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Articles Home » 1982 Articles » REO Speedwagon - 1982 Good Trouble
REO Speedwagon - 1982 Good Trouble

ARTIST: REO Speedwagon
ALBUM: Good Trouble
SERIAL: FE 38100
YEAR: 1982
CD REISSUE: 1988, Epic, EK 38100 * 2013, Rock Candy Records, CANDY208


LINEUP: Kevin Cronin - vocals, piano, acoustic guitars * Gary Richrath - electric guitars * Neal Doughty - organ, synthesizer, piano * Alan Gratzer - drums, tambourine * Bruce Hall - bass, vocals

Guests: Tom Kelly, Richard Page - backing vocals * Steve Forman - percussion

TRACK LISTING: 01 Keep The Fire Burnin' * 02 Sweet Time * 03 Girl With Heart Of Gold * 04 Every Now And Then * 05 I'll Follow You * 06 The Key * 07 Back In My Heart Again * 08 Let's Be-Bop * 09 Stillness Of The Night * 10 Good Trouble


A long long time ago, when I was a lot younger, me and the wife (well the girlfriend at the time) used to go to North Wales a number of times during the summer, and much preparation was taken by me, on the necessary compilation cassette tapes I would put together, to listen to while taking the relevantly long journey. So did REO Speedwagon ever appear on these?, well yes they did, the likes of 'Don't Let Him Go', 'Keep On Loving You' and 'Follow My Heart', notice anything?, they all appeared on the boys greatest moment 'Hi Infidelity' from 1980, and when I came to look at 'Good Trouble' to add a track, nothing really warranted me to press the red record button and subsequently what was left off the black ribbon was used elsewhere. Why was this? Maybe because I had a habit of dropping the needle of parts of a song, and if didn't click it was left off, anyway probably felt I already had enough representation of the group. One last factor was that space was always a premium especially as the old tape recorder in the Ford Cortina could only play c60 (that's a total of 60 minutes), as c90 would just start squeaking at the end.. remember that! So you can say that this album really didn't get a fair crack of the whip.

However recently I have become reacquainted with this and not because of the recent re-issue on Rock Candy, I'm playing my vinyl copy, and while my review probably won't be to the standard of the pending Rock Candy review in that monthly magazine it will be at least be a shade more critical when it needs to be. Of course this followed 'Hi Infidelity' and they found themselves in the same inevitable task as fellow countrymen Journey would have 6 months later in trying to match their most celebrated success with a follow up. Journey was doing the same with 'Frontiers', so likewise 'Good Trouble' was going to be on a hiding to nothing. Was the endless touring going to take an effect? Less time to put some ideas down, this may have been the case but nevertheless this is still a very strong album, although the cover art is pretty awful. Let's take some time to survey the carnage, my eyes wander and find a fair pair of bottles of bleach, yes there in the left hand corner, just above the poor use of font for the album title. Could you imagine wearing that on a t-shirt?

The Songs
REO are soon blasting a rich source of AOR goodness with 'Keep The Fire Burnin', a classic track of AOR completeness, and it has it all. This is followed with the more anthem possessed 'Sweet Time', the usual quiet intro with just a spotlight on old Kev, before the lights shine bright and the rest of the band come in. You can see what they were doing; trying to replicate the chart success of 'Keep On Loving You' or maybe 'Take It On The Run', but this time they would have only probably found its watermark in the late thirties of the chart. Kevin is joined on the vocal front with Bruce Hall for 'Girl With The Heart Of Gold', and this is another part of the AOR master plan. Kevin win hands down on the vocal front, although this is purely because he has the divine pre chorus although Bruce is a more than a solid performer. Whether they are trying to reproduce the early days of Perry and Rolie in dividing up the vocals, I don't know but it works. Of course after this immense tune they take a couple of stumbles down the ladder with 'Every Now And Then'. This is quite pedestrian; I'm really not keen on the piano and probably is a look over their shoulder to an earlier time in their career, when they couldn't make up their collective minds if Kevin was the main man or not. Want a comparison in terms how it fits on this album; well take it as their 'Back Talk' moment. Slightly more rewarding is 'I'll Follow You', and while I am a bit at odds with this storytelling lark that is displayed in the verses it's the chorus that really hits you like caffeine or an alcohol shot if you prefer. At this moment the track expands into the wide prairies and has a Bruce Springsteen free for all, (not a Ted Nugent one, I might add), so you are left with the resounding memory of the piano keys flying all over a place and then carved up by the guitar solo.

