As a relatively longtime power pop enthusiast, I was less than pleased recently when I realized - upon hearing this absolutely indispensable guitar rock gem of the early new wave era - that I had been so long unaware of the fine British pub rock band that conceived and recorded it. Led by cerebral, slightly nerdy frontman Clive Gregson, this group produced some genuinely superior music at a time when it probably seemed to some music observers that such bands were a dime (or even a nickel) a dozen. However, one listen to the exemplary "Girls Are Always Right" - as well as the entire 1980 LP (Where Are All the Nice Girls) on which it appears - confirms instantly the melodic singularity and compelling lovelorn perspective of Gregson's nimble compositions. For me, this is one of those songs whose specifications I needed immediately to write down or save in a text file in order to procure right away when time or opportunity allowed. The joy through pain and self-analysis espoused on this tune certainly invites similarities to the best contemporary work of Elvis Costello or Graham Parker, but Any Trouble is far from just another imitator of the skinny tie singer-songwriter tradition.
Although the band didn't make it through the first half of the '80s, Gregson has remained a steady guitar pop presence over the years as both a solo artist and collaborator with such accomplished musicians as Richard Thompson and singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine. All the while, Any Trouble has remained on the periphery of early college rock discussions - particularly in the U.S. - and that's clearly a significant oversight. As a single, this song boasts everything needed to make a mellow power pop classic: emotive, soulful lead vocals, chiming guitars and inexhaustible hooks. Even if you - just as I - have had trouble getting this band onto your active playlists, you won't find it the least bit difficult to return to the well once you've tasted the aural refreshment.
- Sample or download "Girls Are Always Right" here.
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Album Cover Image Courtesy of Stiff Records