Any Trouble's 1980 debut was a wonderful slice of new wave flavored pub/pop/rock, which despite a fair amount of critical buzz, never really delivered on its commercial promise. With its second release, 1981's Wheels in Motion, produced by Mike Howlett (A Flock of Seagulls, Berlin), the band took a slightly more sophisticated, studio approach with singer/songwriter Clive Gregson's songs, veering away from the breakneck, live energy of Where Are All the Nice Girls?, which for the most part simply captured their feverish stage act in a studio setting. Still, whatever spark Wheels in Motion may lack is negligible thanks to the caliber of the material here. A handful of first-rate Gregson originals kick-start the proceedings, including the cautionary, albeit hopeful opener, "Trouble With Love," the irresistible power pop of "Open Fire" and the infectious rocker, "As Lovers Do." Several cuts in, the deliberate "Eastern Promise" is nearly as good, while "Power Cut" ranks just a rung below. Elsewhere, Richard Thompson's "Dimming of the Day," the only non-Gregson original, is given a slick, but affecting treatment. Moments of heavy-handed cynicism, as on the otherwise terrific, "Walking in Chains," as well as a couple of lackluster tracks drag things down to some extent, but still Wheels in Motion's highlights rank with the best work of Clive Gregson's career, both with and without Any Trouble. -AMG
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