Ordinary Giants – an overview

Ordinary Giants is a song suite by acclaimed songwriter Robb Johnson based on the life and times of his father, Ron Johnson. It’s a family history of the 1930s, the Second World War and the Welfare State, performed by over 30 people, from well-known names like Tom Robinson, Claire Martin, Boff Whalley, Roy Bailey, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, MP Dennis Skinner, FBU activist Steve White, Joe Solo, Tracey Curtis, Alan Clayson, Matthew Crampton, to children from the school where Robb taught. Robb’s parents are sung by Phil Odgers (from The Men They Couldn’t Hang) and Miranda Sykes (currently playing bass with Show of Hands). Musicians include Rory McLeod, Bobby Valentino, Jenny Carr, and Robb’s longstanding rhythm section, John Forrester on bass and son Arvin Johnson on drums.

There are songs and spoken word pieces about the social realities of the 30s, the growth of fascism, the experience of the second world war, the NHS, comprehensive schools, anti-racism and the attacks on the welfare state by the Right.  Some of the songs are funny, some are sad, some are love songs and some are political satires (UKIP phones in to demand their song “All You Need is Tweed” is included on the album). The album is dedicated to the generation that built the welfare state, and a celebration of the idea that we can make a better world through collective action.