Squeeze is an English pop-rock band from London, formed in 1974 and active with multiple lineups in the decades since. Between 1978 and 1982, they released five albums on A&M Records. Their biggest hits include “Take Me I’m Yours,” “Cool for Cats,” “Up the Junction,” “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell),” “Tempted,” and “Hourglass.”
The songwriting team of guitarist–singers Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford briefly split the band to record as a duo. In 1985, a regrouped Squeeze released seven albums over the ensuing thirteen-year period.
Members: Glenn Tilbrook (guitar, vocals, keyboards, programming), Chris Difford (guitar, vocals, 1974-99, 2007-present), Jools Holland (keyboards, vocals, 1975-80, 1985-90), Harry Kakoulli (bass, vocals, 1975-79), Paul Gunn (drums, 1975-76), Gilson Lavis (drums, 1976-82, 1985-92), John Bentley (bass, vocals, 1979-82, 2007-15), Paul Carrack (keyboards, vocals, 1980-81, 1993-95), Don Snow (keyboards, vocals, 1981-82), Keith Wilkinson (bass, vocals, 1985-98), Andy Metcalfe (keyboards, horns, 1985-88), Matt Irving (keyboards, accordion, vocals, 1988-89)
Squeeze formed in Deptford, South London, in early 1974 around a nascent songwriting partnership between composer Glenn Tilbrook (b. Aug. 31, 1957) and lyricist Chris Difford (b. Nov. 4, 1954).
Keyboardist Jools Holland (b. Jan. 24, 1958) was the first long-serving member to join the pair, followed in early 1975 by drummer Gilson Lavis (b. June 27, 1951) and bassist Harry Kakoulli. Lavis served as a touring drummer for several high-profile American acts (Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dolly Parton). Kakoulli hailed from DIY folksters England’s Glory alongside future-Only Ones frontman Peter Perrett. They took their name from the 1973 Velvet Underground album Squeeze, an effort fronted by Doug Yule after Lou Reed‘s departure.
In September 1975, Squeeze signed with RCA, which dropped them five months later with no recordings to show for the liaison. They gigged heavily in south-east London over the next 18 months and got swept into the New Wave.
In late 1976, London-based American music mogul and Curved Air manager Miles Copeland signed Squeeze to his management agency British Talent Managers and earmarked two Difford–Tilbrook originals, “Take Me, I’m Yours” and “No Disco Kid No,” as the seventh BTM single (SBT 107) but the label collapsed before the scheduled release date (January 14, 1977). Copeland moved Squeeze to a new indie, Deptford Fun City, created for them and another neighborhood act, Alternative TV, led by Mark P., editor of the punk zine Sniffin’ Glue.
Packet of Three
In July 1977, Squeeze issued its vinyl debut Packet of Three on Miles Copeland’s Deptford Fun City label. It contains three songs: the mid-tempo hard-rocker “Cat On the Wall,” the uptempo neo-fifties rave-up “Night Ride,” and the punky barrel-house pummeller “Backtrack.”
A. “Cat On a Wall” (3:10)
B1. “Night Ride” (3:02)
B2. “Back Track” (2:21)
The first track, with its open-cadence power chords and windmill chorus, received considerable airplay on Radio Caroline. It also features on their 7/17/77 Peel session along with three songs that Squeeze developed that summer: “Sex Master,” “Model,” and “All Fed Up.”
In late 1977, Squeeze signed with A&M, which paired the band with Yule’s predecessor in the Velvet Underground, Welsh musician John Cale.
In March 1978, Squeeze’s album debut ran concurrent with the Deptford Fun City release Boogie Woogie ’78, the debut solo single by Jools Holland. It features three originals, one Tilbrook co-write (“Deptford Broadway Boogie”) and a cover of the Big Joe Turner chestnut “Boogie Woogie Country Girl.” Tilbrook co-produced and plays guitar on the EP, which features bassist Brent Cross and Squeeze drummer Gilson Lavis.
Squeeze released their self-titled debut album in March 1978 on A&M. It features eleven Difford–Tilbrook originals, all produced by Cale apart from the two songs marked as a-sides: “Take Me, I’m Yours” and “Bang Bang.”
