Clive Gregson & Christine Collister were the most moving and memorable U.K. folk-rock duo to emerge since Richard & Linda Thompson. Gregson's wry tales of the ins and outs of love, sung in Collister's heartbreaking voice, earned the duo (and subsequent solo work) respect and a devoted following, though commercial success and mainstream recognition eluded them. Gregson (b. Jan 4, 1955) was the founder of Any Trouble, a pub rock/new wave quartet, in Manchester in 1975. The band's sound, and Gregson's songwriting and singing, reminded some of Elvis Costello, and Any Trouble were signed by Stiff, Costello's label. The band made several well-remembered but poor-selling albums, then split up in 1984.
In 1984, Gregson discovered Collister singing in a folk club and, impressed by her talents, he offered to work with her on future projects. Gregson had already begun an association with Richard Thompson, initially singing backup on the classic Shoot Out the Lights album in 1982. While working on Thompson's Hand of Kindness, Gregson suggested using Collister for additional backup vocal duties. The formula worked and the two continued for years as integral parts of the Richard Thompson touring band -- arguably the finest live band he ever assembled. In 1985, Gregson made a solo album, Strange Persuasions, with Collister singing backup on a few tracks. The two began performing as a duo on the folk club circuit shortly thereafter. The duo's first release was a homemade tape sold at gigs, later released as Home and Away. It was followed by their first formal album, Mischief, in 1988, and by a Change in the Weather in 1990. Love Is a Strange Hotel, released later the same year, was an album of cover versions of Gregson and Collister's favorite songs.
By 1992, the stress of constant touring and working together without substantial success finally took its toll on them. The two decided to go their separate ways after one parting shot, The Last Word, and one final tour. They both continued on as solo acts. Clive Gregson eventually relocated to Nashville and released the live "official bootleg" Carousel of Noise on his own label in 1994, People & Places in 1995, and I Love This Town in 1996 for Compass Records, in addition to various production work and side collaborations with Boo Hewerdine. In 1998, after a brief stint in the group Plainsong, Gregson returned with Happy Hour. Christine Collister continued to play the folk circuit, releasing a live album, Live, in 1995 and a new studio album, Blue Aconite, in 1997, followed by Dark Gift of Time in 1998, An Equal Love in 2002, and Into the Light in 2003. During the first decade of the new millennium Gregson released Comfort and Joy (2002) and Long Story Short (2004). ~ Chris Woodstra & William Ruhlmann