1) Take Me
GLENN: This song we had originally recorded for RCA in 1976 but
they dropped us without releasing it. When we had finished doing the first
album for A&M they couldn't hear a single, so, with the lovely John
Wood at the helm, we had a day in the studio to come up with something.
We hired lots of synths and a bloke who knew how to work them and pretended
to be Kraftwerk.
CHRIS: Visions of Lawrence of Arabia at the Lewisham Odeon and tour buses
coming over the hill en route for another city and another show. Today
Deptford, Tomorrow the World the shirts used to say.
GLENN: Different from the album version, this highlights the wilder
side of the band that was to become increasingly submerged under the direction
of our writing.
CHRIS: My tongue stuck out as far as the photographs and all I could do
was dream of being in some fashionable band with high collars and skinny
legs. Dreaming is what songwriting is often all about.
GLENN: From Cool For Cats which was our first proper pop
record, a song about a fading attraction distinguished by Jools' fine synth
CHRIS: The theatre world seemed to be of another class, all I could do
was to observe it from the end of my pencil.
GLENN: A single we were convinced would top the charts and become
a regular Christmas-time classic. Not a lot of people agreed though.
CHRIS: We had high hopes for this song, a hit every year even, but none
of that was to be. If Slade could do it then why couldn't we?
GLENN: From the first version of the Cool For Cats album
which was rejected by A&M, this unreleased track highlights Gilson's
left-field approach, with the added bonus of Squeeze going Disco in the
CHRIS: War magazines were big currency in our school, I was seldom short
of a good read. What did your Dad do in the war?
GLENN: A staple of our early live shows. I was never quite sure
why this didn't make it onto an album. This song (along with "Take
Me I'm Yours") is conclusive proof that we were at the forefront of
second wave use of the Mellotron.
CHRIS: What on earth were we doing and going on about. It was great fun
though and it kept us off the streets.
7) The Knack
GLENN: Second only to 'The new Lennon & McCartney', one phrase
that has dogged us throughout our career has been 'Kitchen Sink Drama'.
"The Knack" is not one of those.
CHRIS: Damon Runyan stories inspired this song. Playing the number live
at the Ha Ra Club in New York was a big moment for me. Glenn fingered the
minimoog off to one side as Gilson pounded on the drums, and Bentley plucked
away on the bass with all the pose of Basil Brush.
8) If I
Didn't Love You
GLENN: Substituted for "Labelled with Love" on the US
release of Singles-45's and Under, this song from Argybargy
was musically influenced by Talking Heads and won us a few friends over
CHRIS: Singles remind me of kisses, albums remind me of plans... "Something/Anything"
by Todd Rundgren did the trick for me, a low arm around the neck followed
by the tremble in the right leg. Cunning and romantic in my early years
as Mr. Suave.
GLENN: If anyone has come close to the couplet "Her mother
didn't like me, she thought I was on drugs/My mother didn't like her, she'd
never peel the spuds", I'd like to know about it.
CHRIS: "Up the Junction" is my favourite lyric from the Cool
For Cats album.
10) I Think
I'm Go Go
GLENN: Probably our first "on the road" song inspired
by a week when we played London, Amsterdam and New York. Getting used to
touring is enough to inspire bemusement in anybody and we were no exception.
Featuring an inspired string arrangement by Del Newman, who was to provide
many fine arrangements for us over the next few years.
CHRIS: Del Newman loved to wear Icelandic boots to the studio, he was larger
than life to me at the time and as cool as they came with a baton.
11) What the
GLENN: Also featuring strings by Del Newman, this track was bumped
off Argybargy at the insistence of Miles Copeland, who said it was
too Barry Manilow. Who am I to argue with him?
CHRIS: Musical management at its best, where chords greet lyrics with understanding
and melody lines charm rhyme from the page.
GLENN: East Side Story heralded our brief period of being
cool, which wasn't something that sat well on my shoulders no matter how
much of a relief it was to get a good review or two. Favourite line? Difficult
- but "the cab took us home through a night I'd not noticed/the neon
club lights of Adult Films and Trini Lopez" has to take the biscuit.
Paul Carrack's piano gives the song a wonderful lilt.
CHRIS: Working with Elvis (Costello) was a huge inspiration for me, he
lit my fire every day with his passion and dedication to our songs. "Piccadilly"
was written on a napkin in a pub, where I spent most of writing days around
this time. I used to love writing in pubs, funny that.
GLENN: During which we all had a chortle by parodying Adam and the
Ants with no malice aforethought.
CHRIS: I was one of the ants for a day, what a busy life.
GLENN: This version, done and dusted by Dave Edmunds, just goes
to show how lucky we were when Elvis got Paul to sing our revised backing
track. ELO on a bad day.
