03 October 2006

Squeeze: Argybargy

I’ve been in a very happy place for the last several weeks, so this week’s album needs to be a happy one, one that will get us up and dancing. And few bands make me happier or dancier than Squeeze.

I love British new wave. Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Squeeze ruled my turntable from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. There was a wild, free, crazy happiness to the music — at a time when I was having that damn good time you get between nineteen and twenty-four. Responsibility, planning for the future, and sleep weren’t necessities — dancing and singing and blowing every spare buck on records and hitting several music clubs each night were the only importances of my life.

Yes, I know. Those still seem to be my priorities, and I’m a long way from that twenty-four cutoff. But at least I’m happy, right? And do you ever get too old for the pure, liberating pleasure that music brings your soul? I think not.

Squeeze — thanks to the songwriting team of lyricist Chris Difford and lead singer Glenn Tilbrook, who wrote the music — was heralded as the next coming of The Beatles. Okay, what semi-great British band hasn’t been called that? But Difford/Tilbrook came damn close. They crafted wonderfully danceable pop tunes with funny, sardonic, catchy lyrics. Tilbrook’s voice soared beautifully, always at his best when the lyrics were a bit snarky. The music is intricate but uncomplicated. And I just want to dance … dance … dance around the room whenever I listen.

Plus, I still have a crush on Glenn Tilbrook. He’s so damn cute.

I went to Europe for the first time in 1984, with my parents and my sister, spending the first several days in London. I was still mad about Squeeze and the adorable Glenn Tilbrook, and I’d read that he deejayed once a week at The Wow Club (or something like that). Mama said if I could find the club, she’d go with me. Sadly, I couldn’t find it. But I’ve always loved that she was willing to go with me.

My love for Squeeze began with Argybargy. Still can’t comprehend that this album was released more than a quarter century ago. I’ve been listening to the album for days, and it still sounds fresh, current. Or maybe I’m as outdated as my record collection.

Argybargy starts what I consider the Squeeze Trilogy — followed by 1981’s East Side Story and Sweets from a Stranger in 1982. I don’t think there are many British power pop albums from that era that can top the fun, the feeling, the brilliance of these albums.

Did you notice that my Argybargy in the upper right is autographed? A happy moment in Cupland, kids.

Here’s the hard part: Which three songs do I link up for you? There are the singles — “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” “If I Didn’t Love You,” and “Another Nail in My Heart” — all great three-minute ditties that will make you dance and feel nineteen again. But I need to introduce you to new tracks so that you feel the need to run out at lunch and pick up the CD, right? So, we’re going for a two/one mix.

“If I Didn’t Love You” is a wonderful slice of power pop with the oh-so-true line “If I didn’t love you, I’d hate you.”


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“Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” is probably the most popular tune from the album (and it was hard to not include “Another Nail in My Heart”). Again, beautiful, catchy pop from the British New Wave era.


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For the lesser known, I’ve chosen “Separate Beds.” I love Glenn Tilbrook’s voice in this tune, as well as the simple beat. Difford and Tilbrook did a good job telling little stories in their songs, and this is one of their more visual ones. I love singing along.


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Yes, Renae, I should have bared all and told the story about the 1985 concert at the Fox … but I’ll save that for Sweets from a Stranger.

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26 Comments:

At 10/04/2006 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Tenacious S said...

Beth, there was a year when I was in college when I listened to The Squeeze EVERY morning. No joke. Love their vocals.

 
At 10/04/2006 09:41:00 AM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

Fantastic review Beth. I think you argued the case for "ArgyBargy" really well. And a signed copy too. Jools Holland left the band soon after this I think so if it's got Jools' signature on then it could be worth a bob or two in years to come.

I'm torn between this and "East Side Story" for their best work. There's not much in it for me. I love Tilbrook's voice, he sings like a boy and Difford's dirge vocal complements it well.

I bought all their albums up to "Babylon And On", and they're all good.

Great review of a great band. If you pinned me down to one song that defines them I would pick
"Is That Love"

 
At 10/04/2006 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

TENACIOUS S: Then that must have been a great year. I've never grown tired of them.

BEN: "Is That Love" may be my favorite, too ... and "Black Coffee in Bed" (for obvious play-on-words reasons). I bought up through Some Fantastic Place, and I may have Domino. My CD was signed post-Holland (dammit; love his show), but Steve Nieve was touring with them and signed it. Glenn Tilbrook performed in town about a year ago, but a friend talked me into seeing Patti Griffin that night. Still kicking myself ...

 
At 10/04/2006 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Ben Heller said...

There's an American band that remind me of Squeeze and they made a splash in the UK in the early 90's.

Jellyfish and their album "Bellybutton" will be in my top 150 for certain.

I love "Black Coffee In Bed" and "Tempted" from around the same time. The one I didn't like (but everyone else loves) is "Labelled With Love". I thought Country didn't suit their style but it was brave nonetheless.

 
At 10/04/2006 12:47:00 PM, Blogger justacoolcat said...

Pulling Mussels From the Shell . . .Pulling Mussels From the Shell

I'll get that song stuck in my head sometimes and I didn't know who wrote it or if that was even the name or words.

I'm glad it's the words and that I now know who is responsible.

 
At 10/04/2006 12:49:00 PM, Blogger justacoolcat said...

Ben - Jellyfish reminds me way more of Queen. In my opinion their album Spilt Milk is their best and a top 100 American rock album.

 
At 10/04/2006 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

Thought the Squeezers were OK but never in the same league with the other "new wave" folks such as Elvis Costello. And certainly not too Beatlesque.

