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Transatlantic Ping Pong

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Album Review

Splitting from longtime songwriting co-partner and musical partner in crime Chris Difford rejuvenated Glenn Tilbrook, leading to a good solo debut in 2001 with The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook and a subsequent never-ending tour that found the former Squeeze frontman playing seemingly anywhere and everywhere for a good three years. This constant activity pays off on 2004's Transatlantic Ping Pong, his second solo album and his best record in a long, long time. Simultaneously looser and more focused than Incomplete, Transatlantic finds Tilbrook returning to the hooky, direct power pop of the best Squeeze albums, but instead of sounding like a retread or a last grasp for glory, he sounds comfortable, as if he knows this is the sound that suits him best. Most important, it sounds like he's having fun, and that's the sentiment that rules the album. It's not just that the music is bright and catchy, the sound of a top pop tunesmith working at full strength; it's that the songs themselves are often larks. A few songs explore some regret over the past — most notably on "Hostage," where he meets up with a former lover/partner, and "Domestic Distortion," where he comes to grips with his adult child — but they're surrounded by songs filled with jokes. While some of those display the trademark dry wit of Squeeze, more often than not these are dirty, filthy jokes, like rewriting a country standard for "The Genitalia of a Fool" and turning on a disco beat for "Hot Shaved Asian Teens," which may not be any more vulgar than a typical spam e-mail, but certainly is a bit of a shock coming from Tilbrook. But that kind of boozy, good-time humor is evident not just in the words, but the raucous, full-bodied performances that make Transatlantic Ping Pong a joy on the sheer sonic level. Plus, those off-color jokes are tempered by the fine craftsmanship of songs like "Untouchable" and the bittersweet "Ray & Me," both of which are bolstered by the lively performances and recording, and the whole thing winds up as his most likable and alive record in quite some time.


Born: 31 August 1957 in Dulwich, London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Singer/composer Glenn Tilbrook teamed with lyricist/guitarist Chris Difford to lead Squeeze, one of the most acclaimed and longest-lived bands to emerge from the new wave era. Often regarded as the Lennon and McCartney of their generation, the duo's smart, sophisticated brand of pop never achieved commercial success commensurate with their critical favor, although singles like "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," "Tempted," and "Black Coffee in Bed" remain timeless cult classics. Born August 31, 1957,...
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Transatlantic Ping Pong, Glenn Tilbrook
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