PACKET OF THREE

There is a possibility, based on trying to respond positively to requests/suggestions from readers, that I will turn my attention to the singles released over the years by Squeeze. It’s not on the immediate horizon but then again, given that I’m increasingly finding it difficult to come up with fresh ideas, it might well be that the blog ends up with more than the current one singles series in a given week before too long.

Squeeze had come together as early as 1974 when a then 17-year old Chris Difford put an advert in the window of a local newsagent shop in Deptford in the working class and highly unfashionable south-east of London that was responded to by a local 20-year old named Glen Tilbrook. They bonded quickly, writing songs together, and soon they were seeking other musicians to in the hope and expectation of forming a performing and recording combo. Some musicians did initially come and go, but the line-up was eventually completed by Julian Holland (keyboards), Harry Kakoulli (bass) and Gilson Lavis (drums).

Like many other bands of that pre-punk era, Squeeze made their name and living via the pub circuit that dominated much of the music scene across the UK, particularly in the major cities. They were picked up by Miles Copeland III, a 30-year old American who had relocated to London with a determination to somehow to break into the music industry. Copeland had established an agency and label called BTM (British Talent Management) but it went bust in 1976 after a series of loss-making shows and festivals, leaving many of their acts, including Squeeze, high and dry but freely available.

The band cobbled together money to record an EP and release it in May 1977 on the Deptford City Label. It was produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground whom Copeland had introduced to them. It’s fair to say that the outcome was quite basic, almost elementary in nature; it’s nowhere near good enough to include it as part of the ‘cracking debut’ regular feature on this blog:-

mp3 : Squeeze – Cat On A Wall
mp3 : Squeeze – Night Ride
mp3 : Squeeze – Back Track

Having said that, the Packet of Three EP, from July 1977, did pique enough interest in the group to generate some A&R follow-up, particularly in the live setting with the band seemingly an ever-present in the many small, noisy and smoky pubs of their local community and further afield across London, and they were still being championed by Copeland. In due course, Squeeze would be signed by A&M Records in 1978 for whom they would deliver a string of successful singles and albums over the next decade.

JC

BONUS POST : SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter Three)

A GUEST POSTING by WALTER

http://afewgoodtimesinmylife.blogspot.co.uk/

Hi Jim,

For long times I didn’t gave you a guest contribution and now there are two in row. For me, I always liked songs that told me a story and so your new series pleases me. There are a lot of songs that explaine in a few words what is life about. One of them I love most is by Squeeze – Up The Junction. Nothing more or less a short story about a simple love affair and what could happen. It doesn’t end in an happy end. For me it is a story many people could understand and probably feel about what happened to the main charactor in this song. It is not a depressive song but one of the best stories about what can happen at the kitchen sink. All in all a simple and true song about life.

I never thought it would happen
With me and the girl from Clapham
Out on the windy common
That night I ain’t forgotten
When she dealt out the rations
With some or other passions
I said “you are a lady”
“Perhaps” she said. “I may be”

We moved in to a basement
With thoughts of our engagement
We stayed in by the telly
Although the room was smelly
We spent our time just kissing
The Railway Arms we’re missing
But love had got us hooked up
And all our time it took up

I got a job with Stanley
He said I’d come in handy
And started me on Monday
So I had a bath on Sunday
I worked eleven hours
And bought the girl some flowers
She said she’d seen a doctor
And nothing now could stop her

I worked all through the winter
The weather brass and bitter
I put away a tenner
Each week to make her better
And when the time was ready
We had to sell the telly
Late evenings by the fire
With little kicks inside her

This morning at four fifty
I took her rather nifty
Down to an incubator
Where thirty minutes later
She gave birth to a daughter
Within a year a walker
She looked just like her mother
If there could be another

And now she’s two years older
Her mother’s with a soldier
She left me when my drinking
Became a proper stinging
The devil came and took me
From bar to street to bookie
No more nights by the telly
No more nights nappies smelling

Alone here in the kitchen
I feel there’s something missing
I’d beg for some forgiveness
But begging’s not my business
And she won’t write a letter
Although I always tell her
And so it’s my assumption
I’m really up the junction

mp3 : Squeeze – Up The Junction

WALTER

THIS ONE’S FOR JOHNNY BOTTOMS

The day is drawing ever closer when our dear friend Jonny the Friendly Lawyer (JTFL) aka Johnny Bottoms, the country bassist, will cross the Atlantic with his fellow Ponderosa Aces to begin the tour of English cities and towns. I’m delighted to say that I’ve made arrangements to get myself down to the gig in Manchester on Sunday 23 April, and all being well I might get to hook up with another dear friend of this parish, the mighty Swiss Adam of Bagging Area fame.

If anyone cares to join us, then feel free to come along for the ride. To paraphrase one Adam Ant, country music is nothing to be scared of.

