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Clive Gregson & Christine Collister

+ {Clive Gregson} + {Christine Collister}

Often compared to folk’s former celebrity duo RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON, CLIVE GREGSON & CHRISTINE COLLISTER were prominent for a timespan that covered several years – with mixed results.
However, Clive’s roots were firmly planted in power-pop/pub-rock outfit ANY TROUBLE (from 1976 to 1984), a quartet reaching out to post-new wave audiences into the likes of labelmate star attraction ELVIS COSTELLO. Underachievers by the era’s standards, the upbeat group managed to slip under the chart radar for four studio LPs, two for Stiff Records: `Where Are All The Nice Girls?’ (1980) and `Wheels In Motion’ (1981) and a couple for EMI America: `Touch And Go’ (1983) and `Wrong End Of The Race’ (1984); ironically, album two revamped RICHARD THOMPSON’s `Dimming Of The Day’.
GREGSON (born 4 January 1955, Ashton-under-Lyne, Tameside, Manchester) had dipped his big proverbial toe into the world of folk music via his studio work with promising act TICKAWINDA, but nothing was cast in stone until 1985’s solo debut, STRANGE PERSUASIONS {*6}. Not too far removed from the sound of his mentor/boss THOMPSON (or a polished RALPH McTELL backed by SQUEEZE), the record balanced on a precipice of singer-songwriter folk and FM-friendly AOR, examples being `Home Is Where The Heart Is’ (a rare single) and `Jewel In Your Crown’; subsequent production work for himself included OYSTERBAND, KEITH HANCOCK and Irish-Canadian STEPHEN FEARING.
Subsequently catching a performance of Christine at a local bar in Manchester (she’d previously sang and strummed in Italy), Clive was quick to see the potential of the young troubadour, who quickly joined him as a session backer to RICHARD THOMPSON. As CLIVE GREGSON & CHRISTINE COLLISTER (born 28 December 1961, Douglas, Isle Of Man), the duo first surfaced on live set HOME AND AWAY (1986) {*7}, a shoestring/budget cassette-only release initially sold at gigs containing a handful of ANY TROUBLE re-treads alongside covers of MERLE HAGGARD’s `Mama Tried’, CARL PERKINS’ `Matchbox’, Barrett-Strong’s `I Heard It Through The Grapevine’, LARRY WILLIAMS’ `Slow Down’, Eric Kaz’s `I’m Blowin’ Away’ and pal HANCOCK’s `Chase The Dragon’. That same year, the sensuous and unmistakeable voice of COLLISTER was heard on the theme tune (`Warm Love Gone Cold’) of TV drama series `The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil’.
Probably regarded as their first official debut, although the previous set had been served up on Cooking Vinyl (Flying Fish in America), MISCHIEF (1987) {*6} kicked off with the bluesy `I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog’ (another rare 45), while their blend of Brit-folk-pop was squarely stuck in the centre between FLEETWOOD MAC harmonies and Delta blues; example `Everybody Cheats On You’ and `This Tender Trap’.
A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER (1989) {*7} – which reinterpreted the McCoy-Singleton nugget `Tryin’ To Get To You’ – plus covers set LOVE IS A STRANGE HOTEL (1990) {*4}, carried the couple into a new decade, although the latter departure was a tad self-indulgent re-treading material from the unlikeliest of sources (several non-folk artists):- including 10CC (`The Things We Do For Love’), DEL AMITRI (`Move Away Jimmy Blue’), AZTEC CAMERA (`How Men Are’), BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (`One Step Up’), JACKSON BROWNE (`For A Dancer’), HANK WILLIAMS (`Lonesome Whistle’), JONI MITCHELL (`Same Situation’), PAUL CARRACK (`Always Better With You’), MERLE HAGGARD (`Today I Started Loving You Again’), STEPHEN FEARING (`The Most Beguiling Eyes’) and the title track from BOO HEWERDINE & DARDEN SMITH.
