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Any Trouble

Any Trouble were an underappreciated bright spot on Stiff Records, a label that had no shortage of talented artists. Bandleader Clive Gregson's appearance, hardened love songs, and vocal style may have led to comparisons to Elvis Costello, but they were no second-rate ripoff -- each of their four albums revealed a songwriter of unique talent and a more than capable band to execute the songs.

Manchester native Gregson formed the original band in 1975 while attending teaching school in Crewe, taking the group's name from a misquote from the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles. After a brief moment as a folky trio, by 1976 Any Trouble changed to a four-piece rock group, speeding up their repertoire in response to the punk movement -- by this point the lineup was Gregson (vocals/guitar), Chris Parks (guitar), Phil Barnes (bass), and Mel Harley (drums). They built a strong following playing the pub circuit and released their own single, catching the attention of Radio 1's John Peel, who quickly took to the band and played the song on his show. This exposure started a small-scale bidding war from several labels. By 1980, the group signed with Stiff Records.

Stiff enlisted John Wood, a renowned producer (Nick Drake, John Martyn, Richard Thompson) who had recently produced Squeeze, to produce Any Trouble's first album. Where Are All the Nice Girls?, which had all the makings of a new wave classic, was met with some rave reviews but failed to rack up the big sales that were expected of it. After the record failed commercially, Stiff suggested that Gregson drop the band and redefine himself as a solo artist à la Elvis Costello -- "Buddy Gregson." Gregson declined, deciding instead to replace the band's weak link, drummer Harley, with the more capable Martin Hughes. They began work on the follow-up immediately.

Wheels in Motion (1981), while certainly more accomplished, lacked the spark of the first album and the record simply didn't catch on in the U.K. Any Trouble took a stab at stateside success with a small promotional tour. Halfway through the tour, the bandmembers heard by word of mouth that they had been dropped by Stiff and were left stranded in America. Eventually they found their way back, but the stress of the situation broke up the band temporarily -- for about 18 months.

A new deal was arranged with EMI America in 1982. Hughes left the band and was replaced by Andy Ebsworth, and Steve Gurl was added on keyboards. Chris Parks left shortly thereafter. Essentially a new band, the four-piece recorded Any Trouble in 1983. Again, the same story -- should've been a hit; somehow overlooked. Gregson, knowing the band couldn't last much longer, talked EMI into letting Any Trouble do a double album. As a parting shot, Gregson and company stretched out for Wrong End of the Race, a sprawling album that allowed them to show their diversity and influences over 25 tracks of new originals, remakes of earlier Any Trouble songs, and a few covers. In America, the album was distilled down to a single record. "Baby Now That I Found You" saw some airplay on MTV; the reviews were good, but the band's cult status didn't change. In 1984, the band played its last gig and called it quits. Gregson went on to a distinguished, though still underappreciated, career both as a solo artist and as a collaborator with Christine Collister.

Thirty years later, Gregson revived Any Trouble to record a new album and do a tour that played dates in England and Spain. Present Tense, the reunited group's new album, appeared in November 2015. ~ Chris Woodstra
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Girls Are Always Right: The Stiff Years

1. Yesterday's Love

2. Second Choice

3. Playing Bogart

4. Nice Girls

5. Turning Up The Heat

6. Romance

7. Girls Are Always Right

8. Name Of The Game

9. Working On The Night Shift

10. Growing Up

11. Trouble With Love

12. Open Fire

13. As Lovers Do

14. Walking In Chains

15. Dimming Of The Day

16. To Be A King

17. Eastern Promise

18. Wheels In Motion

19. Snapshot

20. Follow That Car

x

Track List: Where Are All The Nice Girls?

1. Yesterday's Love

2. Second Choice

3. Playing Bogart

4. Foolish Pride

5. Nice Girls

6. No Idea

7. Turning Up The Heat

8. Romance

9. The Hurt

10. Girls Are Always Right

11. Growing Up

12. Honolulu

13. (Get You Off) The Hook

x

Track List: Official Live Bootleg

1. The Hurt (Live)

2. Second Choice (Live)

3. Foolish Pride (Live)

4. Nice Girls (Live)

5. Yesterday's Love (Live)

6. Get You Off The Hook (Live)

7. Girls Are Always Right (Live)

8. Follow That Car (Live)

9. Growing Up (Live)

10. Turning Up The Heat (Live)

11. Working On The Night Shift (Live)

x

Track List: Wheels In Motion

1. Trouble With Love

2. Open Fire

3. As Lovers Do

4. Walking In Chains

5. Dimming Of The Day

6. Another Heartache

7. To Be A King

8. Power Cut

9. Eastern Promise

10. The Sun Never Sets

11. Wheels In Motion

12. Snapshot

13. Follow That Car

Comments

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One of the best bands of the 80's. Shame they never made it. Better than Squeeze
Report as inappropriate
Boring, unimaginativ e and derivative. Thumbs down
Report as inappropriate
Who knew? Cool!
Report as inappropriate
how in the world is Any Trouble like R.E.M.?
Report as inappropriate
Yesterday's Love was great, but my favorite Any Trouble song will always be Second Choice. Great vocals and riffs.
Long live Stiff Records and the heroes of my college days!
Report as inappropriate
Saw Gregson perform in a church solo a couple of years ago. Fantastic performance! Singing seemed effortless for him. Loved it.
Report as inappropriate
flynnbm4
Thanks again Stiff records. Your sampler albums from late 70's and 80's introduced me to these guys. Yesterday's Love is my favorite tune.

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