Trouble were a doom band that were falsely accused of being a Christian metal band. In their early years Trouble often labeled themselves White Metal. While their lyrics were sometimes based on the Bible, or religious ideals, many times they were just spiritual psycho-babble that were based more on their heavy drug use than anything else. I must say though that it was cool to hear a band give praise to God rather than to Satan as was more common, and accepted, in the 80's metal scene. Bruce Franklin, who is one of Trouble's founders also recorded an album with Doug Pinnick of King's X called Supershine.
Trouble - Psalm 9 (Metal Blade) 1984
1. "The Tempter"
Back in the early 80's we were buying up all the Metal Blade "Metal Massacre" compilations to find out about the new metal bands that were up and coming. At the time we didn't have MP3s, internet and such to learn about new releases and bands. On Metal Massacre IV there was this wicked sounding doom song titled "The Last Judgement" by Trouble. At the time we didn't really label it doom, it was just metal. Whatever you want to label it, we were all anxious for the band's debut to be released. In 1984 Metal Blade released "Trouble" on white vinyl. I still have my white vinyl copy I bought when this first came out. There were only 2000 copies of the white vinyl debut ever pressed. Eventually Trouble's self titled debut became known as "Psalm 9" because of the Bible reference on the back. Subsequent re-releases on CD would even use the Psalm 9 title on the cover and spine, although the original release had no such references.
I remember this album caused a bit of a commotion when it first came out because of the song "Bastards Will Pay" in which Trouble uses the "f" word. I am not sure why this is so shocking as Trouble never claimed to be a "Christian" band. As I recall, Metal Blade were billing Trouble as "White Metal" at the time. I think Trouble's lyrics were more a response to all the "Satan" lyrics prevalent in heavy metal in the 80's than anything else.
Most people say "Psalm 9" is the best Trouble album and I would not necessarily disagree. The music here was retro 1970's heavy metal before there was such a thing. Slow, doomy, dirges along with Eric Wagner's unique vocals mixed to created something quite different from the metal pack in the early 80's. "The Tempter" as to be one of the greatest metal songs ever written. However, there really isn't a song on this album that isn't essential. Even the cover of Cream's "Tales of Brave Ulysses" just seems to be a vital part of the whole.
On a side note, Ted Kirkpatrick from Tourniquet played with Trouble for a short spell and did a fine live rendition of "The Tempter" on the Intense Live Series and on the Metal Blade version of "Pathogenic Occular Dissonance.".
Trouble - The Skull (Combat/Metal Blade) 1985
1."Pray for the Dead"
I remember people thought this album was disappointing when it was first release. I was never sure why as it is a great disc with loads of long slow dirges. I mean, it's classic Trouble. The epic "The Wish" alone is worth the price of this album. The title track is manic. The opening track is ferocious. "The Skull" shall forever remain the lost, underrated album in the Trouble discography.
Trouble - Psalm 9/The Skull (Metal Blade) 1984/1985
I searched for a long time for a used copy of the first Trouble and finally ended up getting this cool European import re-issue with both albums on one disc. This two-on-one release is missing one song from each album (the Cream-cover of "Tales of brave Ulysses" from Psalm 9 and "Truth is What Is" from The Skull), thus the need for me to keep my original CD version of "The Skull" and my original white-vinyl copy of what is now known as "Psalm 9." FYI, there were only 2000 copies of the white vinyl debut ever pressed.
Trouble - Run to the Light (Metal Blade) 1987
1."The Misery Shows"
With Trouble's third album for Metal Blade Records, a transition was beginning to taking place from the doom band they were hailed as to a more bluesy, retro-rock/metal band, although not to the extent of the bands next album. Actually "Run to the Light" still emulates the doomy sludge of "The Skull" and "Psalm 9" with a slightly brighter sound, thanks in part to a new producer, the addition of keyboards and a few more upbeat tracks. "The Misery Shows", for example, starts out with an eerie keyboard introduction before breaking into a fast, galloping guitar riff. This has always been one of my favorite Trouble tracks, along with the title track. "Misery Shows" almost has a mid-pace thrash feel. However, the majority of the material here is more like what you would expect from Trouble; metallic dirges drenched in Bruce Franklin & Rick Wartell's Sabbath-inspired guitar riffs. Wagner's raspy vocals are certainly an acquired taste for many, but I've always enjoyed unique vocals in metal. It is this combination of riffs and Wagner's vocals that make Trouble so compelling. As might be expected from a doom band, the lyrics explored the pains and sorrows of misguided, depressed humanity. However, unlike many bands in the 80's metal scene, Trouble offered hope in their lyrics, based mostly on Christian ideals. Christian metal fans at the time, who were clamoring for good metal with decent lyrics, hailed this album despite the fact that some reviews for "Run to the Light" were negative. Many reviewers found the songs to be unmemorable, most pointing back to "Psalm 9" as the band's best. Despite these reviews, I always thought "Run to the Light" was an excellent album on par with their debut, and certainly a step up from the "The Skull". Years later and I still hold this CD in very high esteem.
Trouble has a new label, better production and a new groovier sound, still borrowing heavily from Black Sabbath, but less doomy. The Christian based lyrics are all but gone with the possible exception of "Heavens on My Mind." One of my favorite Trouble releases. I wore the grooves off the record before replacing it with the CD.
Guitarist, co-founding member Bruce Franklin recorded an industrial metal side project around this same time called Generation.
