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Girls Are Always Right

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Album Review

Though originally cast off as a pale imitation of Elvis Costello, time has gracefully stripped Any Trouble of any generational signifiers. All that is left is smart, spry, melodic punk rock that (mostly) holds up fine without being propped up against any lazy comparisons. This owes largely to Clive Gregson's hiccuping vocal delivery and undeniable knack for melody. Girls Are Always Right, which gathers together the strongest material from the group's years with Stiff Records, boasts a flawless first half, with a second half that succeeds in fits and starts. Gregson is best when dishing out woebegone laments about the vagaries of love. It's no coincidence that the first lyric on the record is "I don't wanna be your lover," and when he sticks to this simple equation his songwriting shines. "Second Choice" bends a doo wop guitar line into a smart, Squeeze-y observation on love gone awry, and the title track bursts into a chorus that would do Joe Jackson proud. The offerings from the group's Live at the Venue find a band capable of summoning terrific energy and turning out performances that are vigorous and peerless. Like most of its contemporaries, slick production ransacked the simple beauty of Any Trouble's songs. Though it is difficult to argue with the merit of Gregson's songwriting, the selections on the record's second half are hampered by studio sheen, which ends up making them sound oddly dated. It's not that the band added to the arrangements — the later songs still consist of little beyond guitar, drums, bass, and Gregson's voice. It's just that the pristine treatment lands the songs uncomfortably close to the kind of territory mined by Billy Joel. Still, Girls Are Always Right collects enough of Any Trouble's finer moments to make it the ideal introduction to this overlooked pop combo. ~ J. Edward Keyes, Rovi


Formed: 1975 in Manchester, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '00s

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...
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Girls Are Always Right, Any Trouble
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