But I did pull one out and give it a listen and was taken back to college for a time this morning.

So thanks for the memories.

 
At 10/04/2006 01:36:00 PM, Blogger barista brat said...

ok - so you convinced me to skip on the "best of squeeze" cd and buy their individual albums instead.

 
At 10/04/2006 01:43:00 PM, Blogger mellowlee said...

That is VERY happy music! One of my favorite things about blogging is the discovery of new music, books, movies, etc. (well new to me anyways). I love Costello and Jackson, and now I love the Squeeze too. Thanks Beth
(btw, You also introduced me to the music of Jeff Buckley as well, and for that you deserve a HUG!) :)

 
At 10/04/2006 02:01:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BEN: I haven't thought about Jellyfish in ages; I'll have to pull out my CD tonight. Good call.

JUSTACOOLCAT: Hope that neverending "Pulling Mussels" in your head is a good one for you. Love that song.

KEITH: I intentionally listed those three because they're so different, and yet so Brit New Wave. I'll tackle Joe Jackson soon.

BRAT: You'll enjoy them.

MELLOWLEE: I'm thrilled that I introduced you to Jeff Buckley. Amazing, wasn't he?

 
At 10/04/2006 04:48:00 PM, Blogger sKincarver said...

I still have their first album on vinyl. I'm old like that...but I think it's called retro now.
They were a lot more punk then.
"Bang Bang" & "Take Me I'm Yours" are killer songs.

 
At 10/04/2006 04:51:00 PM, Blogger mellowlee said...

Heartbreakingly so! I loved the video you posted "So Real"

 
At 10/04/2006 05:12:00 PM, Blogger OnMyWatch said...

Black Coffee was my favorite of theirs. I liked them a lot.

As far as pulling mussels goes, a friend and I used to sing Pulling Mussels from Michelle (a girl we didn't like so much)

:)

 
At 10/04/2006 05:26:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BEN (belatedly): I agree with you on "Labeled with Love." Leave country to the Yanks.

SKINCARVER: I have Squeeze's first seven or eight still on vinyl ... and I think my U.K. Squeeze is on pink vinyl. Now I can't stop humming "Take Me I'm Yours."

MELLOWLEE: Isn't that a wonderful video? And wasn't he beautiful? That song rips my heart out every time I hear it ... an average of once a day, by the way.

ONMYWATCH: Now I'm gonna be singing "Pulling Mussels from Michelle." I can't stand the piece of trash named that at my office

 
At 10/04/2006 07:02:00 PM, Blogger mellowlee said...

He really was beautiful. I've been listening to it daily in my newest playlist :)

 
At 10/04/2006 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

I've got their Singles 45s and Under cd and love it Beth. It keeps me happy when I'm listening too and am glad you're in your happy place.

You've mentioned a few I don't have so I'll be listening and looking for them shortly.

 
At 10/04/2006 10:42:00 PM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

I got to see Squeeze in 1987(?) in Miami. It was well after they had disolved as a band and were reuniting for one last tour -- or something. It's all very hazy.

 
At 10/04/2006 11:29:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

MELLOWLEE: I'm glad I converted you. I'll have to think of similar artists for you.

DALE: I should send you copies of the three great CDs. Do you MP3?

DJ CAYENNE: Ah, yeah, the hazy concert syndrome. So much fun at the moment ... so far from our memory banks when we wake up the next day. I saw that tour, too ... but I stayed sober. I'm weird that way when it's one of the beloved bands.

 
At 10/05/2006 01:15:00 AM, Blogger Bubs said...

Beth, you bring back good memories! We saw Elvis Costello at the Uptown Theater in Chicago back in 1982, I think it was when Trust came out, and Squeeze was the opening act.

 
At 10/05/2006 06:35:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

Omigod, Bubs; what a great show that would have been! Jealous here ...

 
At 10/05/2006 07:39:00 AM, Anonymous DJ Cayenne said...

Beth, I don't think that it was a drunken haze that made that concert hazy. Although, it's possible. It may be old age. I remember being vaguely disappointed in the show. Maybe I'm blocking that part out.

 
At 10/07/2006 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Coaster Punchman said...

I should have put "Black Coffee in Bed" on my 40 at 40.

CP

 
At 10/09/2006 07:00:00 AM, Blogger PinkFluffySlippers said...

I had a phase of listening to practically nothing but Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and the Boomtown Rats. Good musical memories there.

 
At 4/25/2007 01:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Some Fantastic place" is the quintessential Squeeze album. Love Glen Tillbrook too
See him solo - superb

Fishmiester

 
At 6/14/2007 01:35:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

I know I'm responding to this late, but I just found it searching for Tilbrook on your blog. I thought perhaps you had a review of the show you saw, but this ode to Squeeze will do nicely. I saw Tilbrook live in December (I DO have a review on my blog - nyah!) and I was totally psyched to meet him and then I chickened out. Those old crushes die hard, let me tell ya.

"Another Nail for my Heart" is my favorite Squeeze song...even though it always bothered me how sometimes it's referred to as "for my heart" and sometimes "in my heart." I think the original was written down as "in" but he's clearly singing "for" so I stick with the words coming out of Glenn's lovely mouth. :)

 
At 10/27/2008 04:01:00 PM, Anonymous getmejeff said...

FYI: the Costello/Squeeze show at the Uptown Theatre in Chicago was mid-January 1981.I believe it fell between Get Happy and Trust for Elvis. Squeeze was still riding Argybargy and prepping East Side Story.

 

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