Musically, Squeeze encompasses punk (“Sex Master,” “Get Smart”), hard rock (“First Thing Wrong”), psychedelic blues (“Hesitation (Rool Britannia)”), and organ-driven new wave pop (“Remember What?”). A sassy sixties harmony vibe pervades select cuts (“Model,” “Out of Control”). Side one contains “Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil,” a group-composed jazz-funk instrumental.
1. “Sex Master” (2:21)
2. “Bang Bang” (2:04)
3. “Strong in Reason” (4:14)
4. “Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil” (3:49)
5. “Out of Control” (4:44)
6. “Take Me I’m Yours” (2:51) Difford’s exotic lyrical imagery drew from stories of the Copeland family, which lived in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon during Miles’ youth.
7. “The Call” (5:17)
8. “Model” (2:59)
9. “Remember What” (2:51)
10. “First Thing Wrong” (3:43)
11. “Hesitation (Rool Britannia)” (3:45)
12. “Get Smart” (2:06)
Sessions took place in late 1977 at three studios (Morgan, Pathway, Surrey Sound) with Cale, who took a hands-on production role. Despite their stockpile of songs, he told them to write new material for the project. His initial ideal was to title the album Gay Guys and have them write songs about bodybuilders.
The engineer on Squeeze, Gregg Jackman, had earlier credits on titles by A Band Called “O”, Byzantium (Seasons Changing), Chris Squire (A Fish Out of Water), Greenslade, Bridget St. John, and Michael d’Albuquerque. He also engineered 1978 albums by The Jam (All Mod Cons) and Phil Manzanera. The Surrey Sound sessions were engineered John Wood, a veteran folk-rock soundman (Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, John Martyn) who worked on Cale’s recent Island titles and 1978 albums by Gong and Steve Hillage.
Squeeze sports a cover design by
“Take Me, I’m Yours” appeared in February as the advanced single. With its metronomic precision, galloping 2/4 drum pattern, octave-unison vocals, and oozing synths, the song climbed to No. 19 on the UK Singles Chart. Jools sings the b-side, the pub-punk “Night Nurse.”
B. “Night Nurse” (2:43)
In the “Take Me, I’m Yours” video, Squeeze perform on a dark soundstage, where Glenn sports pale pink high-waters and mismatched creepers and Gilson wears a striped suit and pink tie. Chris (tight black jeans) and Jools (leather jacket, cigar) both don shades. Tilbrook plays his prized first possession as a guitarist: a white 1959 Stratocaster that was later stolen.
“Take Me, I’m Yours” reached No. 19 on the UK Singles Chart. Squeeze mimed it on the April 6 and 20 broadcasts of the BBC music program Top of the Pops, where they aired amid spring hits by Andy Gibb (“Shadow Dancing”), Bee Gees (“Night Fever”), The Boomtown Rats (“She’s So Modern”), Bryan Ferry (“What Goes On”), Elton John (“Ego”), Genesis (“Follow You, Follow Me”), The Manhattan Transfer (“Walk In Love”), Raydio (“Jack and Jill”), and The Stylistics (“Wonder Woman”).
Squeeze mime on a multi-level studio stage on both TotP “Take Me, I’m Yours” appearances. In the first, Glenn sports a blue sweatshirt emblazoned with “Today Deptford, Tomorrow the World” while Harry (elevated) is shirtless with tight leather pants and suspenders. On the 4/20 appearance, Glenn pairs a red shirt with chartreuse pants against a luminous green-lit backdrop. Jools wears a leopard-print flatcap in both appearances. Squeeze also mimed “Take Me, I’m Yours” against a green-screen of multi-colored flashing lights on the Dutch music program TopPop.
B. “All Fed Up” (4:00)
For the North American market, A&M renamed the band and album UK Squeeze, possibly to avoid confusion with the American band Squeezer, which released the 1974 album Joy Jell Fantasies on the Los Angeles small-press Now.
“Take Me I’m Yours” and “Strong In Reason” appear on the 1978 A&M release No Wave, a label comp with cuts by Joe Jackson, The Police, The Stranglers, and Klark Kent (a pseudonym of Police drummer Stewart Copeland).
