend Pierre
Drink to the way our lives had been
Jean Genet's forgotten his words
And Casanova's on his knees
And me, as for good old modest me
Me, I'm as drunk as only I can be
And late at night we'd see the professional classes
Leaving the hotel restaurant
We'd show them our good manners and we'd show them our asses
And then we'd chant:

Yuppie scum - smug and dumb
The richer they are, the thicker they get
Yuppie scum - smug and dumb
As they get old they all forget

Heads up in the clouds, champagne every night
To celebrate our great success
JoJo he's a broker, Pierre's at the bar
We've all done well I must confess
Jojo still talks of Jean Genet
But Casanova's just a book on the shelf
And me, as for good old modest me
Me, me I talk only of myself
And every night outside the Station Inn, Inspector
Whenever we leave this restaurant
Those little assholes always drop their pants
And then they chant:

Yuppie scum - smug and dumb
The richer they are, the thicker they get
Yuppie scum - smug and dumb
As they get old they all forget
Track Name: My Own Sweet Way
I grew up on the Gaza strip
A pirate and a clown
And no-one in authority
Could ever grind me down

Been upside down and inside out
More cynical than sinning
And if you think you know me well
I'm only just beginning...

Hey, hey... I can't stay
I'm gonna go my own sweet way
Living life from day to day
No matter what you do or say
Hey, hey, hey... my own sweet way

Society has lied to me
I grew up and believed
That men were men and never cry
Or show the way they feel

You filled me up with prejudice
And tried to waste my time
You won't get any more of me
The rest is strictly mine

Hey, hey... I can't stay
I'm gonna go my own sweet way
Living life from day to day
No matter what you do or say
Hey, hey, hey... my own sweet way

I wish I'd seen it all before
I wish I'd wondered how
to smell the rain and see the trees
I'm glad to have it now

And looking back on everything
I've undergone and known

It's funnier than words can say
And way too close to home

Hey, hey... I can't stay
I'm gonna go my own sweet way
Living life from day to day
No matter what you do or say
Hey, hey, hey... my own sweet way
Track Name: Castle Island
Where the sun lights up still waters in the harbour,
And where hungry eyes once stared out to the sea,
Yes it's there that I'll come home, across the dancing foam,
And once again I'll walk on Castle Island

I remember years ago the place seemed quieter,
The rain fell softer still, the moon shone brighter
Maybe memory plays its' games, and the beauty's still the same
As when I took my first steps on Castle Island

I smiled as I walked up past the old ballroom
Where in sharp creased suits we'd laugh and dance till dawn
And when Mary said 'I will' my heart with joy was filled
But we cried as we sailed out from Castle Island

The city that we came to was a stranger,
Where neighbours passed you by without a word,
The work we did was hard and filled with danger,
Never found the promised land of which we'd heard

We met up with fellow souls who'd left the old place,
And we'd drown our dreams in pints and whiskeys smooth,
And when Liam would sing a song, we'd be carried all along,
Transported through the tune to Castle Island

Now the years lie heavy on my aching shoulders,
And my weary bones cry out for rest at last,
When the circle is complete, the good earth will taste so sweet,

As they lay me down to sleep on Castle Island,
With my own folk I shall sleep 'neath Castle Island
Track Name: Rigging It Up, Duncannon
My name's Duncannon and I used to deal
As a radar rigger on the Forties field
But in my face you'll see the scar
Of the petrodollar and the German car

Oh, no no - Rigging it up Duncannon
Oh, no no - Rigging it up tonight

Worked on a pipeline pumping crude
And lived with the shiftwork, gales and food
But the greatest danger, near or far
Were the boardroom barons with a German car

Oh, no no - Rigging it up Duncannon
Oh, no no - Rigging it up tonight

They'd save on safety maintenance
They were mean and underhand
They'd maximise their bottom lines
In shelter on the land...

It was 0300 on the brig
When the nightmare happened on our sister rig
I can see the fireball in my dreams
As the dot disappeared from the radar screens

Oh, no no - Rigging it up Duncannon
Oh, no no - Rigging it up tonight

They sent for their insurance men
They sent for Red Adair
They sent the rescue services
To the rig that wasn't there...

