...isn't Led Zeppelin.
(Jimmy Page, feh!)
...isn't The Police
(bite me, Sting!)
And it's not even The Stooges
(okay, their new album is really good, but never mind).
No, hands down it's these guys!
That's Any Trouble, of course, and I have loved them with a red hot passion since their utterly addictive first album Where Are All the Nice Girls appeared on Stiff Records back in 1980. They were the perfect unpretentious pop rock package -- a classic two guitars/bass/drums lineup with a brilliantly emotive frontman/auteur in Clive Gregson and a hot lead player in Chris Parks, along with gloriously melodic songs (mostly about girls) full of passion, humor, and drive, plus the best Bruce Springsteen cover ever ("Growin' Up"). They should have been huge, and probably would have if not for Gregson's superficial resemblance (both visually and as a writer) to Elvis Costello, but they were surprisingly influential -- my own band back then stole so much from them it should have been criminal -- and this week, when I accidentally discovered that they'd just released Life in Reverse, their first new album since 1984 (on the revived Stiff label), it was as close to a religious experience as I've had in ages. (And don't even ask how I felt when I first watched the video for "That Sound" -- it was the new Any Trouble song of my dreams made flesh).
Oh, and here's the bonus: I never got a chance to see them live, to my eternal regret, but after chancing across this new stuff, imagine my astonishment when I discovered there's at long last a high quality video of them at their peak (early '81) on YouTube (complete with hilarious banter with a Swedish TV host whose English could be better).
Incidentally, if this stuff does it for you, Gregson has had a long and quite wonderful career on his own; he did a memorable stint in Richard Thompson's band, and more recently he's been working with Nanci Griffiths. In the meantime, that first album has been reissued in an expanded remastered version and needless to say you should get it immediately.