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ROBB JOHNSON "Margaret Thatcher My Part In Her Downfall"
Irregular Records IRR042

In this retrospective of his classics from the 1980s, Robb Johnson pokes fun at his own image. Indeed, his reputation as a polemicist kept me, and no doubt others, from checking him out 'til late on in his career. As he shows here, there was always much more, notably his sense of humour and his wealth of songs which deal with love and tenderness. Sometimes those boundaries are blurred. I had never realised that 'Rosa's Lovely Daughters' had such a political message.

With 20 songs and nearly 80 minutes of music, Johnson shows us that he still stands up for his principles in commercial dealings. Here we find songs like those made famous by interpreters like Roy Bailey and Maggie Holland: the rousing 'Boxing Day'; the never more pertinent 'This Is The UK Talking', 'Touch and Go' and that heart-stopping take on the Holocaust, 'I Close My Eyes'. New to me were earlier political songs like 'Captain Swing', 'The Animals Song' and '6B Go Swimming', looking at issues which he has revisited in later, sometimes more sensitive songs, but in many, as in 'Singing For The Moon', originally directed at Pinochet, and 'Undefeated', the message lives on after the passing of the original problem.

This is just Johnson with guitar, in that laid-back mood when he gets so minimalist that, at times, you think he'll disappear down the hole in the middle of the CD, but the songs still stand up and leave you with the feeling there is still hope for the world.


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This album was reviewed in Issue 40 of The Living Tradition magazine.