You whizzkid cowboys of the range
As you make your killing on the Stock Exchange

Remember the men you pressed too far
For the petrodollar and a German car

Oh, no no - Rigging it up Duncannon
Oh, no no - Rigging it up tonight
Track Name: The Brits Come Rolling Back
The Brits come back to Dover
With our hovercraft and hats
With slogans on our T-shirts
And salmonella snacks
Our beer is warm and cloudy
Like the water in our taps
A welcome on the quayside
When the Brits come rolling back

You set 'em up... we'll knock 'em down
We are the champion diplomats
You set 'em up... we'll knock 'em down
When the Brits come rolling back

The Brits come back to Dover
Wearing blazers and cravats
We ponce about in Volvos
Full of beaujolais in racks
Our flesh is singed a lobster red
And peeling from the backs
Of screaming savage children
When the Brits come rolling back

You set 'em up... we'll knock 'em down
We are the champion diplomats
You set 'em up... we'll knock 'em down
When the Brits come rolling back

The Brits come back to Dover
With our tolerance and tact
Our famous sense of humour
And behaviour at the match

We shout about who won the war
And roam around in packs
You'd hardly know it's over
When the Brits come rolling back

You set 'em up... we'll knock 'em down
We are the champion diplomats
You set 'em up... we'll knock 'em down
When the Brits come rolling back

top of page
Track Name: War Baby (Acoustic)
Only the very young and the very beautiful can be so aloof
Hanging out with the boys, all swagger and poise
I don't even care what other people are there
I just stare and stare and stare

I see your shadow in the swimming pool
I see your face in the shaving mirror
Time and time and time again
I follow your footsteps so quietly up the backstairs
And I hope and I pray you're never going to find me there

Smooth skin and tenderness long ago on a dark night
Wish I could see you once again just to remember it was true
I want to be still beside you - quiet and still beside you
Listening to your breathing and feeling your warmth again

War baby - you were a
War baby - this means
War baby - I'm scared, so scared
Of whatever it is you keep putting me through

I don't think I could stand another ten years of this fighting
All this stabbing and wounding - only getting my own back
I don't want to batter you to your feet and knees and elbows
When I'm kneeling like a candle at the foot of my own bed

Corresponding disasters every night on the TV
Sickening reality keeps gripping me in its guts
All my friends talk and joke and laugh about Armageddon
But like a nightmare it's still waiting there at the end of every day

War baby... etc.

I don't think I could stand another ten years of this fighting
All this stabbing and wounding - only getting my own back
But later that same evening we were out in the car talking
When I suddenly wondered who the hell it was we were trying to fool

Co you were the first one that I ever wanted
And it's you I come home to at the end of every day
Like a mother-sucking baby, demanding and so helpless
A little old balding man, all wrinkles and bulging eyes

War baby... etc.

So here we all are back in the Old Country
On a cold dark Friday night, forgotten by the world outside
Out in the houses... people finish their dinner and watch TV
Get ready for bed and dream about the weekend
You and me, we're so so alone in the middle of this crowded room
It's gonna be so cold - wonder which way the wind blows
Oh, how much longer...

War baby... etc.
Track Name: Back In The Ould Country
I had guinness with a Hot Press photographer in a Dublin pub
He wore a crucifix and a short fat beard
Showed me pictures of Gavin Thursday, Three Men And A Dog
With the Joshua Duo stood around looking weird

Met a Sid Vicious lookalike and he was six foot four
Had spikes on his dog collar made of solder
He was sitting in Bewley's caff in a dirty old gaberdine mac
He was 17 but he looked about ten years older... that was

Back in the Ould Country, back in the Ould Country
Back in the Ould Country, back in the Ould Country

10am one Sunday, Diceman hadn't been near his bed
And he was gargling creme de menthe just to keep awake
He'd been rolling through night, and got ossified in Sides
He look so smashed and happy it made my day, that was

Back in the Ould Country, back in the Ould Country
Back in the Ould Country, back in the Ould Country

Headed into Limerick on the Clonmel road
In a beat-up rented Nissan with no brakes
Saw a Garda on the beat with two size 13 feet
Ten convent girls and a nun on roller skates... that was

Back in the Ould Country, back in the Ould Country
Back in the Ould Country, back in the Ould Country