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The better, better it gets the more these girls forget
July 7, 2007 7:05 AM   Subscribe

Power Pop 4 Ever. Pop icon, kick ass guitarist, working musician, and subject of a recent movie, Glen , along with Squeeze bandmate Chris Difford, wrote some of the most memorable hooks of the 80s. Among them Pulling mussels, Black Coffee in Bed, Up the Junction and Is that love?.
posted by psmealey (64 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
/disappointed not to find Tilbrook's duet with Elvis Costello From a Whisper to a Scream.
posted by psmealey at 7:06 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Squeeze's "East Side Story" is a pop masterpiece. Thanks for this post - gonna listen today.
posted by davebush at 7:20 AM on July 7, 2007


Heh, never heard of them. Apparently they never crossed over to mainland Europe.
Their way of singing sounds a bit like Crowded House. Nice.
posted by jouke at 7:47 AM on July 7, 2007


Best post Lennon/McCartney British songwriting partnership bar NONE.

"Pulling mussels" is the greatest.
posted by fire&wings at 7:53 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have to confess that the songs of Squeeze mean much, much more to me than any Beatles tunes. Out DJing one night years ago, I played "Another Nail in My Heart," and embarrassingly realized I was having an awkward private moment of stillness rather than choosing a record to follow it. Gulp. I always have to listen to "Goodbye Girl" twice if I hear it. The list goes on.

I would consider myself a skeptic of reunited 70s-80s groups (though I always happen to shell out for them), but the Glenn Tillbrook show I went to in Austin a few years back gave me hope. His solo shows are amazing and actually ...fun. I doubt we'll leave with the same feeling, but my SO and I banking our summer joy on the Difford/Tillbrook-led reunion tour. Probably the only show we'll pay for in NYC this summer.

I can't find it online anymore, but every Squeeze fan should check out "Squabs on Forty Flab," (which originally backed "Labelled with Love") in which they economically compress all their early hits into one seamless, 5-minute-ish arrangement. It's on the 2nd disc of Big Squeeze: The Very Best of Squeeze.

Thanks for pointing to all this stuff to get us ready.
posted by activitystory at 8:14 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


You could always rely on Squeeze for both hooks and soul. And their English Mugs tour with Costello was killer.

That demo of "Is That Love?" on Tillbrook's MySpace is gorgeous. So much good music out there, so little time.
posted by maudlin at 8:20 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks, I love these guys. You forgot my favorite - Tempted (by the Fruit of Another).
posted by iconomy at 8:24 AM on July 7, 2007


Dueling reinterpretations of my favorite Squeeze song (and one of my guiltiest pleasures):

Take Me

I'm Yours

I, for one prefer CD's version. But fascinating to see the different approaches.
posted by googly at 8:28 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cool For Cats
posted by bhnyc at 8:32 AM on July 7, 2007


Pulling Mussels has to be my most googled-for-lyrics song. Every time I hear it I can't remember what they're really saying (especially the part about Maid Marion's feet) and I google it and I d'oh all over again every time. I just had to google it again after watching the YouTube.
posted by iconomy at 8:35 AM on July 7, 2007


I love the little 45's-&-under-guy animation at the start of that "Cool for Cats" clip!
posted by activitystory at 8:40 AM on July 7, 2007


Wasn't one of them a total ass on the VH1 "reuniting the bands" show (or whatever it was called)?
posted by thanotopsis at 8:53 AM on July 7, 2007


I have to confess that the songs of Squeeze mean much, much more to me than any Beatles tunes.
Totally. I've been loving them since high school and Cool for Cats--it's the lyrics and narratives, and those 2 wildly different voices.

Don't miss nonhits like Vanity Fair and Misadventure either.
posted by amberglow at 8:54 AM on July 7, 2007


and of course, Carrack's piano playing too--they were all brillliant, i think.
posted by amberglow at 8:59 AM on July 7, 2007


this torrent is pretty complete : >
posted by amberglow at 9:01 AM on July 7, 2007


I'm surprised it took so long for somebody to mention Tempted. I was always under the impression that was the band's best-known song, albeit with Paul Carrack on vocals.

