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U.K. Squeeze

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Album Review

It's hard to envision a scenario more nightmarish than the one that faced Squeeze when they headed into the studio to record their first album. Armed with a promising debut EP called Packet of Three, Squeeze signed with A&M and teamed the group with underground star John Cale, who helmed debuts by the Stooges and the Modern Lovers and would seemingly be a good fit as a producer (not to mention that the band took its name from Squeeze, the final album by Cale's Velvet Underground, albeit an album recorded long after he and Lou Reed had both left the band). He was anything but. Cale terrorized Squeeze, throwing out all of their existing material and insisting that they write new music on the spot, preferably songs that followed his half-baked idea of positioning the group as a bunch of "Gay Guys," after his suggested title for the album. Despite the bodybuilder on the cover — the one who presumably represents the bodybuilder on "Strong in Reason" — and a very healthy dose of sex in the lyrics, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook didn't steer the band in that direction, but did push Squeeze to a tense, chaotic sound that brought them closer to punk than perhaps they actually were. Often, it's hard not to read that coiled nervous energy as a reaction to the impossible situation they were trapped within — sometimes, this was to their benefit, as it gives "Sex Master" some true menace and invigorates the Motown bass bounce of "Remember What," but it also results in the band knocking out atonal, assaultive jumbles like "The Call" and the self-consciously strange instrumental "Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil," both seemingly written to impress John Cale. They may have impressed Cale, but not A&M, who opted to add two Squeeze-produced tracks to the final album: the frenetic "Bang Bang" and "Take Me I'm Yours." Tellingly, these were the two songs here that truly hinted in the tight, sharp, and tuneful direction that they would soon follow and, not so coincidentally, they were the two singles pulled from the record.

Customer Reviews

Hold out...

Squeeze themselves have said this record wasn't really them. John Cale directed much of the performances and the band wasn't fully able to have any creative control. There are of course several classics here which can be found on compilations of their greatest hits records. "Sex Master", "Take Me I'm Yours, "Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil" and "Model" are probably the only songs here worth hearing. Cool For Cats, the bands second album, is more of a first album than U.K. Save your money.


Formed: 1974

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '10s

As one of the most traditional pop bands of the new wave, Squeeze provided one of the links between classic British guitar pop and post-punk. Inspired heavily by the Beatles and the Kinks, Squeeze was the vehicle for the songwriting of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, who were hailed as the heirs to Lennon and McCartney's throne during their heyday in the early '80s. Unlike Lennon and McCartney, the partnership between Difford and Tilbrook was a genuine collaboration, with the former writing the...
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