CHRIS: "Tempted" was written in a cab on the way to Heathrow,
I just wrote down what I saw and how I felt as we wormed our way through
the traffic. I also must have anticipated a good time on tour as the chorus
GLENN: Perhaps fed up with the sexist accusations that were sometimes
levelled at his lyrics, Chris put his shoes on the other way and came up
with this. I, like many before and after me, pretended to be Ray Davies.
CHRIS: A theme I traced over and copied a few times on other albums. "A
Man For All Seasons" springs to mind from Difford & Tilbrook.
I flew the feminist flag from a very masculine pole on many occasions,
recently on "Great Escape" from Ridiculous.
On Forty Fab
GLENN: The "Stars on 45" series of records that came out
in the early eighties inspired me to wonder if we could be so insensitive
to our own songs. Tucked away as a B-side, the joke backfired and started
picking up airplay which helped "Labelled With Love" achieve
its high chart position.
CHRIS: The A side was indeed 'Labelled With Love". A lyric I feel
very proud of, a lyric that tells a story I didn't know I could tell.
The Elephant Ride
GLENN: With Sweets From a Stranger came, for the first time,
the disappointment of making an album not as good as the last one. It did,
however, have some individual moments that I'm very proud of. This song
has both a sense of satisfaction and an air of melancholy that we have
rarely equalled since.
CHRIS: It's Sunday morning, it's black coffee in bed, the afterglow of
love is fragrantly hanging in the bedroom air. The best version of this
song was done by Aimee Mann on a tour we did together a few years ago,
her harmony with Glenn was as close as they ever get to being heart wrenching.
Like a Knife
GLENN: Working class lad mixes with the upper crust and comes a
cropper. With a tune inspired by Marc Bolan.
CHRIS: This could only be an album track, like so much of this last album
before the breakup, the power had been reduced by too much touring, the
go had gone from the team, along with the marbles.
House Her Home
GLENN: A real harpsichord played by John Savannah (formerly known
as Don Snow) propels this song sung in a register rarely used by Chris.
I'm sure for years after he thought that, by adding my encouragement, I'd
played a cruel trick on him.
CHRIS: Adultery in all its glory, the milkman on his round and the lady
with the extra gold top on Sundays. And me in tight jeans trying to be
Peter Noone with my voice.
the Hangover Strikes
GLENN: My favourite track from the Sweets From a Stranger
album. This parody of a torch song falls on the right side of acceptability.
The guitar solo is a tip of the hat to Amos Garrett, who inspired me to
a rare level of understatement.
CHRIS: Alcohol runs like a river through a lot of my lyrics, but none quite
as crystal clear as these. Helped along lovingly by the pwerful gliding
tension of Glenn's music. The saving grace from Sweets From a Stranger.
Tony Bennett, this one's for you.
21) The Apple
GLENN: From the beginning of our navel-gazing period, this song
was later covered by Elaine Paige.
CHRIS: Dark as you like and musically Freudian for its time. The apple
tree in question still grows in my grandmother's garden.
These Walls of Without You
GLENN: Featuring the first appearance of Keith Wilkinson plus the
debut of Steve Nieve with us, this B-side was tossed off with a lack of
effort that could have benefitted much of the Difford & Tilbrook
CHRIS: I always dreamt of having Steve Nieve in the band, his flair and
insomniac behaviour inspired me very much in those days. Some weeks we
never slept a wink. It was a great day's recording.
My Mind Tonight
GLENN: Guy Fletcher, who played keyboards, came up with the great
scat singing part in the middle section. I was at this time embarking on
a 3 year period of smoking too much dope and not having a lot on my mind.
CHRIS: Written while babysitting with my nose firmly set in a packet of
chewing gum. The words describe the night as it happened for meand I can
see it now as I type, clear as mud.
GLENN: Was written by pretending to be the Temptations.
CHRIS: Chord changes to make your knees knock and your hair stand on end,
this could be a huge hit with some love and care.
25) No Place
GLENN: Domestic disharmony meets the kitchen sink and comes out
fighting in what I think is a spirited song from the sluggish Cosi Fan
CHRIS: Kitchen sinks, I was tied to them. "Suds" they called
What Have They Done?
GLENN: Recorded in the interim between Cosi Fan and Babylon
and On for the soundtrack of When the Wind Blows, this was a
bit of a watershed for us in that it largely determined the direction for
the next album - ie: let's all play together in the studio and enjoy it.
CHRIS: A boyish lyric that comes from that part of me that is South London
and always will be.
GLENN: T-Bone Wolk's accordion part was the cheese on my toast in
this song that has one of my favourite of Chris' lyrics.
CHRIS: Gilson inspired this lyric from something he said on the tour bus.
I know now what he meant and how he felt. I love Gilson very much and will
always respect the amount of effort he put into the band.