On November 10, 1978, Squeeze released “Goodby Girl,” an electro-pop melodrama backed with “Saints Alive.” Drummer Gilson Lavis conceived an unorthodox rhythm track for “Goodby Girl” composed of bottles, cans, and sundries, which carry the song until drums enter on the third verse.
A. “Goodby Girl” (3:05)
B. “Saints Alive” (2:29)
Squeeze made no proper video for “Goodby Girl” but a clip exists of the band rendered in rotoscope animation against the comic picture sleeve. Squeeze re-recorded the song for their second album and again for the US release of the single.
Squeeze recorded their second album during the 1978–79 winter season. Upon completion, Harry Kakoulli cleared out for bassist John Bentley, a backing player of Jet Records recording artist (and former Baker Gurvitz Army frontman) Snips. Kakoulli debuted as a solo artist with the 1980 Oval release Even When I’m Not, followed by multiple singles.
Cool for Cats
Squeeze released their second album, Cool for Cats, on April 4, 1979, on A&M. It features eleven Difford–Tilbrook originals co-produced by John Wood and Squeeze.
Stylistically, the songs range from uptempo new wave (“It’s So Dirty,” “Slightly Drunk”) to layered art pop (“It’s Not Cricket” “The Knack”). A disco vibe pervades synth-laden numbers like “Slap and Tickle” and “Cool for Cats.”
Lyrically, Cool for Cats tackles topics like self-gratification (“Touching Me Touching You”), C-list media gigs (“Revue”), and working class heartbreak (“Up the Junction”). Side two starts with “Hop, Skip & Jump,” a barroom-boogie tune by Difford and Holland.
Cool for Cats is the second of two Squeeze albums with Harry Kakoulli, who appears on the back-cover photo but left before the accompanying TV appearances and videos, which feature his replacement John Bentley.
1. “Slap and Tickle” (4:00)
2. “Revue” (2:30)
3. “Touching Me Touching You” (2:25)
4. “It’s Not Cricket” (2:35)
5. “It’s So Dirty” (3:11)
6. “The Knack” (4:34)
7. “Hop, Skip & Jump” (2:46)
8. “Up the Junction” (3:12)
9. “Hard to Find” (3:37)
10. “Slightly Drunk” (2:41)
11. “Goodbye Girl” (3:08)
12. “Cool for Cats” (3:39) takes its title from a 1956–61 ITV music series that pioneered rock-based music programming in the UK.
Sessions took place during the winter of 1978–79 at Olympic Studios, Britannia Row Studios, and Sound Techniques. Studio veteran Brian Humphries engineered Cool for Cats with assistance by Andrew Lumm. Humphries worked as a soundman on the first two albums by sixties orchestral-posters Nirvana (The Story of Simon Simopath, All of Us) and engineered post-psych recordings by Bronco, Man (2 Ozs. of Plastic With a Hole in the Middle), McDonald and Giles, Patto, Pink Floyd, and Traffic.
Bloomsbury Group artist Geoff Halpin designed the Cool for Cats cover, which presents the name and title in jagged fifties fonts. The two O’s in “cool” form eyes the black concave quadrilateral, which represents a cat’s head. UK pressings have yellow, pink, and lime backgrounds. On international pressings, the background is lavender (Australia) and purple (US). Photographer Janette Beckman (Outlandos D’Amour, Reggatta de Blanc) took the back cover group shot, which shows them reclined in a corner within a palette-shaped frame.
The “Cool for Cats” video takes place in a tight studio where two actresses (Cindy Beale and future EastEnders star Michelle Collins) plays Difford’s backing singers, clad in red spandex pants, rose-rim shades and leather jackets backed with letters that (when side-to-side) form the word SQE+EEZE. The band are all leather-clad apart from Glen (red blazer) and Gilson (brown corduroy).