A high point of my courtship with the woman who as to become my wife was a concert we attended at Poplar Creek, outside of Chicago. It featured a double bill of Squeeze and The Hooters. Seriously.
posted by SteveInMaine at 9:06 AM on July 7, 2007


... "When I write," adds Difford, "I very rarely have any melody in mind, not one that would make any sense. I don't hum or tap. I write in silence as you would write an essay or take an exam. I write the words out longhand and cross things out and scribble things in. I do think having a certain meter is important, because it's the first structure of the song. But I don't write a verse, then a chorus, a verse, then a chorus. It's more interesting to write down verses and not say any of them is the chorus and see which one Glenn picks as the chorus." How much does he explain when he gives his partner the lyrics? "Nothing. I just like to get up a good collection of six or seven lyrics and slip them under the door. And expect the worst." ...
posted by amberglow at 9:07 AM on July 7, 2007


Huh. I always thought most of these songs were by Crowded House. Weird.
posted by goatdog at 9:08 AM on July 7, 2007


Forget Crowded House--they came ages later--people who like Squeeze might also like Beautiful South--some great great songs from them have the same feeling and wonderfully written, i find.
posted by amberglow at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2007


Ha, Cool for Cats was one of the first two LPs I bought w my allowance - the other was My Aim Is True - made me the lovelorn nerd I am today.
posted by nicwolff at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2007


Argy Bargy was just about the only LP which occupied my turntable during my freshman year (1980-81) in college.

Saw Squeeze twice in the 80's. Tillbrook is an amazing performer; his singing and guitar playing were every bit as good live as in the studio.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2007


"Tempted" was amazing. I was actually disappointed to find out that Carrack wasn't Squeeze's regular vocalist once I'd heard it. As such, it took me a little longer to get into the band as a whole than it would have otherwise. My loss.

Having come of musical age in the mid and late 70's, I've come to think of the 80's as a period of musical drought. Squeeze is one of the wonderful exceptions. Some of the best hooks and lyrics of the decade.
posted by hwestiii at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2007


They were indeed a great band and never compromised on the Englishness of their lyrics. "Is That Love" is a piece of pop perfection.
posted by essexjan at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Forget Crowded House--they came ages later

1986, even! Ages, I tell you!

posted by scody at 10:09 AM on July 7, 2007


(oh, people might like Stars too--the Canadian band--great great writing)

ZenMaster, i think i wore out my cassette of Argybargy from listening to it so much. : >

I've come to think of the 80's as a period of musical drought.
Not at all! It was a great pop/new wave/dance era, with the added bonus of truly great songwriters and craftsmen on the UK side--even silly songs/bands usually had clever elements (see Bananarama's output, for instance).
posted by amberglow at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2007


Funny to see the Crowded House mentions, I hadn't thought about that. I would say that for sheer quirkiness, Split Enz was much closer to Squeeze than Crowded House, but unfortunately their catalogue was all too brief.
posted by psmealey at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2007


Isn't Squeeze just the great equalizer in male/female fights for the stereo? Had to be said ...
posted by mctsonic at 10:16 AM on July 7, 2007


The countryfied version of 'Up the Junction' that Glen Difford did last year on a compilation cd (Uncut maybe?) is absolutely cracker. One of my favourite songs, and this version takes it takes new levels.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2007


I've come to think of the 80's as a period of musical drought.

After the monsoon of the early 70's, the 80's were bound to suck. That 80s music sucked so much and so completely is what is remarkable. The generation of "just say no", didn't have a clue.
posted by three blind mice at 10:26 AM on July 7, 2007


That 80s music sucked so much and so completely is what is remarkable.

