Over a 25-year recording career with a cast of nearly as many members and a constant revolving door of record companies, “Squeeze…basically [became] a trade name for [the songwriting team of Chris] Difford and [Glenn] Tilbrook [the band’s only constants] plus sidemen.” NM In the beginning, Squeeze established themselves as “one of the most traditional pop bands of the new wave…[providing] one of the links between classic British guitar-pop and post-punk. Inspired heavily by the Beatles and the Kinks,” STE Difford and Tilbrook “were hailed as the heirs to Lennon and McCartney's throne during their heyday in the early '80s. Unlike Lennon and McCartney, the partnership betweeen Difford and Tilbrook was a genuine collaboration, with the former writing the lyrics and the latter providing the music. Squeeze never came close to matching the popularity of the Beatles, but the reason for that is part of their charm. Difford and Tilbrook were wry, subtle songwriters that subscribed to traditional pop songwriting values, but subverted them with literate lyrics and clever musical references. While their native Britain warmed to Squeeze immediately, sending singles like ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and ‘Up the Junction’ into the Top 10, the band had a difficult time gaining a foothold in the states; they didn't have a Top 40 hit until 1987, nearly a decade after their debut album…Squeeze [still] built a dedicated following…and many of their songs…‘Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),’ ‘Tempted,’ ‘Black Coffee in Bed’ – became pop classics of the new wave era.” STE
The Beginning (1974-78):
Squeeze began when “Tilbrook answered an advertisement Difford had placed in a store window, and the pair began writing songs. By the spring of 1974, the duo had recruited…Jools Holland…and…Paul Gunn, and…named themselves Squeeze, after the disowned Velvet Underground album that featured none of the group's original members. Squeeze began playing the thriving pub rock circuit, although their songs were quirkier and more pop-oriented than many of their peers. By 1976, the band…had also signed a contract with Miles Copeland's burgeoning BTM record label and management company. Squeeze had already recorded several tracks for RCA, including two cuts with Muff Winwood, that the label rejected. BTM went bankrupt before it could release the band’s debut single, Take Me I’m Yours, in early 1977 but Squeeze was able to work with John Cale on their debut EP, due to a contract Copeland had arranged with Cale.” STE
”Squeeze released their debut EP, Packet of Three, on Deptford Fun City Records, in the summer of 1977 and soon aranged an international contract with A&M Records, becoming the label’s first New Wave act since their disasterous signing of the Sex Pistols. The band entered the studio with producer Cale later that year to work on their debut album, provisionally titled Gay Guys by the group’s producer. Cale had the group throw out most of their standard material, forcing them to write new material; consequently, the record wasn’t necessarily a good reprsentation of the band’s early sound. By the time the album was released in the spring of 1978, the group and A&M had abandoned the record’s working title, and it was released as Squeeze. In America, the band and album had to change their name to UK Squeeze, in order to avoid confusion with an American band called Tight Squeeze; by the end of the year, they had reverted back to Squeeze in the US. Preceded by the hit single ‘Take Me I’m Yours,’ the album became a moderate success.” STE
British Breakthrough & U.S. College Radio (1979-80):
”The group’s true British breakthrough arrived in 1979, when they released their second album, Cool for Cats. More reprsentative of the band’s sound than its debut, Cool for Cats generated two number two singles in its title track and Up the Junction… Squeeze tried for a seasonal hit that year with Christmas Day, but the single failed to chart. Kakoulli was fired from the band after the release of Cool for Cats and was replaced by John Bentley.” STE
”Released in the spring of 1980, Argybargy received the strongest reviews of any Squeeze album to date, and produced moderate UK hits with Another Nail in My Heart and Pulling Mussells (From the Shell). Both songs, plus If I Didn’t Love You, became hits on college radio and New Wave clubs in America, increasing the band’s profile considerably; it was the first Squeeze album to chart in America, reaching number 71.” STE
