by Eric Chappe
There have been quite a few changes in the Squeeze camp since we last
heard from them. First, the group's unofficial business alliance with F-Beat
Record head (and Elvis Costello manager) Jack Riviera (sic) has finally
been made official - as Squeeze said goodbye to Miles Copeland. Then of
course, there was the departure of the group's flamboyant keyboard player
Jools Holland and his replacement Paul Carrack - once of Ace and composed
of the hit "How Long." And finally, the arrival of the long-awaited fourth
album East Side Story.
Contributed by Debra A. Goetschius
With each LP Squeeze's popularity and sales seem to creep up another
few notches. The complex vignettes and witty lyrics of Chris Difford often
blend seamlessly with the music of Glen Tilbrook (sic). And with these
two gents you can always expect the cards to be laid on the table. Squeeze
has little room for obscure imagery in its songs.
Still, when it comes to love songs these can often contain little twists
like those in "Is That Love." Chris Difford's eye for detail can make a
song seem like an incident that took place in your own living room. Yet
strangely enough, Squeeze sounds a little more sombre on parts of East
Side Story than they have in the past. On side one we find both the
sad Beatle-esque lament "There's No Tomorrow" and a description of love's
infidelities in "Tempted."
Still, the sudden shifts in mood only serve to highlight the quality
of so many of the tracks on this LP. And even if the immediately apparent
rampant good feelings of Argy Bargy cannot be felt on initial playings,
the diversity and character of East Side Story will prove equally
rewarding upon further inspection.
The most unusual track on the album is "F-Hole." Its complex string
arrangement goes against the grain of the song's basic thrust. The uphill
battle of Glen Tilbrook's (sic) vocal against the music itself works well
enough to make this one of Squeeze's most successful experiments. Heading
directly into the straightforward country ballad "Labelled With Love" is
almost the cause for shell shock. But this sad drinker's tale of unrequited
love merely illustrates the ability of Squeeze to adapt themselves to any
musical form they find appropriate.
In fact, it's the very diversity of this album that helps to define
the talents of Squeeze. With fourteen tracks to take in there's an embarrassment
of riches to be found here. East Side Story should ideally take
Squeeze more than those few notches closer to that elusive wide-scale success
they've long deserved.
In the early 90s, "East Side Story" was re-released
in the UK on cassette with "Cool For Cats" on the other side. The following
is a review of that package.
Rating: **** (out of 5)
Reviewed by Colin Shearman.
Squeeze were always a particularly English group. Sandwiched chronologically
between Ray Davies and Morrissey, but a social rung lower than both in
their songwriting concerns. They similarly rejected Americana in favour
of telling vignettes of English working-class life. They were never that
successful as an albums group but Cool For Cats and the slightly
more musically adventurous East Side Story (co-produced by Elvis
Costello) nonetheless contain seven of their best singles including Up
The Junction with its typically clever rhymes (Stanley/handy) and other
tales from the Deptford sex wars like Slap And Tickle, Goodbye Girl and
Is That Love?. Difford & Tilbrook may now privately regret some of
the sexist language in their material but they still sum up a time, place
and attitude as well as any other British songwriters.
A bit later in the early 90s, "East Side Story"
and "Babylon and On" were issued in the UK as a special 2 CD budget package.
The following is a review of that.
Rating: *** (out of 5)
Review by Stuart Maconie.
Though ostensibly inexplicable, Squeeze fans will automatically cotton
on to the rationale behind lumping these two records together in one CD.
It's a nod to the singles market since both albums contain the only sizable
chart hits the band had in the '80s. 1981's East Side Story, co-produced
by Roger Bechirian and Elvis Costello, came hot on the heels of 1980s highly
successful Argy Bargy and was similarly well-received. The voice
of newly-appointed Paul Carrack added a rough-hewn attractiveness to the
Difford-Tilbrook blueprint, particularly on the single Tempted, and the
songs are typically well-crafted new wave romanticism with characteristic
bite. Six years later and Babylon And On had less to recommend it
in truth, though Tough Love is the kind of classic-in-waiting the band
excelled in and the geeky hit Hourglass propelled the band briefly back
into the public eye. So, a repackaging job not without honour, although
fans will surely have these anyway, and the lack of sleeve information
by Steven X. Rea, High Fidelity, August 1981
"East Side Story" is like a bolt from the blue.
Song after song on the fourth LP by this British quintet boggles the mind,
delights the ears, sends shivers up and down the spine, gives rise to goose
bumps. As good as last year's bubbly "Argybargy" was, this time songwriters
Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook have outdone themselves. Ably assisted
by producers Roger Bechirian and Elvis Costello (and Dave Edmunds on "In
Quintessence"), Squeeze delivers a dizzying collection of smart, sharp,
poignant musical pictures, making "East Side Story" easily the best pop
album to emerge out of the post-punk scene.
Where the group's previous outings sped by in a manic,
frantic rush, rife with cocky rhyming couplets, crashing guitars, and pulsating
rythms, this one takes its cool, quiet time achieving its goals. One gets
the feeling that Costello had something to do with this. The pages he tore
from the Tamla/Motown book, the George Jones book, and the Beatles book
have been handed over to Messrs Difford, Tilbrook, et al. Tilbrook's marvelous
Beatle-whine is used to the hilt, often in tandem with Difford's throaty
vocals. An added surprise is newcomer Paul Carrack, the former keyboard
player for Ace, whose harmonies lend a new resonance to the Squeeze sound.
He also sings the lead vocal on "Tempted", a bluesy, Booker T.-meets-early-Jackie
Lomax soul shouter that boasts a few gruff murmurs from Costello.
Squeeze's use of Beatle's riffs has never been more blatant
or more bouyant than on "East Side Story". "There's No Tommorrow" basks
in a psychedelic glow right out of "Here Comes the Sun" and fades in "Revolver"-style
sound effects. "Is That Love" is early Fab Four- harmonies, guitar breaks,
and all. "Someone Else's Bell" recalls George Harrison's "Savoy Truffle",
while "Woman's World" and "Vanity Fair" strike at the heart of English
middle-class life as touchingly and as vividly as "Eleanor Rigby".
But the boys are anything but Beatle mimics. Their lyrics
are keen, precise, funny, and sad. Their songs are about lovers, drunks,
deadbeats, and lonely working girls. "F-Hole" is an ominous social commentary
that surges with dirge-like intensity behind Gilson Lavis' drumming; "Mumbo
Jumbo" is a spirited, nonsensical flight of frivolty; "Piccadilly" is a
wry story of fumbling teenagers on a first date; an American country-style
ballad, "Labelled with Love", is a scary, heartrending sketch of a woman
who is left with just her memories and her Scotch. It's simply hard to
imagine that this band could get any better than it already is on this
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