As evidenced by this #4 hit from October 1981:-

mp3 : Squeeze – Labelled With Love

A sad and melancholy single lifted from the excellent East Side Story LP, on which Elvis Costello did a sterling job in the producer’s chair, it was the band’s final ever entry into the Top 10. It’s a very fine example of a talented band, fronted by incredibly gifted songwriters, demonstrating that they can turn their hand to any genre.

The b-side was a bit of throwaway fun:-

mp3 : Squeeze – Squabs on 45

It’s a medley of earlier singles akin to what was a fad at the time in the UK where excerpts of hit songs, sometimes from one act but more often than not from a variety of artists, were spliced together as a 45. Very scarily, an act called Stars on 45 enjoyed four Top 20 hits in the UK in 1981/82 by employing such a technique. And yes, Squeeze were making a point about how awful these medley efforts were – everything reduced to one simple beat and rhythm.

Orange Juice also did something similar as a piss take for a Peel Session:-

mp3 : Orange Juice – Blokes on 45

JC

IT PROVED NOT TO BE MY THEME SONG

R-2184426-1304769446.jpeg

I once went on a chalet holiday with my mum, dad and brothers. It was in fact in 1979, just before my 16th birthday. A mate from school came along as well to keep me company as I was no doubt a really stroppy teenager.

I can tell you that I wasn’t able to go behind any chalet to make my holiday complete. I was just too shy. But I know my mate got lucky……

mp3 : Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)

This tribute to the joys of holiday sex only reached #44 in the UK Charts back in May 1980. For some reason or other this was one of the singles that didn’t get left behind when I did a moonlight flit in the mid 80s, so my limited edition red vinyl 7″ has a place in the cupboard. Here’s yer b-side:-

mp3 : Squeeze – What The Butler Saw

It wasn’t long after this that Squeeze suffered the departure of keyboardist Jools Holland as he went off to pursue a solo career, and although he rejoined the band in 1985, he again left to do other things in 1990. Whatever happened to him I wonder?

Incidentally, not long after said chalet holiday I lost touch with said mate as I went back to school into a 5th year while he decided to go and find a job.  I’m almost certain that his decision not to return to school was all down to the fact that he had now become a fully-developed man of the world….

A READER WRITES………

Squeeze-Last-Time-Forever-98156

Many thanks for your recent “Red Guitars” post; I´ve been looking for this for ages.

I also see you are into some “Squeeze” stuff. I got most of their compilation and best of CD´s
However none of them include the complete 12 inch version of
“Last Time Forever” (6:23) I wonder if you have it and if you could possible post it
someday or send it to my address. I´d really apprecate it.
Best regards
 
Ozzy
It isn’t the (in)famous singer who has asked for this 1985 ‘comeback’ single.  Squeeze had broken up in 1982 although main singer/songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook had collaborated on an LP released in 1984.   The other most famous member of the band had been keyboardist Jools Holland but he had left back in 1980 for a career as a solo musician and as TV presenter.
In 1985, following a one-off reunion of the classic Squeeze line-up (Difford, Tilbrook, Holland plus Gilson Lavis on drums and John Bentley on bass), for a charity gig, the band decided to reform. However, Bentley decided not to be part of it and was replaced by Keith Wilkinson.  The first fruits of their collective labour was the single Last Time Forever which, disappointingly for all concerned, stalled at #45. It was, trivia lovers, first aired on Jools Holland’s farewell appearance as a presenter on Channel 4’s The Tube/first official reappearance with the band (with his kid brother Christopher alongside him on additional keys)
The 12″ version of the song, like the album version, contains dialogue sampled from the film The Shining while the very strange b-side  consists of five separate songs, each approximately one minute in length, and each written, performed and produced by one of the band’s five members. In order, the songs are listed on the record sleeve and label as follows:A: Jools Holland – Rock ‘N Roll (That’s)
B: Gilson Lavis – Proxy Rock
C: Chris Difford – The Practising Clarinet
D: Glenn Tilbrook – Spideey Goes To Tobago
E: Keith Wilkinson – Who Wants To Be A Legionnaire?mp3 : Squeeze – Last Time Forever (12″ version)
mp3 : Squeeze – Suites From Five Strangers

Enjoy

HOW MEN ARE?

Up_the_junction_cover

A soap opera story in just over three minutes.

The boy about town gets caught out with his trousers down. He can’t cope with the fact that he has to grow up and take responsibility. The woman of his dreams soon moves on and all he has left are bittersweet memories.

mp3 : Squeeze – Up The Junction

1979. A massive hit and one of my favourite songs of all time, albeit as a 16-year old I didn’t quite understand the full nuances. But now I’m 51 and I’ve seen it this story play out in real life far too often over the years.

Tears and saying sorry are just not enough.

But the male side of the species just never learn.