On the week of April 14, “Cool for Cats” reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart behind “Bright Eyes” by Art Garfunkel. Squeeze performed it on the March 22 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired “Cool for Cats” amid spring hits by Buzzcocks (“Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”), Chic (“I Want Your Love”), Dennis Brown (“Money In My Pocket”), Dire Straits (“Sultans of Swing”), Generation X (“Valley of the Dolls”), Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”), The Jacksons (“Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)”), The Jam (“Strange Town”), Kate Bush (“Wow”), The Members (“Offshore Banking Business”), Queen (“Don’t Stop Me Now”), The Real Thing (“Can You Feel The Force”), and Siouxsie & The Banshees (“The Staircase Mystery”). Squeeze recreate the video in their TotP segment with Chris flanked by the hyperactive Cindy and Michelle in their emblazoned leather. Glenn sports a checked two-tone suit.
In mid-May, Squeeze lifted “Up The Junction” as the second single, backed with “It’s So Dirty.” The video takes place in a kitchen area where Glenn (pink shirt, satin green pants) straddles a bench while the others perform in cramped quarters near the counter, where the two women (Cindy and Michelle) make drinks.
“Up The Junction” matched its predecessor with one week at No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart, where it nested on the week of July 7 under “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” by Gary Numan + The Tubeway Army.
Squeeze mimed “Up The Junction” on the May 31 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid spring hits Anita Ward (“Ring My Bell”), Blondie (“Sunday Girl”), Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions (“Boogie Wonderland”), Fischer-Z (“The Worker”), Gerry Rafferty (“Night Owl”), Hot Chocolate (“Mindless Boogie”), Lene Lovich (“Say When”), Linda Clifford (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”), McFadden & Whitehead (“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”), Peaches & Herb (“Reunited”), Quantum Jump (“The Lone Ranger”), Sparks (“The Number One Song In Heaven”), and Voyager (“Halfway Hotel”). In their “Up The Junction” segment, Squeeze appear under blue–purple lights and triangular fixtures in variations of the mod look (apart from Jools, who sports his trademark bowtie). Squeeze also mimed the song under flashing ring fixtures on the June 28 broadcast of TopPop, where Bentley donned a lightning bolt sweatshirt (seen in multiple ’79 appearances).
B. “All’s Well” (2:28)
Squeeze performed “Slap and Tickle” months earlier with “It’s So Dirty” on the April 3 broadcast of the BBC music program The Old Grey Whistle Test, where Chris played Glenn’s white Stratocaster while Tilbrook played a black hollow-body Gibson.
Squeeze mimed “Slap and Tickle” on the September 13 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid late-summer hits by the Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”), Commodores (“Sail On”), Madness (“The Prince”), Matumbi (“Point of View”), Nick Lowe (“Cruel to Be Kind ”), The Police (“Message In a Bottle”), Rainbow (“Since You’ve Been Gone”), Sad Cafe (“Every Day Hurts”), and XTC (“Making Plans for Nigel”). Glenn (yellow blazer) makes percussive motions on a synthesizer on the “Slap and Tickle” segment, where Chris takes the mic in a casual shirt and outgrown hair. Tilbrook repeated the synth act (clad in fedora, blue blazer, and skinny tie) on TopPop, where Gilson appeared with blonded hair.
A. “Christmas Day” (3:50)
B. “Going Crazy” (3:59)
Squeeze appeared as a four piece (without Bentley) to honor their two big 1979 hits on the two-part Christmas edition of TotP, where they performed “Cool for Cats” (aired 12/25) and mimed “Up the Junction” (aired 12/27) in mod suits and down-combed hair (including the typically back-combed Lavis). In the surviving clips, Chris leads a mannered performance of “Cool for Cats” (in contrast to the giddy earlier reditions) and the band swaps intrustuments on “Up the Junction” with Glenn on drums, Gilson on bass, Jools on guitar, and Chris on keyboards.
Squeeze released their third album, Argybargy, in February 1980 on A&M. It features ten Difford–Tilbrook originals that range from upbeat riff-based rockers (“Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” “Misadventure”) to keyboard-laden numbers, including the moody “I Think I’m Go Go” and the hypnotic “Here Comes That Feeling.”
Lyrically, Argybargy includes odd romantic metaphors (“If I Didn’t Love You”) and vignettes (“Separate Beds”). On side two, the idioms include rockabilly (“Vicky Verky”), Motown (“There at the Top”), and sixties organ-driven garage rock (“Farfisa Beat”).