Squeeze was probably my all time favorite in that period, but I just can't go there with you. Some of the post-punk stuff (Joy Division, Siouxsie, Echo and the Bunnymen, Depeche Mode, early Cure, early Alarm, early U2, Killing Joke, Talking Heads) and what came out of the DC and LA hardcore scenes remains some of my favorite music today.
posted by psmealey at 10:29 AM on July 7, 2007


wonderful pop, indeed. power pop? not even...
posted by quonsar at 10:29 AM on July 7, 2007


Split Enz was much closer to Squeeze than Crowded House, but unfortunately their catalogue was all too brief.

psmealy, do you mean Split Enz's catalogue was brief? Their output was much more sizeable than Crowded House's, actually (Split Enz put out 10 albums, while CH put out only 4 -- 5, now, counting the new reunion album), though it's true that the later, quasi-new wave Enz only accounts for a fraction of that (i.e., Waiata, True Colours, Time & Time). [/finn fanatic derail]

Sorry, back on topic. Squeeze was fucking AWESOME, and definitely one of those few bands that, as mctsonic says, pretty much everyone could agree on.
posted by scody at 10:39 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


grr, Time & Tide.
posted by scody at 10:40 AM on July 7, 2007


I hadn't realized that, scody. I am only familiar with the new wavey Split Enz stuff (which I love). Thanks for clueing me into that, you've now given me some stuff to catch up on.
posted by psmealey at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2007


Yeah, the new wavey stuff is really my favorite of theirs, too (I still remember the first time I saw the video for "I Got You," which pretty much changed my life), but the whole catalogue is pretty darn great. Drop me an email if you like and I'd be happy to burn a cd or two for you!
posted by scody at 10:49 AM on July 7, 2007


I've never heard of these guys, or heard any of these ostensibly memorable tunes. But they're pretty good! I'll be passing this on to someone who I know will get a kick out of them. Thanks!
posted by majick at 10:57 AM on July 7, 2007


Another thing to add here is that I saw Tilbrook play in an 80s showcase (I was pleased to be among the younger people in the crowd) at Irving Plaza about a year and a half ago. Also playing that night were Nick Lowe, the Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw and a few others... good night. At any rate, I was blown about by his guitar playing more than anything else. For whatever reason, I had always assumed the Difford was the guitarist in the band. But it all kind of made sense when I watched Tilbrook play and sing. The riffs were just world class, and pretty closely matched some of the more interesting stylistic things he does with his voice.

I encourage you to check out his version of Hendrix's Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) in my third link above. It's just him and an acoustic guitar and it's a bit of a revelation. I knew guys in the 80s that always thought that "New Wave wusses" weren't good guitar players. They were wrong. Some of the stuff Tilbrook did back then was a tasty and challenging melodically as anything the wankers in the hair metal bands were doing in those days. A lot better, in fact.
posted by psmealey at 11:15 AM on July 7, 2007


When people of my generation (I was born in the early 70s) wax rhapsodic about 80s music and it turns out they mean cheezy "I love the 80s" one-hit-wonders like 99 Luftballoons, I just shake my head and thank God my 9th grade drawing teacher kept the radio in the studio tuned to WBRU out of Providence. I was listening to Squeeze and Split Enz and the Clash and Love and Rockets etc etc when all my friends were into Bon Jovi and Poison. And then a year later my boyfriend turned me on to NPR where I started listening to Leo Kottke and Jane Siberry and Bela Fleck and Cherish the Ladies...so thanks Mr. Duhamel and Donald Ross, respectively. My ipod is a testament to those formative listening experiences and I will now add some Squeeze to my itunes shopping list.
posted by Biblio at 11:21 AM on July 7, 2007


jouky and majick have made me feel very, very old. Or stunned. How can someone mature to the point of having a MeFi membership and not have even heard of Squeeze? [ /me watches liver spots suddenly burst forth on skin surface]
posted by intermod at 11:33 AM on July 7, 2007


cheezy [...] like 99 Luftballoons.
I liked Neue Deutsche Welle (Peter Schilling, Spider Murphy Gang, Nena, Falco). Recently I was singing Skandall im Sperrbezirk with a (german) colleague in my car. Staccato singing. Great fun.