With their relationship coming to an abrupt but dignified end, THE LAST WORD (1992) {*7}, was similar in many respects to parting farewell album a decade earlier by the THOMPSONs, `Shoot Out The Lights’. The aforementioned ex-BIBLE songsmith BOO HEWERDINE was roped in for three songs (a cool blend of all things roots), although real heartache and emotion shines through on `This Broken Home’, `I Don’t Want To Lose You’ and the countrified `Close Down This Bar’; COLLISTER duly performed alongside The Jailbirds, a part-time outfit comprising BARB JUNGR and Heather Joyce.
Taking time to brush themselves down, both finally emerged as full-fledged solo artists in the mid-90s, CG with a couple of fair-to-middling albums, PEOPLE & PLACES (1995) {*4} and I LOVE THIS TOWN (1996) {*6}, CC with two studio sets of her own (for Fledg’ling Records), BLUE ACONITE (1997) {*5} and THE DARK GIFT OF TIME (1998) {*7}; choice covers comprised `How Far To The Horizon?’ (JESSE WINCHESTER), `Private Storm’ (Sam Phillips), `Can’t Win’ (RICHARD THOMPSON), `Paper Wings’ (GILLIAN WELCH & DAVE RAWLINGS), `Heart Like A Wheel’ (ANNA McGARRIGLE), `Midnight Feast’ (LAL WATERSON & OLIVER KNIGHT), `Blue Moon On The Rise’ (JULIE MATTHEWS & CHRIS WHILE), `Harvest For The World’ (The ISLEY BROTHERS), `Broken Bicycle’ + `Dirt In The Ground’ (TOM WAITS), `The Whole Night Sky’ (BRUCE COCKBURN), `Deeper Well’ (EMMYLOU HARRIS), `I Want To Vanish’ (ELVIS COSTELLO), `Black Eyed Dog’ (NICK DRAKE), `God Bless The Child’ (BILLIE HOLIDAY), `Lowish Time’ (HELEN WATSON), `Free Will & Testament’ (ROBERT WYATT) and `Sad And Beautiful World’ (Colin Linden). Along with a healthy pick of some of the best modern-day Brit-folk females, supergroup DAPHNE’S FLIGHT (featuring HELEN WATSON, MELANIE HARROLD, JULIE MATTHEWS and CHRIS WHILE) completed a one-off CD in 1995.
From Demon to Fellside Records (and now based in Nashville), the reflective and brooding GREGSON delivered a series of decent albums via HAPPY HOUR (1999) {*6}, COMFORT AND JOY (2001) {*7} and LONG STORY SHORT (2004) {*7}; stop press: comeback sets BITTERSWEET (2011) {*7} and THIS IS NOW (2013) {*6} confirmed the singer-songwriter was back to his best. Added to that, his work in 3 BOXES with Andy Roberts and Mark Griffiths for 2014’s STRINGS ATTACHED {*6}, Clive has become prolific in his old age; he’s also re-formed ANY TROUBLE!COLLISTER, meanwhile, found her way on to the roster of stalwart folk imprint Topic, delivering a couple of partly self-penned/cover albums, AN EQUAL LOVE (2001) {*6} – interpreting SARAH McLACHLAN (`Full Of Grace’) to Henry Mancini (`Moon River’) – and INTO THE LIGHT (2002) {*5} – credited the aforementioned JUNGR on songs plus readings of U2’s `I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ (very ALISON MOYET), PAUL SIMON’s `Quiet’, RODDY FRAME’s `Hymn To Grace’ and KIT HAIN’s `Lost And Found’.
Of late, Christine has self-released a few solo CDs, while `Beat Goes On’ decided on documenting her LIVE (2008) {*6} set with bluesman Dave Kelly & The Travelling Gentlemen; a torch-folk record of sorts reprising SANDY DENNY’s `Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’, TOWNES VAN ZANDT’s `Pancho And Lefty’, JACKSON BROWNE’s `World In Motion’ and a few select Brill Building numbers.
© MC Strong 2011/GFD2 // rev-up MCS Aug2015

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