MY FRIENDS ELECTRIC (19)

whos-afraid-of-the-art-of-noise-4fbb02f27df1f

Today’s Friend Electric is Uncle E. His blog is a real labour of love. It’s called 500 Reasons Why The 80s Didn’t Suck. He set out on this expedition back in September 2012:-

“Let’s for a moment forget about the poofy hair, Reagan and Thatcher and the threat of nuclear annihilation, parachute pants and Eddie Murphy movies. This blog will concern itself with the music of the decade, much of which was wonderful and groundbreaking, as opposed to popular thought which has skewed opinion to remember the 80’s as the worst decade EVER of popular music.

This blog will focus on dispelling that notion by highlighting 500 musical reasons why the ‘80’s categorically did not suck. I lived through the ‘80’s so I should know, and although I made some pretty terrible choices a good majority of the bands and albums remain relevant and enjoyable even today. I didn’t listen to top 40 radio then and I don’t now, so a lot of the stuff that was played back then on that medium won’t be a focus here. No, I’d like to attempt to point you in the direction left of the dial; those albums and bands that were played at underground clubs, the forgotten gems that took research and word of mouth to discover. Trial and error baby, trial and error. These were the days before the internet, kiddies, and when you found a cool band or an album back then you owned it and shared it with your peers. You poured over the latest issues of the NME and Melody Maker (imports for me, of course) and more often that not went by the style of the LP cover or gut impulse, or sometimes both.

The music I focused on back then was new wave, post punk and punk, genres that are really now just considered ‘alternative’. I remember making wildly weird and off-kilter mix tapes up the yin-yang, an art form that has sadly died out with the advent of file sharing and MP3’s. Gang Of Four sat comfortably next to New Order and The Cure, which segued into the Dead Kennedys, NOMEANSNO and Black Flag, followed by OMD, the Psychedelic Furs and early Simple Minds. The bands back then, the early ‘80’s, were trying everything out as there was no template. The Pistols and the Ramones and The Clash blew the old blueprint up a few years prior and these new upstarts, inspired by the DIY ethics of the former, created something totally fresh, totally weird and totally cool in the wake.

So.

I reckon there are at least 500 reasons I can give here why the music of the 1980’s didn’t suck, and I’ll be counting down from that number with the next post. It’s time to dispel the horribly misguided notion that the music from the 1980’s was the worst ever. I’m not quite sure it was the best, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. I hope you all chime in from time to time and give me your feedback. And while I consider myself fairly knowledgeable on the music of the ‘80’s I am certainly not arrogant enough to think I know it all. If there is a band or an album that you think I should know about, let me know in the comments section. If I can turn a few of you on to something then all the better.

Thanks for reading. We’re gonna have some fun! Also, as a side note: any of you who want to contribute via a guest post, I’d welcome it in a heartbeat. Just email me or leave a comment you’d like to do so and we’ll make it happen.”

The above words will, I’m sure, chime with many TVV readers – especially those sentences about mix tapes. Happy memories of spending at least 10 hours at a time trying to out the perfect 90 minutes together to help me get through the sheer awfulness and tedium of the daily Glasgow – Edinburgh commute.

Uncle E has counted down to reason 353. Most of his reasons are very sound although there will be a few which raise eyebrows with, for example, reason 421 featuring an LP by Queen. What is especially enjoyable is the succinct style on offer – just a few short sharp sentences to define what he believes makes a great record. Another bonus is the layout and indexing system so that if, for example, you click on New Order you will find they are responsible for reasons 492, 398, 394 and 371

Alongside the various reasons you will also enjoy some very well argued posts offering his thoughts, views and opinions on various aspects of music and musicians. Those of you who aren’t fond of U2 might enjoy his critique of the band. Just click here.

I agree with a lot but not all of the reasons outlined so far by Uncle E. I was looking for an excuse to feature this lot….so here’s reason #461 Why the 80s didn’t suck:-

argy

“Holy crap, was there a better pure pop band in the 1980′s than Squeeze? Me thinks not. I love everything they did up to East Side Story. Even the debut had it’s moments, and everything after fell apart. In the middle you have this little masterpiece, Squeeze’s strongest and most catchiest songs conveniently compiled on one little piece of plastic. Pulling Mussels, Another Nail In My Heart, If I Didn’t Love You, Vicky Verky, the list just goes on, man! If you track it down the ‘deluxe edition’ is really quite worth it for the concert alone, and the b-sides and other stuff is pretty essential as well. If all you have is the single disk “Singles” (which is fantastic, by the way), you’re cheating yourself out of some terrific tunes. Overall, the best album by Squeeze, no contest.”

mp3 : Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (From A Shell)
mp3 : Squeeze – Another Nail In My Heart
mp3 : Squeeze – If I Didn’t Love You
mp3 : Squeeze – Vicky Verky

Enjoy.