Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 25 March 2013

'Bring Down the Moon': Robb Johnson's Excellent New Album Concludes That Apathy Is The Best Friend Of Evil

Have you ever wanted to go skateboarding with Karl Marx, dressed in his Che Guevara T shirt and sporting dreads? Perhaps a cup of tea with Robert Tressel or a train ride with William Blake is more your style? Either way you can have all this and more if you choose to listen to Robb Johnson's brand new offering 'Bring Down the Moon'.



Witty and poignant, touching and political, this is an album full of thought, both political, philosophical and often deeply personal, it also a mature work by a seasoned artist. 

'Bring Down the Moon' is thoughtful, not too polemic, and full of the rational and the poetic in equal measure.

Indeed this is such a good album that it is very hard for me to do justice to it here, but I will try

'Karl Marx Blues' is the by far paciest offering, rattling through great lines like:

"Karl Marx has gone electric. Behind the beard, the bloke wrote lots of dialectics but not that many jokes." This is Marx who wears Converse and tweets on his mobile 


But yet he has not forgotten his roots, amid all this digital 'flannel' Marx 

"Has got a piercing, his tattoo says 'Unite', while Elvis left the building Karl Marx still rocks all night." 

Marx maybe dead but he is still there if we want to find him, his spirit lives on, he is no rock star and he is more Velvet Underground than Rolling Stones. Awesome.

There is a darkness in this work though that reflects the times most of us are having to live through right now. 

'On The Road From Babylon' is very much in the Joe Strummer/Mescaleros style, is very dark journey through modern life. 


"A land of service station and computerised arcades, palaces and pound shops and dead things on parade."

He goes on with Blakean vigour…

"I look in all the faces in every place I go they"re marked with all the traces of such misery and woe. Reaching out for petals and finding only thorns, these shadows on their children and children yet unborn" 

By referencing Blake's works such as 'London', and the 'Garden of Love' as well as Robert Tressel (author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists) and Alice Wheeldon (a WWI pacifist who was falsely imprisoned and died, weakened by the experience of Prison, of the Flu epidemic in 1917) Johnson reminds us that we are not the first to suffer at the hands of rampant capitalism and its barking dogs in industry and its blind apologists in the churches.

 

Johnson is also is trying to illustrate that there are some people, quite ordinary people with no desire for fame, who have fought injustice and are not forgotten. 

For we have become like the French during Nazi occupation, we think that doing nothing is sitting quietly on the fence, staying out of the argument. 

But this is a falsehood; by doing nothing we squarely side with the status quo and are saying: "I agree with all of this wrongfulness and will do nothing to stop it".

Apathy is the best friend of Evil by far, waving it by with a courteous smile and a deferential tip of its hat as it moves on to its next victims. 


Robb's comparison with the roses we import from Africa and the plight of the children who live there is an idea worthy of Blake himself. 

The idea that we spend our time and energy preserving the cheap roses that adorn our garage forecourts while forsaking the lives of the children of Africa is a terrible indictment of our society. 

But he, as usual, says it better than me.

"The roses of Africa are cared for and kept cool and watered
We keep them alive with our science as long as we can
The children of Africa die every day, one a minute 
And what shall they eat when there"s nothing to eat in the land?

Let them eat roses."

Johnson once said of another song of his: "I would hope that the song presents a truer understanding of these events than you find in the mouths of politicians and the media. That is, after all, one of the main functions of folk song." It is, and well done mate, looks like you have done it again. 

'Bring Down The Moon' is out in April, if you have any sense of justice and/or a liking for a kind of folk/punk Strummer-type groove then this is an album for you, so buy it!

Robb Johnson's 'Bring Down the Moon' is out next month (April). Visit robbjohnson.co.uk for more info.


by: Howard Young (Arts Editor)



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