Squeeze’s use of musical decor continues on “Another Nail in My Heart,” a loopy marimba-sprinkled breakup lament. Holland sings his co-write “Wrong Side of the Moon,” another example of his barroom-boogie penchant.
1. “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” (3:58)
2. “Another Nail in My Heart” (2:56)
3. “Separate Beds” (3:21)
4. “Misadventure” (2:56)
5. “I Think I’m Go Go” (4:18)
1. “Farfisa Beat” (2:57)
2. “Here Comes That Feeling” (2:12)
3. “Vicky Verky” (3:12)
4. “If I Didn’t Love You” 4:11)
5. “Wrong Side of the Moon” (2:25)
6. “There at the Top” (3:46)
Sessions occurred between August 1979 and January 1980 and Olympic. Argybargy is their third and last album with sound work by John Wood, who subsequently worked with Kiwi popsters Zoo. Lumm engineered the album in succession with the debut by Spanish new wavers Sissi. Select passages feature string arrangements by conductor Del Newman, also credited on seventies titles by Brian Protheroe (I / You), Cat Stevens, Catherine Howe, Gordon Giltrap, and Leo Sayer (Silverbird).
A&M in-house designer Michael Ross did the Argybargy cover art, which shows a xerox of the band flanked jacket-deep in silhouetted shapes amid a geometric blue–red–yellow scheme. The back cover pictures each member in assorted goofball activities against a white background. The inner-sleeve contains lyrics and alternate pics from the front- and back-cover shoots. Ross also designed 1979–80 album covers for Athletico Spizz 80 (Do a Runner), Chas Jankel (self-titled), Joe Jackson (Look Sharp!), Live Wire, The Police (Zenyatta Mondatta), and the Tarney–Spencer Band (Run For Your Life, European cover).
B. “Pretty Thing” (2:42)
The video for “Another Nail In My Heart” intermixes scenes of Squeeze engaged in laddish behavior at a bar with a studio performance minus Jools, who spends the video rolling his piano across town, only to arrive at the end for the closing glissando. Michelle Collins cameos in ’50s floozie mode.
Squeeze mimed “Another Nail In My Heart” amid blue-lit bars on a small round stage for the March 6 broadcast of TotP, which twice aired the song amid late-winter hits by Barbara Dickson (“January February”), The Beat (“Hands Off She’s Mine”), The Bodysnatchers (“Let’s Do Rock Steady”), Captain & Tennille (“Do That to Me One More Time”), Fern Kinney (“Together We Are Beautiful”), The Jam (“Going Underground”), Martha & The Muffins (“Echo Beach”), Rush (“Spirit of Radio”), and UB40 (“Food for Thought”).
In the US, A&M chose “If I Didn’t Love You” as the first Argybargy a-side, backed with the non-album Holland track — this time titled “Pretty One” with a Difford co-credit.
B. “What the Butler Saw” (2:45)
Squeeze mimed “Pulling Mussels” on the May 15 broadcast of TotP, which also featured spring hits by the The Beat (“Mirror In The Bathroom”), Crown Heights Affair (“You Gave Me Love”), Kate Bush (“Breathing”), Mystic Merlin (“Just Can’t Give You Up”), Narada Michael Walden (“I Shoulda Loved Ya”), Peter Gabriel (“No Self Control”), Roxy Music (“Over You”), and Whitesnake (“Fool for Your Loving”). Glenn lip syncs in a white fedora and shawl-lapelled white blazer while Gilson drums up front in park ranger fatigue.
Jools Holland departed Squeeze in late 1980 for a solo career. In 1982, he emerged as a co-host on The Tube, a British music program that ran five seasons on the ITV network. Squeeze hired veteran keyboardist Paul Carrack, whose background included three-album stints in Warm Dust (1970–72) and Ace (1974–77). His voice graces the 1975 Ace hit “How Long,” a transatlantic evergreen. He recently toured with Frankie Miller and Roxy Music and debuted as a solo artist with the 1980 Vertigo release Nightbird.
