Younger readers might not have heard of Squeeze, famous for hits such as Up The Junction and Cool for Cats; witty, insightful lyrics coupled with catchy pop tunes. In latter years they’ve reformed and toured but not achieved the same status as Madness or even some of the 2-Tone bands still touring. It was never party music.
Their last album showed they were still at the top of the game, the music for Danny Baker’s Cradle To The Grave television series. This album is not as good, musically. We assume the quality control supplied by writing for someone else was lacking. The lyrics are as good as ever, mind.
Openers Innocence In Paradise and Patchouli are reminisces of youth and reflections on aging (as is much of the album): “Some days I wonder what I’m doing / I sit and think too much sometimes / I waste the hours God has sent me / Drifting like this …” goes Patchouli.
A&E shows the band still has bite. The band famously appeared on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show with fellow guest then-PM David Cameron and changed the lyrics of Cradle to the Grave, to include the line: “There are some here who are hell bent / On the destruction of the welfare state”; perhaps they’re hoping to play A&E in front of Theresa May, with the lyrics including a tribute to nurses: “The nurses looked completely drained / But nice as pie and so composed” before adding: “I’m no politician / but I can see something’s wrong / Would it hurt so much / to give them more”. Rough Ride tackles the housing crisis.
The rather sad Final Score addresses the question of child abuse in sports, opening with jumpers-for-goalposts type reminiscing before addressing boys dreaming of superstardom and the coach telling them: “You’ve got to do what I say.”
Elsewhere, Every Story seems to say that everyone has their hopes and dreams (“scratch cards and dreaming of houses in the sun / reality of Monday is not so much fun”). Departure Lounge has a Beatles-esque intro before talking about how “old boys / sit and look into the distance / I never know what they’re thinking” and wondering if the old boys who “can feel gravity calling from beneath us” “can find the peace I’m lacking.”
Please Be Upstanding addresses another age-related failing (for men at least).
Great as the lyrics are, the music doesn’t hit the spot. It’s beautifully arranged and there’s a lot of it, but the outcome is less than the sum of the parts. They seem to have focused on getting all the parts right without thinking of the final melody.
Still, they probably do all right playing to their devoted fans, and the main aim of this album is to get the songs out, so their audiences know the words.
They ask people with 99p spare to spend it on Streets of London by Ralph McTell, the Crisis Choir and Annie Lennox. All proceeds to crisis UK