GLENN: The demo for this song was very "When Doves Cry"
- just drum machine and vocals. Eric Thorngren and Chris worked long and
hard on this to turn it into something useable and Monique Dyan came up
with the other vocal part that propelled it from a possible to a definite.
CHRIS: More cigarettes and kettles. "Hourglass" was on this album
(Babylon and On) too, a big hit for us in America. It made the top
twenty and we were back in Madison Square Gardens again, we were in smart
suits and looking great for the first time in our career. We were top twenty
GLENN: From Frank, one of my favourite moments from the end
of mid-period Squeeze. Jools' piano solo on this is nothing short of genius.
CHRIS: Amazing piano solo from our Jools who was in the middle of being
David Frost, flying back and forth across the pond during tours of the
States and recording TV shows in Newcastle. Peyton Place is in Greenwich,
next to the police station.
30) Dr. Jazz
GLENN: Speaking of the little feller, Jools' song had been in our
act for a few years by the time we got around to recording it. This take
was all live except for the backing vocals.
CHRIS: It was always good to have a song by Jools on an album, I don't
think the spotlight stayed on him long enough to keep him in the band though.
GLENN: Lyrically speaking a distant half-cousin of "The Knack",
in that it's another slice of Americana. Musically, it's Dolly Parton with
James Burton on guitar.
CHRIS: Sam Shepard meets Danny Baker. How did Glenn ever get used to cramming
so many of my words into our songs in the way he did? I take my hat off
to him with this one in particular.
Gutted and Heartbroken
GLENN: I had a hand in the original chorus lyric which ended "Oh
my dear as Gilbert said, Alone again naturally". I thought Chris had
the right idea by changing it.
CHRIS: My vocal balanced on a knife edge above a very large pot of embarrassment.
Vocal confidence has never been one of my strengths.
GLENN: Our most requested B-side. The relaxed mandolin and acoustics
bring to mind a lost Mungo Jerry track.
CHRIS: More wonderful Nieve playing on a song that should have seen more
light than it has done over the years.
House of Love
GLENN: I like songs that are musically a bit queasy. The barking
mad keyboard by Steve Nieve and the 18 million chord changes produce this
effect for me. From the Play album, which marked the beginning of
our renaissance period.
CHRIS: I never liked this one very much and fought to keep it off the album
but lost the argument. The album lacked pace so it stayed on. That's the
joy of being in partnership, you win some and you lose some. And then some.
35) The Truth
GLENN: A top guitar line from producer Tony Berg cemented this into
my all time top ten. This was a song that went all around the house from
hard rockin' "Band on the Run"-period Wings before finding its
natural home. One of our best.
CHRIS: I cried when I heard the final mix of this song, it blew me away.
"The Truth" is a warm and honest lyric coming from the heart
of a mixed-up chap.
GLENN: Lovingly crafted and super shiny, this is the acceptable
face of our eccentricty. Another one in my top ten.
CHRIS: These chord changes will knock you dead once you learn to play them.
Mixed together with the beautiful melody and spine chilling vocal, you
could not ask for much else in a day's work. Playing this live recently
on our acoustic tour, I realized how great Glenn's voice can be, tender
and very powerful.
GLENN: It was Pete Thomas who spotted that this was a "Beat
Group" song. Once that penny had dropped, the rest fell into place.
Thanks to the chap from the Levellers who lent me his Balalaika which featured
in the chorus.
CHRIS: Pete Thomas, another dream come true.
GLENN: The very welcome return of Paul Carrack gave us a chance
to get him to sing for us again.
CHRIS: Written in the car on the way home from the studio one night, it
wrote itself word for word. Paul brings it to life each time I hear it
being sung. What a great voice. The road in question was the A268 in Kent.
GLENN: A tune that started out very complicated, we chipped and
chipped away at it until we had this model of simplicity. Chris' lyric
CHRIS: I wrote this sitting in a pew at St. Margaret's church in Rye one
Monday night, the rain fell outside and the music played in my head from
a backing track Glenn provided that day. The vocal on this track has everything
a lyric could want - passion, sympathy, and understanding.
40) Some Fantastic
GLENN: My favourite Squeeze song is also the most personal that
we have ever written. About an old friend of mine and Chris' who succumbed
to leukemia. Chris gave me the lyric without saying anything and the tune
CHRIS: Maxine showed me that I could change my life if I wanted to, she
showed me that change is a good thing and nothing to be afraid of. Before
she died we sat in her garden and took tea one afternoon. She told me how
I could get my house in order and I felt very humbled. Her words rung in
my head like cathedral bells and very soon I would hear what she was saying.
Without her there would be no Glenn and without her this album would not
have existed. "Some Fantastic Place" is the finest song we have
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