East Side Story
East Side Story functions as a style dictionary with examples of psychedelia (“There’s No Tomorrow”), country (“Labelled with Love”), and rockabilly (“Messed Around”). “Heaven” is a ska-tinged music hall number in the vein of Madness.
Arrangement-wise, East Side Story encompasses guitar-driven jangle rockers (“In Quintessence,” “Is That Love,” “Mumbo Jumbo”) and string-laden chamber pop (“F-Hole,” “Vanity Fair”).
East Side Story is the first of two non-consecutive Squeeze albums with keyboardist Paul Carrack, who trades lead vocals on the metaphorical miscommunication drama “Tempted,” one of their most popular songs.
1. “In Quintessence” (2:55)
2. “Someone Else’s Heart” (3:00)
3. “Tempted” (4:02)
4. “Piccadilly” (3:26)
5. “There’s No Tomorrow” (3:27)
6. “Heaven” (3:49)
7. “Woman’s World” (3:42)
8. “Is That Love” (2:31)
9. “F-Hole” (4:41)
10. “Labelled with Love” (4:44)
11. “Someone Else’s Bell” (3:08)
12. “Mumbo Jumbo” (3:13)
13. “Vanity Fair” (3:09)
14. “Messed Around” (2:42)
Costello produced the album apart from “In Quintessence,” which Dave Edmunds produced with assistance by Neill King, a Rockpile soundman who worked concurrently with Shakin’ Stevens and Stray Cats. The arrangement came about through Costello’s manager, Stiff Records founder Jake Riviera, who took Squeeze under his wing. He initially planned to have them make a double album with a different producer for each side. The four producers tapped for the project were Costello, Edmunds, Nick Lowe, and Paul McCartney, though only the first two could commit time to the project, which ultimately became a lengthy single disc with three non-album b-sides.
Sessions took place at Eden Studios, London, in late 1980 and early 1981. Costello worked on East Side Story between the sessions for his two 1981 albums: Trust and the country covers disc Almost Blue. This was his second major production credit after the 1979 self-titled debut by The Specials. His production assistant on East Side Story, Roger Bechirian, was a Stiff-roster soundman (The Belle Stars, Lene Lovich, Wreckless Eric) who subsequently partook in the phantom electro art-pop project Blanket of Secrecy.
Photographer Bob Bromide took the East Side Story cover shot, which shows a straight-standing Bentley looking sideways at the lens while the others lean sideways like the Tower of Pisa. The name and title text (all caps) double-purposes the first “E” in SQUEEZE for the last letter in SIDE. The back cover shows each member peeking sideways from a “window” (paper holes) in a theater set piece painted as a dark tenement.
B. “Trust” (1:46)
The video to “Is That Love” captures zoom-ins of Squeeze singing and finger-snapping, rendered tinted, fuzzy, and static overlaid through broken TV signals.
“Is That Love” reached No. 1 in Israel and went Top 35 in the UK, where Squeeze mimed it on the June 4 broadcast of TotP, which also featured spring ’81 hits by Adam & The Ants (“Stand & Deliver”), Imagination (“Body Talk”), Michael Jackson (“One Day In Your Life”), The Jam (“Funeral Pyre”), Odyssey (“Going Back to My Roots”), Phil Collins (“If Leaving Me Is Easy”), Siouxsie & The Banshees (“Spellbound”), and Toyah (“I Want To Be Free”). The Squeeze segment takes place under blue raybeams amid pink–teal zigzag metal columns. Lavis sports a purple blazer.
B. “Yap Yap Yap” (4:14)
Squeeze shot two videos for “Tempted.” The first clip has Paul Carrack at the fore in a sky-blue blazer and crimson shirt. He sways to the camera (medium view) while the others line up back-to-back (tilted) against a backdrop of floating purple line art.
The second, more circulated “Tempted” video opens with three female dancers who sway to the rhythm on a dark soundstage, where Carrack (off-white blazer and tie, maroon shirt) claims the spotlite while his dark-suited bandmates stand and take cues for their vocable parts.
“Tempted reached No. 8 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart in the US, where the second video received high rotation on the fledgling cable music channel MTV, which debuted on August 1, 1981, and ran “Tempted” regularly during their first eighteen months of broadcast.