Ja Rosie hat ein Telefon
auch ich hab' ihre Nummer schon.
Unter 32-16-8
herrscht Konjunktur die ganze Nacht.
Und draußen im Hotel d'Amour
langweilen sich die Damen nur,
weil jeder den die Sehnsucht quält
ganz einfach Rosies Nummer wählt.
Und draußen vor der großen Stadt
stehen die Nutten sich die Füße platt!
Skandal (Skandal)
im Sperrbezirk

posted by jouke at 11:55 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry to disappoint you intermod. But I'm from the Netherlands. We had around that time Doe Maar (NSFAC). (Not Suitable For Anglosaxon Consumption)
That was ska though.
posted by jouke at 12:07 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Wasn't one of them a total ass on the VH1 "reuniting the bands" show "
I didn't see the footage in question, but anyone with a shred of credibility would treat anything related to VH1 as a "total ass" or a "get the fuck out of my yard before I shoot you".
posted by 2sheets at 12:10 PM on July 7, 2007


Love me some Squeeze. Thanks for the post!
posted by maxwelton at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2007


Take it to the bridge
Throw it overboard
See if it can swim
Back up to the shore
No one's in the house
Everyone is out
All the lights are on
And the blinds are down

I hadn't heard Hourglass in years, but it turns out I remembered all the lyrics in the verses, too. Great, goofy video.
posted by emelenjr at 12:24 PM on July 7, 2007


I was trying to remember that one, emelenjr....thanks! I can't stop listening to it.
posted by iconomy at 12:34 PM on July 7, 2007


Also playing that night were Nick Lowe, the Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw and a few others... good night.

/intensely envious

Cruel to be Kind and Someday Someway are still in heavy rotation on my ipod--will probably always be. : >
posted by amberglow at 1:47 PM on July 7, 2007


Awesome post.

Since I haven't seen it mentioned here, I feel compelled to say this: for those Squeeze fans who haven't heard it, I *beg* of you, in the most sincere terms possible, to check out their record Play, which has been out of print in the US at least for as long as I remember. I loves me some Squeeze as much as the next guy - but much as I love East Side Story and Frank neither of them match Play for its consistency in writing and execution. And you want to talk about guitar playing? One minute Glenn's playing a country solo, the next brashy rock, the next you hear shades of fusion - and it ALL sounds legit and TOTALLY tasteful. For my money, Play is Squeeze's masterpiece.

OK, enough gushing. Gonna go listen to it myself now.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:51 PM on July 7, 2007


Tilbrook's cover of Justin Trevino's "Genitalia of a Fool" is a master stroke. So to speak. And the theme is as old in their music as "Pulling Mussels."


Yeah they were good. Already meta, which may be why so much love flows for them here. But good meta.
posted by spitbull at 2:52 PM on July 7, 2007


And before someone else says it:

Metafilter: Already Meta, But Good Meta.
posted by spitbull at 2:54 PM on July 7, 2007


Yep, I very much heart squeeze.

When even I hear "Pulling Mussels from a Shell" I have to sing it as we did in college though... "Pulling Muscles from Michelle." (my best friend's sister's name was Michelle)
posted by miss lynnster at 2:56 PM on July 7, 2007


Squeeze's best version of "Goodbye Girl" is the fast live version from Six Squeeze Songs Crammed Into One 10-Inch Record (which had a fun cover).

I think Paul Carrack will only be in your band if he can sing your biggest song ever. in addition to "Tempted" (which also had Elvis Costello on backup vocals), he sang "How Long" by Ace, and "Silent Running" by Mike + The Mechanics.

Crowded House fans might enjoy See Ya 'Round, the last Split Enz album, which was released after Tim Finn left the band. It's like a proto-Crowded House; they even do "I Walk Away," which they redid on the first Crowded House album. (The new album is good and I'm psyched to be seeing them next month.)
posted by kirkaracha at 5:14 PM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


/intensely envious

Stay tuned, amber, I'm still gathering material for my eventual Rockpile post. Unfortunately, live footage of Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe playing together is as scarce as hen's teeth.
posted by psmealey at 5:35 PM on July 7, 2007


Thanks muchly. These and pretty much all songs in this thread were in heavy rotation on KINK in the old days in Portland, OR. Hadn't heard several since the late 80s.
posted by hal9k at 5:46 PM on July 7, 2007


Thanks for this post. If someone doesn't like Annie Get Your Gun, I feel like something must be missing from their soul.
posted by marxchivist at 6:06 PM on July 7, 2007


"After the monsoon of the early 70's, the 80's were bound to suck. That 80s music sucked so much and so completely is what is remarkable. The generation of "just say no", didn't have a clue."