'The Key' is a fine track; actually make that great, can Kevin's voice get any higher? Blended guitar hooks, a forceful performance, and really doesn't have any reference to the locked hotel room they appear to be waiting outside off on the back cover. I really shouldn't moan about 'Back In My Heart Again', but I will, sure I understand REO have always mixed it up and should be applauded. But it's my mind-set, I wanted the encore to the likes of 'The Key', but this has that country feel which has always been a part of the Speedwagon, but that's not in terms of Dolly Parton. Bruce again is busting out and takes over the main vocal on 'Let's Be-Bop', and the somewhat dodgy title fortunately hasn't affected the tune, quite a spunky number, which seems to have a strange mix of Huey Lewis and Poison. The steely melodic rock returns on 'Stillness Of The Night', and this is another AOR classic, powerful, robust and no way does it follow a mundane AOR template. The most striking point is the inclusion of keyboards rather than piano on this and it works wonderfully, this is the kind of stuff that should had been included on those numerous ballad led cheap compilations that REO have always been on the end of (blame the record label.. Ed). Just get this album for this track. You are left with the title track and they still haven't got any trouble with the quality inspectors, actually Richrath just keeps reeling off those guitar solos, Mr Schon had some real competition at the time, that's for sure, but I wonder did Gary Richrath ever received the true guitar hero recognition he deserved?

In Summary
What I have noticed with the article is that I have hardly made reference to other groups, yes a sprinkling of names but the main one that keeps getting repeating is Journey, importantly though not as a song comparison. I am trying to get the point over that REO are REO, although maybe always seen as the Megadeth to Metallica, or the Pearl Jam to the Nirvana? Especially when comparing to the success of Journey, so in some respect they always seen to get the poor deal and don't always get the acknowledgement they should. I have that tendency also, but after reading a number of interviews lately, Kevin comes over as a real nice bloke, able to talk about differences with Gary Richrath but in a reconciliation way and really while not walking the straightest of AOR lines, they should be mentioned in the same breath of Foreigner, Survivor and the Journey boys. Coming back to view the REO home front, in particular this album, while there may have been a gap between this in terms of sales with 'Hi Infidelity', no way is the gap in quality anyway near as big, in fact I still unsure which one I favour?

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#1 | AOR Lee on December 27 2013 04:40:26
One of my top three albums by REO, so easy to overlook it. The album's many merits are well discussed in the review, about time I light the fire and get moving on that Wheels Are Turning review I've started about 6 times computer work
#2 | jeffrey343 on December 27 2013 05:57:09
I'm not sure why I didn't care too much for this when I got it in 1982. I revisited it several years ago thanks to online streaming, and it is now safely back in my collection. "Stillness Of The Night" did make it onto a few mix tapes back in the day. It is indeed a classic and should be held in the same regard as their mega-hits.
#3 | Eric on December 27 2013 22:47:14
Never fond of this record, found it extremely weak in comparison to the previous 3 albums.
#4 | gdazegod on December 27 2013 22:51:34
'Nine Lives' has been and always take 1st place among REO's output. To be fair, I haven't actually listened to this at all, apart from the first track, so will probably go back and give it a listen, probably in the car where I will be trapped with no way out! haha!
#5 | super80boy on May 26 2014 16:14:13
Good Trouble propels out of the gate with three very substantial songs right in succession and then a couple mediocre songs finish Side One. Side Two's lead off 'The Key' is an impassioned rocker with big vocal treatments, an excellent start. The album falters a bit with the filler track 'Back In My Heart Again', but picks itself back up for a strong finish. Further research states that the band don't play any of these songs on tour with the exception of the mega single 'Keep The Fire Burnin'. I find that very hard to believe, I mean this album was tied with Wheels Are Turnin in record sales. Okay, everyone knows this wasn't to the quality level of its predecessor; however it did manage to crank out five charting singles, all really satisfying songs. The vinyl comes with a nice cardboard insert complete with individual band pictures on one side and lyrics on the other.
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