In late September, “Labelled With Love” reappeared as the album’s third UK single, backed with “Squabs On Forty Fab.” Weeks later, “Messed Around,” became the album’s second US single and fourth overall a-side.
B. “Squabs On Forty Fab” ()
“Labelled With Love” reached No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart. Squeeze mimed it on the October 15 broadcast of TotP, which also featured autumn ’81 hits by Altered Images (“Happy Birthday”), Bad Manners (“Walking In the Sunshine”), Godley & Crème (“Under Your Thumb”), Haircut One Hundred (“Favourite Shirts”), Heaven 17 (“Play to Win”), Olivia Newton-John (“Physical”), Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark (“Joan of Arc”), Rod Stewart (“Tonight I’m Yours”), and Hatfield & the North vets Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin with their cover of the 1963 Lesley Gore classic “It’s My Party.”
The TotP “Labelled” segment takes place amid zigzag glass columns under smoky pink and blue lights. Glenn and Gilson sport blazers in respective hues of pink and lavender. The keyboard slot features newcomer Don Snow, who replaced Carrack after promotions wrapped on the prior single. Snow recorded the 1979–81 albums The Sound of Sunbathing and Pet Rock with London new wavers The Sinceros, which started as the backing band for Lene Lovich on her 1978 debut Stateless.
The new Squeeze lineup also mimed “Labelled With Love” on the December 8 broadcast of TopPop, which dramatized the lyrics with scenes of a drunk, despondent woman in a run-down room adjacent to the soundstage.
“The Axe Has Now Fallen” (3:51)
Sweets from a Stranger
Squeeze released their fifth album, Sweets from a Stranger, in May 1982 on A&M. It features twelve Difford–Tilbrook originals with a predominantly loungy, moody bent. “When the Hangover Strikes” is a slow, misty-eyed drunkard’s lament with vintage string decor. “Black Coffee In Bed” is a discreet yet nuanced account of a rebound affair, rendered with soul-jazz organ and a legato jazz-guitar break. “Points of View” casts Difford’s “he said, she said” lyrical vignette in a stark light with ominous organ backing.
Other tracks take a nervier, schizophrenic approach. “Out of Touch” and “Stranger Than the Stranger on the Shore” have jerky stop-start rhythms and experimental keyboard–synth arrangements – hallmarks of Snow’s presence. “Onto the Dance Floor” is a whirlwind dance number with re-imagined disco elements. “Tongue Like a Knife” takes the fluttering string route of “F-Hole.” The second track on each side is an upbeat guitar-driven number: the ivory-spinning “I Can’t Hold On” and the bell-stamped “I’ve Returned.”
The last three songs conjure sixties sounds. “His House Her Home” is a light yet uptempo piano-driven number with airy harmonies that recall Chad & Jeremy and other Beat Boom balladeers. They invoke The Zombies on “The Very First Dance,” a dark, ethereal cut with sighing vocables reminiscent of “Time for All Seasons.” The acoustic strum and deadpan harmonies on “The Elephant Ride” recalls somber Lennon-composed Beatles tracks like “I’ll Be Back.”
1. “Out of Touch” (3:50)
2. “I Can’t Hold On” (3:34)
3. “Points of View” (4:12)
4. “Stranger Than the Stranger on the Shore” (3:19)
5. “Onto the Dance Floor” (3:37)
6. “When the Hangover Strikes” (4:29)
7. “Black Coffee in Bed” (6:12)
8. “I’ve Returned” (2:34)
9. “Tongue Like a Knife” (4:10)
10. “His House Her Home” (3:23)
11. “The Very First Dance” (3:17)
12. “The Elephant Ride” (3:22)
Squeeze co-produced Sweets from a Stranger with engineer Phil McDonald, a late-period Beatles soundman (Abbey Road) who worked on early seventies titles by Barclay James Harvest, Claire Hamill, Forest (The Full Circle), Stealers Wheel, and Syd Barrett. Sessions took place in late 1981 and early 1982 at Ramport. The assistant engineer, Butch Yates, worked on post-punk albums by Bethnal and Gloria Mundi.
