Squeeze

TrackAlbum
Cool For CatsCool For Cats
Up The JunctionCool For Cats
Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)Argybargy
TemptedEast Side Story
Labelled With LoveEast Side Story
Black Coffee In BedSweets From A Stranger
HourglassBabylon And On
If It's LoveFrank
Some Fantastic PlaceSome Fantastic Place
This SummerRidiculous

Squeeze photo 1

Squeeze 1978 (l-r): Chris Difford, Glenn Tilbrook, Jools Holland,
Harry Kakoulli, Gilson Lavis

 

 

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Squeeze playlist

 

 

Contributor: Jonathan Westwood

More singles were sold in the United Kingdom in 1979 than in any other year. For this pop music-obsessed seven- turning eight-year-old, the last year of the Seventies provided the best possible entry point into the crevices and vagaries of the UK singles chart.

Rarely have one year’s charts spanned such musical diversity. The year’s 18 number one singles alone took in disco (Y.M.C.A., Heart Of Glass, Tragedy, I Will Survive), synth pop (the equally thrilling and terrifying Are ‘Friends’ Electric), power pop (Sunday Girl), the cod-reggae of The Police, new wave (Video Killed The Radio Star), a genre-defying piano and strings epic about one of the first school shootings (I Don’t Like Mondays), syrupy balladry (Bright Eyes), anodyne MOR featuring backing singers chorusing “Sheep!” (We Don’t Talk Anymore), and whatever the hell Lena Martell’s One Day At A Time was.

But, as ever, most of the year’s real gems never made the number one slot. Two of the 14 songs to peak at number two in 1979 rank among the decade’s very best singles: Cool For Cats and Up The Junction by Squeeze, both delicious three-minute vignettes of acutely observed English life that anointed the band’s lyricist Chris Difford as the heir to Lennon, McCartney and Ray Davies. (Above all others Squeeze, The Kinks and The Beatles taught me that pop music lyrics could be more than simple I love you’s.) With composer, frontman and fellow guitarist Glenn Tilbrook, Difford would go on to build one of the most satisfying and diverse singles catalogues in British pop history.

 

Squeeze’s imperial phase stretched from their early 1978 chart debut with Take Me, I’m Yours to late 1982’s Annie Get Your Gun. Each of the band’s first 13 UK hits during that run represent a good starting point to explore their output, and the first six of my chronological top ten are culled from that purple period. (While I love several of Squeeze’s albums – particularly their later output – it felt most appropriate to restrict this Toppermost top ten to their singles.)

1980’s Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) remains pop’s greatest invocation of the slightly sordid glamour of Britain’s holiday camps, and features a splendid Jools Holland piano solo.

While it only peaked at 41 in the UK, 1981’s Tempted – featuring fleeting band member Paul Carrack on lead vocals – represents Squeeze’s other great 7″ achievement. Even the patchy Temptations homage in the second verse, with co-producer Elvis Costello taking the bass lines, comes off as more charmingly half-arsed than laboured.

 

The disturbingly authentic country song Labelled With Love, like Tempted, features on the band’s fourth and best album, East Side Story. The blue-eyed soul and key changes of 1982’s Black Coffee In Bed call to mind some of Motown’s highlights from two decades previously.

Hourglass’s rat-a-tat delivery gave Squeeze their biggest chart success for six years in 1987, reaching 16 in the UK and providing their biggest American hit (#15 on the Billboard Hot 100). 1989’s If It’s Love marked a return to power pop and features some of Difford’s finest lines: “If it’s love then it feels like I’ve won the pools.”

 

1993’s beautifully wistful but joyous Some Fantastic Place wears Squeeze’s heart on their sleeve. The song pays an emotionally resonant tribute to Maxine Barker, who introduced Difford and Tilbrook in 1973 and passed away in 1992. When setting music to Difford’s ode to their friend, Tilbrook worked into the song the guitar solo from the first song the pair wrote in 1973. Understandably, the pair say it’s their favourite Squeeze song. Depending on my mood, it’s mine, too. (Though Up The Junction usually takes that honour.)

The final slot goes to This Summer, a blissed-out lyrical companion piece to If It’s Love, which only made the mid-30s both on its original release in 1995 and in remixed form a year later. Like Paul Weller’s singles from Stanley Road, it was entirely appropriate that Squeeze claimed a small piece of Britpop territory as their own.

“This summer … I’m so made up I feel I could take off and fly.” Grab hold of Squeeze’s coattails and soar.

 

 

 

Squeeze photo 2

 

Squeeze official website

Chris Difford official website

Glenn Tilbrook official website

Jools Holland official website

Packet of Three: Squeeze, Difford & Tilbrook songbooks

List of Squeeze band members

Glenn Tilbrook: One For The Road movie

Squeeze biography (AllMusic)

Jonathan Westwood is old enough to know better. He presents shows on Bedford Radio from 7pm on Tuesday evenings.

TopperPost #1,006

2 Comments

  1. Glenn Smith
    Jan 27, 2022

    Alright, I have to confess I’m a bit obsessed with East Side Story so I’ll just say upfront that I’d have argued for Is That Love and and Someone Else’s Heart. And another ripper was Take Me I’m Yours, but enough of that. This is a cracking list Jonathan, superb choices all especially the later tunes like Hourglass. Good call on Tempted too, amazing how that song has crept along, sneaking into the playlist zeitgeist, you always hear it on radio etc. It’s worth going back to Paul Carrack’s superb vocal on Ace’s 70’s hit How Long, you can see why EC handed him the vocal duties on Tempted.
    I reckon the other point to be made is the way Difford’s lyrics work with Tilbrooks melodies, they are the Gilbert and Sullivan of rock and roll. He’s a story teller Difford, takes you to mundane places and makes them interesting, like what Billy Joel said about Jimmy Webb, he writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I love how Junction unfolds and then finishes with the title just like Virginia Plain, its the ultimate kitchen sink pop song.
    Great Toppermost Jonathan.

  2. Sean Farrell
    Feb 25, 2022

    Great list, especially the later ones. I prefer Another Nail in My Heart to Pulling Mussels and there are so many corkers on East Side Story that it could have made up half the list – Woman’s World, Is That Love, Someone Else’s Heart …

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