Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Rock Reunion of the Year....

...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.


TJWood said...


I have to admit to never having heard Any Trouble before. I probably heard the name back then, and I am familiar with the name Clive Gregson from his Richard Thompson connection, but never did get to hear them. I'll say this: if I hadn't been watching the video, I would swear these guys were in the late 20's or early 30's, that's how fresh they sound. As a song, I actually prefer "That Sound" to the song in the 1981 video, and, lack of hair aside, they've aged quite well. Is the rest of this band besides Gregson the same as it was back in the day?

steve simels said...

It's Gregson and the guitar player from the original lineup -- the drummer came in from their second edition, when they were on EMI if memory serves.

You're right, of course, it's a wonderful song...I don't know if the rest of the album is as good (I have it on order) but I'm betting it is.

You need to hear the first one, though. Every track is a gem....

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I was going to ask Mary if she wanted a copy of WAANG but I wasn't sure they were really in the power pop side of the books. It's kind of an odd album, as far as production values go - imo, it sounds very much like a low budget debut album.

Still, they're fun to listen to. (And if anyone would like a "loaner copy", let me know.)

steve simels said...

ripley --

If Mary doesn't have one, she needs to. In fact, I can't believe I haven't already burned her one.

Hmmm...maybe I have. Can't remember if we've talked about them....

Anonymous said...

I only knew of Clive Gregson from is duo work with Christine Collister (who I saw in Seattle in the 80's some time) and wasn't even aware of Any Trouble. Good stuff.

I was really knocked out by him and Christine I remember and I hadn't thought of it until seeing this. Youtube her stuff. She is performing solo and playing guitar. Back then only Clive played and she just sang.

Thanks for reminding me.

Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, it couldn't have been the 80's. Must have been early 90's?

I'm old. (not as old as steve of course)