“Black Coffee In Bed” appeared as an advance single in April 1982, backed by “The Hunt,” an exclusive track. “Black Coffee” features backing vocals by Costello and Paul Young, then between his stint in the Q-Tips and the launch of his solo career. In the US, “I’ve Returned” was the first single, followed in June by “Black Coffee In Bed.”
B. “The Hunt” (3:52)
The video for “Black Coffee In Bed” takes place in a lifesize dollhouse where band members and townsfolk (old and young) occupy different rooms, as seen from the cutaway exterior. As the song unfolds, a young man and woman flirt, date, marry, and separate as she tends to their kids while he has an affair. Articles of note appear on Bentley (brown fedora, one cat eye), Lavis (leather blazer), Snow (sky-blue leather blazer), and Tilbrook (pink shirt, Western bolo tie). The video joined “Tempted” on MTV’s high-rotation list.
Squeeze mimed “Black Coffee In Bed” on the April 16 broadcast of the ITV children’s show Razzmatazz, where Glenn strummed a sunburst Fender Stat.
In late July, “When The Hangover Strikes” appeared as the album’s second UK single, backed with the exclusive “Elephant Girl.”
B. “Elephant Girl” (3:30)
“Annie Get Your Gun”
On October 8, 1982, Squeeze released “Annie Get Your Gun,” a standalone single produced by Alan Tarney. The b-side, “Spanish Guitar,” is a leftover from the Sweets from a Stranger sessions.
A. “Annie Get Your Gun” (3:22)
B. “Spanish Guitar” (2:38)
Squeeze chose “Annie Get Your Gun” from two songs written at the demand of A&M, which paired them with Tarney, a UK-based Australian musician–producer whose work includes 1980–81 albums by Cliff Richard (I’m No Hero, Wired for Sound), Barbara Dickson (The Barbara Dickson Album), and Leo Sayer (Living In a Fantasy).
As a hands-on multi-instrumentalist and soundman, Tarney typically worked with singers who did their parts and delegated music tasks to him. Recent Tarney productions worked like clockwork. (On the day him and Sayer realized they needed another song for LIaF, they chose the Bobby Vee song “More Than I Can Say” from a K-Tell commercial and had it memorized, rehearsed, and recorded that evening.) Tarney employed this same practice upon meeting Difford and Tilbrook, who handed him their “Annie Get Your Gun” demo for consideration. To their surprise, he phoned them that evening with news that he self-recorded the backing track and only needed Chris and Glenn’s vocals. The band made little push-back apart from Gilson Lavis, who insisted on recording his own drum track.
“Annie Get Your Gun” appears as the closing track on Singles – 45’s and Under, which compiles hits from the first five Squeeze albums: one each from Squeeze (“Take Me I’m Yours”) and Sweets From a Stranger (“Black Coffee in Bed”) and two from Argybargy (“Another Nail in My Heart,” “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)”) and three apiece from Cool for Cats (“Cool for Cats,” “Up the Junction,” “Slap and Tickle”) and East Side Story (“Is That Love,” “Tempted,” “Labelled With Love”). US copies feature “If I Didn’t Love You” in lieu of “Labelled With Love.”
Squeeze performed “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)” on the November 8, 1982, broadcast of the NBC sketch-comedy program Saturday Night Live, guest-hosted by seven-year-old E.T. star Drew Barrymore. Bespectacled cast member Tim Kazurinsky announced the band’s first number (“In their final TV appearance together, ever”) while holding Drew, who shouted “Squeeze!” Glenn wore a vertical-striped shirt and gray sharkskin suit for the appearance, flanked by articles of note on Lavis (purple suit, leather gloves) and Bentley (sky-blue suit, polkadot shirt). “Annie” ended with uproariously loud applause for an SNL studio audience.
- Squeeze (1978)
- Cool for Cats (1979)
- Argybargy (1980)
- East Side Story (1981)
- Sweets from a Stranger (1982)
- Difford & Tilbrook (1984 — released as Difford & Tilbrook)
- Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (1985)
- Babylon and On (1987)
- Frank (1989)
- Play (1991)
- Some Fantastic Place (1993)
- Ridiculous (1995)
- Domino (1998)
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