"east side story": reviews  

Relix Magazine 
August 1981 
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

    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.

Contributed by Debra A. Goetschius  


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. 

Q Magazine 
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. 

Q Magazine. 
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 is diabolical. 

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 fourteen-track album. 


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