Trouble - Manic Frustration (Def America) 1992
1. "Come Touch the
"Manic Frustration" features thick, heavy guitar riffs and retro, psychedelic, blues based, groove rock mixed with Sabbath-like heavy metal. Weird stuff? Absolutely. Too many drugs I suppose, but I still love it. I seem to be a loner on this one, as everyone I know hates it. I can't quite figure out why. Each and every song has one of those infectious riffs, catchy choruses, and an incredible wall-of-sound production by Rick Rubin. If the Beatles had played heavy metal during their "Sgt. Peppers" daze, this might have been what it sounded like.
Trouble - One For the Road (CDR)
1. "Going Home"
Outstanding bootleg CDR that contains the five tracks off the extremely rare "One For the Road" CD, as well as several cover songs and rarities. "One For the Road" was originally sold by the band while they were on tour some years ago. The five new tracks are all as good as anything on the band's last three albums, which says alot as I think those albums were spectacular. Track six, "The Last Judgement," is off of the Metal Massacre 4 CD. The last track, "Shinin' One" is a Grand Funk Railroad song as covered by Supershine, a band that featured Trouble's Bruce Frankin and Jeff Olson. The sound quality on this bootleg is pretty good since most of it is studio tracks, however I think the source for all these tracks may originally have been MP3. However, the only track that suffers heavily is the live version of Black Sabbath's "Children of the Grave" which is probably a result of the original recording and not of the source files. The other covers are, "Tales of Brave Ulysses" originally by Cream, "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Come Together" both Beatles covers, and "Porpoise Song" a Carol King cover.
Trouble - Plastic Green Head (Century Media) 1995
"Plastic Green Head" sports more psychedelic blues. YAWN! Silly cover of the Monkees "Porpoise Song" but a decent cover the Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows." (Phil Collins did a cover of this one as well.) The title has a dual reference to drugs and war. There is a large color picture of a marijuana field on the inside of this disc. I actually bought this as a new release and took it back to the store that day I bought it because the music wasn't what I had hoped for and the stupid drug references pissed me off. A few years later I bought this copy from Century Media for $2.00 to complete the collection. "Til the End of Time" is a bonus track on the U.S. edition! It's about time We get the bonus tracks on something. Trouble broke up soon after this release but as of late 2002 are rumored to be reunited.
Trouble also recorded "The Last Judgement" for Metal Massacre IV.
Trouble - Demos & Rarities 1980 - 95 (White Stallion) 2005
1. "Dyin' Love"
This is a collection of demos and rarities for hardcore Trouble fans only. This is not one of those discs anyone is going to spend a whole lot of time listening to due to the very uneven production throughout. The first three songs come from the first Trouble demo. These songs are very roughly recorded. As well, the sound drops out in several places and there are parts where you can hear the source tape has been chewed up by a tape deck. (Never did like cassettes!) The songs from the limited edition independent CD "For the Road" are spectacular, as is the bonus track from Plastic Green Head ("Till the End of Time"). These songs alone make the CD worth purchasing. It was also cool that those who compiled this collection included the songs from the various Metal Blade compilations. I remember hearing "The Last Judgement" on Metal Massacre IV and being blown away in 1983. I also quite enjoyed the bands heavy cover of The Beatles "Come Together". Of all the material presented here, I think this was the only song I had never heard before getting this CD in the mail. Overall, "Demos & Rarities" is an interesting collection for fans. It offers a history lesson of the band and compiles a lot of rare material onto one CD. There are sufficient liner notes about each song as well. I am not sure if this was an officially sanctioned CD or if it was a bootleg release. It was limited to only 500 copies and went out of print as quickly as it was released.
Trouble - Simple Mind Condition (Escapi Records) 2007
1. "Goin' Home"
I honestly never thought that Trouble would release another album after "Plastic Green Head". However, twelve years later and "Simple Mind Condition" is released. As if no time at all had passed since that release, Trouble release another sludgy, stoner rock album that sounds as if it could have been released in 1974, rather than 2007. They basically combine their later stoner rock sound of "Manic Frustration"and "Plastic Green Head" with a 1970's hard rock approach. A few of the riffs are even reminiscent of some 70's classics. "Trouble Maker" in particular has a Zeppelin vibe to the main guitar riff. As well, "Mindbender" reminds me of Nazareth, with a riff similar to "Hair of the Dog". Bruce Franklin and Rick Wartell's signature guitar tone is front and center, although the overall mix isn't quite the wall of sound that "Manic Frustration" or "Trouble" was. Had their been a bit more bottom end in the overall mix, this would have been a much heavier release. As it stands, the overall sound is mid-rangy, although not terrible either. Listening to the first few songs for the first time, I was not hearing Eric Wagner's classic voice. He seems a bit more restrained here, not going to the higher registers he uses in the past. However, upon further listens, his signature, charismatic voice becomes more apparent. The opener track, "Going Home" was originally released on the band's independently released disc "One for the Road". The original version seems a bit heavier than the version presented here. This is probably due to the production more than anything else. "Pictures of Life" and "It I Only Had A Reason" are some standout cuts from this album. In particular "If I Only Had a Reason" is a killer song with a great groove. Album closer "The Beginnings of Sorrows" is a mournful, doomy song in typical Trouble fashion. The heavy guitars mixed with the simple piano passages are quite intriguing. Frankly, however, I thought this song could have been expanded a bit and become a more epic piece. Being a child of the 70's myself, I guess I can hear the potential for a great guitar jam here. As it stands, the four minutes goes by rather quickly and it's over too soon. "Ride the Sky" is a Luciferís Friend cover. Frankly I am unfamiliar with this band, so I can't really say how this holds up to the original. What I can say is that the song does not seem out of place on this album as a whole. Overall, I can't say that Trouble have topped their previous catalog, but they have released an enjoyable album.
I must also add that I've
read numerous bad reviews of this CD, many claiming that "this album isn't
as good as 'Psalm 9' and 'The Skull'." or