The Very Best of Big Trouble
By Al Kaufman
Back in the early ’90s, when hair was big and spandex was the attire of choice, four guys from Atlanta got together to start a band. Like most young kids at that time, they wanted to sound like Van Halen, Motley Crue, or something in-between. Big Trouble came pretty close. Songs like “No Stopping Now” offer up the attitude and humor that used to make people believe David Lee Roth was a talented man. Plus Mike Wilkes seemed pretty well acquainted with his wah-wah bar. Other stuff, such as “Now You See Me,” had more of a straight ahead, Ratt sound. And, of course, there had to be “Accidental Angel,” the obligatory ballad that would show off their sensitive side and make the girls want to sleep with them.
Big Trouble opened for the likes of, and shared gel and cosmetics with, Skid Row and Jackyl before they went their separate ways. Three of the four members, James Schmitt, Mike Wilkes, and Dan Call, went on with a couple of other guys to form The Villains (reviewed here), a southern country rock band that was recently signed by Warner Brothers. On the Big Trouble compilation the trio reunites with drummer Chuck Strawhand to record “Popcorn Whiskey, and Beer.” The song has more twang than power chords and, like many Villains songs, fondly reminisces about the good old days, yet still contains a hint of relief that 1) they made it through and 2) they don’t have to act that way anymore. Lyrically, the song is as trite as the title suggests, but the mood comes across.
Very Best goes on to include some live recordings, with the boys celebrating their testosterone, and ultimately covering Van Halen’s “Somebody Get Me a Doctor.” In listening to The Villains today, this is where they came from. It’s like looking back at early stand-up photos of Jon Stewart, or Mouseketeer shots of Britney Spears. Bassist Dan Call, whose DCM Records produced the release, said, “I didn’t want to go the rest of my life acting like the band never happened simply because of the genre we were in. Instead, I chose to celebrate it.” That’s what it feels like. So pop in a DVD of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, grab a few beers, and listen to some Big Trouble. Feel those horrible memories of high school yesteryear come flooding back.