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Cafe Society

The predecessor to Tom Robinson’s solo career, Café Society might well have developed on their own account, had the fates not conspired against them. The band was formed in 1973 with Hereward Kaye and Ray Doyle, and picked up residencies at the Troubadour Club and Bunjies in London’s Earl’s Court and Charing Cross districts. There they were seen by the Kinks’ Ray Davies, who signed them to his new label, Konk. However, these good auspices turned sour when Davies insisted on producing an album to his own satisfaction, rather than according to the ambitions of the folk rock-fixated group. Absent for much of the period due to the Kinks’ touring commitments, Davies imposed electric instruments on Café Society and the results were not impressive. The set was eventually released in 1975, by which time Robinson had become disillusioned with the whole process and left to form the Tom Robinson Band (TRB) with Danny Kustow. However, the bad blood between Davies and Robinson continued, and it took Robinson several months to disentangle himself from Konk, with Davies maintaining an interest in his publishing rights throughout the TRB period. He was as bitter about the whole affair as Robinson too, penning the words, ‘Tried to be gay/But it didn’t pay/So he bought a motorbike instead’ on ‘Prince Of Punks’, the b-side to the Kinks’ 1977 single, ‘Father Christmas’. Hereward Kaye, meanwhile, resurfaced in the 90s as the lyricist for stage musical Moby Dick.
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