what a retard.
posted by vronsky at 8:23 PM on July 7, 2007


If someone doesn't like Annie Get Your Gun, I feel like something must be missing from their soul.
"don't shoot that singerlist'ner,
you're shooting number one ..." ; >

The generation of "just say no", didn't have a clue."
Just say no came later, and it was aimed at Reagan youth--they were all listening to Debbie Gibson and Tiffany and New Kids anyway, being in elementary school and all.
posted by amberglow at 8:27 PM on July 7, 2007


Dear amberglow,
Do you know why I stop and stare
And smile when you walk by?
And how I call you up at night
I hang up the phone and I cry
If I never got to know you so well
Maybe I would be fine
Baby, you know that I can't tell
Why you should be, you should be mine
Shake your love
I just can't shake your love
Shake your love
I just can't shake your love
Shake your love
I just can't shake your love
Shake your love
I just can't shake your love
posted by vronsky at 9:45 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Best post Lennon/McCartney British songwriting partnership bar NONE.

I'm sorry, but as much as I think Squeeze is a great band, Tennant/Lowe have them rather soundly beat.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 12:13 AM on July 8, 2007


Squeeze was the one band everybody loved when I was in college. I also saw them twice.

Back in the late 1980s, I was program director at a college radio station. I was all of 20 and pretty much as self righteous dick as anyone in a position of petty power would be at that age.

Anyhow, Squeeze was playing at our college and the head of the student government, who was sponsoring the event, sent a note to all of our DJs telling them they were required to play two Squeeze songs a show to help promote the concert. Well, that's how most of us at the radio station read it. I think it probably was a reasonable request asking if the DJs wouldn't mind maybe playing some Squeeze during the show, but most of us on the radio station board were driven by rage.

I went down to the station and pulled all the Squeeze albums in a fit of "don't you tell us what to play."

More reasonable heads ultimately intervened and got them back on the air.

Of course, the ironic part was that, if you looked at the playlists from the two years prior, you would have noticed that Squeeze was probably played at least two times on every show anyways. Our DJs just loved them some Squeeze.

Seriously, if you were on an East Coast college in the 1980s, you couldn't visit five dorm rooms without finding a copy of "Singles: 45s and Under" in four of them. And the fifth room was gutted by fire.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:06 AM on July 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Wasn't one of them a total ass on the VH1 "reuniting the bands" show "

That was Jools Holland, and he wasn't a total ass, he just didn't want to do it. But I wouldn't call him indispensable for a reunion since he wasn't actually with Squeeze for a lot of their existence -- particularly on East Side Story, which featured Paul Carrack on keyboards instead.
posted by schmedeman at 9:15 PM on July 8, 2007


As a mid-80's high school hair farmer in south Louisiana, I was completely ignorant of all things British, melodic and "new wave". Instead, I lived for "classic rock". That is, until the local high school rock cover band (that I was running lights and sound for) decided to throw "Pulling Mussels" into the set list (between "Limelight" by Rush and "Rock and Roll Fantasy" by Bad Company). That started a whole new musical obsession for me. Fabulous group, incredible songs.

I never thought "Tempted" was as good as "Is That Love?" or "Up the Junction", probably because I never heard it on the radio when it was a hit. It just never made it down there, and I didn't have MTV. "Singles (45s and Under)" was my lifeline.

I only saw Squeeze once, in Austin, with Steve Nieve from the Attractions on keyboards, playing with one arm in a sling (he injured it a couple nights before, I believe), and no Chris Difford. It was great, but it wasn't the real thing.

And I agree, "Play" is a masterpiece. I haven't heard it in years (crappy car tape deck ate my cassette and I never got it on CD...).
posted by shecky57 at 9:18 PM on July 8, 2007


Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford play on Aimee Mann's I'm With Stupid album, and she uses the riff from "Up the Junction" on "Long Shot."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:11 PM on July 8, 2007


And I agree, "Play" is a masterpiece.

It's on that torrent i linked to, above : >
posted by amberglow at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2007


I'd also like to mention that there is a kick ass cover of Manfred Mann's "Pretty Flamingo" with Difford, Tilbrook, Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello floating around out there.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:47 PM on July 9, 2007


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