Friday, February 15, 2013

A Broken Nose on a Sunny Day


Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album replay: Squeeze, East Side Story. My God, the lyrics! I'd somehow forgotten how teeming with sights, sounds, smells, and slang this great, overstuffed pop collection is. After suffering through the anomic banalities of Quadrophenia's teen identity crisis a few days ago, to dip into this tangy mulligatawny of lipstick and nicotine, of pub crawlers and lovers and fighters in cramped kitchens and coldwater flats, was almost overwhelming, like a Mike Leigh film on speed.

I'd remembered the music fondly: the rockabilly grooves that so well suit Glenn Tillbrook's voice, the bright, nimble pop of "Picadilly" and "Mumbo Jumbo," which on this listen emerged as the twin hearts of the record--if not my favorites, the songs which, with run-on choruses that seem as long as the verses, most typify the record's joyous abundance--and even the slightly strained attempts at Beatles-style versatility (ragas, classical strings, country). But with the vibrant music married to the short story-worthy observations, wordplay, and conversational characterization of the lyrics, East Side Story is an embarrassment of riches.

Caveats: It's clearer than ever why Squeeze weren't big in the States; that cultural specificity raises the accessibility bar, but also neither of their voices--not just froggy Chris Difford but also suave Tillbrook--have the presence, the immediacy to really punch through and arrest a listener. It's understandable, in other words, that they brought in a ringer, Paul Carrack, to sing most of their one big white-soul hit, "Tempted." Still, is there any other song about lust and infidelity that begins with a line like "I bought some toothpaste"?

Comments:
Dennis Kim-Prieto we saw them in philly with cheap trick a couple years ago. and yes, they played tempted, cool for cats, is that love, and all kinds of hits...
Chris Willman Love "East Side Story." But we are going to have to talk about "Quadrophenia"!
Ken Munch I remember vividly that "East Side Story" was the album that led Rolling Stone to dub Difford and Tillbrook "the new Lennon & McCartney."
Brent Hinkley Rob, did you ever listen to their first album? At that time they were called UK Squeeze. One of my favorite tunes, "Take Me I'm Yours". Then they became a little too sugary for me.
Rob Weinert-Kendt @Brent, no, I don't know that one, I'll check it out. And I guess I like me some sugar.
Gary Kout Oh no, I feel a Sqeeze day coming on! Launching Spotify now. Brent, I'm so with you on Take Me I'm Yours. Hey, there's a live acoustic version of it. Nice!
Justin Warner One odd thing I've noticed about Squeeze, at least many of the singles: They use the two singers to double the melody line an octave apart. Especially the earlier songs. ("Take Me I'm Yours," "Goodbye Girl")

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