Paul Carrack & The End? (1980-82):
”Jools Holland, whose fascination with boogie-woogie piano was beginning to sit uncomfortably with Difford and Tilbrook’s increasingly sophisticated compositions, left the band in late 1980…he was replaced by Paul Carrack…Following Argybargy, critics in both the UK and US were calling Difford and Tillbrook ‘the new Lennon and McCartney,’ and in order to consolidate their growing reputation, Squeeze made an attempt at their own Sgt. Pepper with 1981’s East Side Story…Upon its summer release, [it] was hailed with excellent reviews.” STE Despite being “perhaps Squeeze’s most successful album,” NM “it didn’t become a huge hit as expected…The soulful, Carrack-sung Tempted failed to reach the UK Top 40, but it did become the group’s first charting US single, reaching the Top 50. The country-tinged Labelled with Love became the group’s third, and last, British Top 10 hit that fall. Carrack left at the end of 1981.” STE
”Ever since the release of their debut, Squeeze had been touring and recording without break, and signs of weariness were evident on Sweets from a Stranger. Though it was the group’s highest-charting US album, reaching number 32 shortly after its spring release, [it] was uneven. In the UK, it was a considerable disappointment, reaching number 37, with its single Black Coffee in Bed stalling at number 51.” STE
”Difford and Tilbrook decided to disband Squeeze late in 1982, releasing the compilation Singles – 45’s and Under, shortly after its announcement. Ironically, Singles peaked at number three on the British charts; it would later go platinum in the US.” STE
Difford & Tilbrook – and a Reunion (1983-86):
”Difford and Tilbrook had no intention of ending their collaboration — they simply wanted to pursue other projects. In particular, they saw themselves as songwriters in the classic tradition of Tin Pan Alley or the Brill Building, and began writing for Helen Shapiro, Paul Young, Billy Bremner and Jools Holland. They also worked on Labelled with Love, a musical based on their songs, which played briefly in Deptford, England early in 1983. The duo released an eponymous album in the summer of 1984, showcasing a sophisticated new sound, as well as long, flowing haircuts and coats. The record was a moderate success, but the duo already were thinking of re-forming Squeeze.” STE
“Early in 1985, the band reunited to play a charity gig, which prompted Difford, Tilbrook, Holland, and Lavis (who had been driving a cab) to…re-form, adding bassist Keith Wilkinson. Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti was released in the fall of 1985 to positive reviews and moderately successful sales.” STE
U.S. Pop Success (1987-88):
“Babylon and On followed in the fall of 1987, and the album became a surprise hit, reaching number 14 in the UK generating their biggest American hits – Hourglass, which reached number 15 on the strength of MTV’s heavy rotation of the song’s inventive video, and the Top 40 853-5937.” STE
Back to Shoulda-Been-More-Popular Status (1989-99):
“Squeeze’s renewed success wasn’t long-lasting. The group’s next album, Frank, was released in the fall of 1989 and it wasn’t given much a promotional push by A&M. Consequently, it flopped in both the US and the UK,” STE although If It’s Love was a top 10 modern rock hit in the U.S. “During the supporting tour…A&M dropped Squeeze, leaving the band in the cold. Following the tour, Holland left the band” STE for a second time.
“in 1991, the band signed with Reprise Records…The resulting album, Play, was released in the fall of 1991 to little attention, partially because it received no support from the label.” STE It did land one song, Satisfied, at #3 on the U.S. modern rock charts.
“Squeeze resigned with A&M Records in early 1993 and recorded their new album, Some Fantastic Place, with…Paul Carrack [returning] on keyboards…The album became a moderate British hit, debuting at number 26; it was ignored in the US” STE although the Carrack-led Loving You Tonight was one of the most pop savvy songs they’d ever done and Everything in the World was a top ten modern rock hit in the U.S.
Squeeze’s 1995 album “Ridiculous became a moderate hit, generating the hits This Summer and Electric Trains.” STE The band’s last hurrah was with “Domino, in November of 1998.” STE Difford and Tilbrook were the only members left from any of the previous incarnations of Squeeze; then “Chris Difford effectively broke up the band in 1999 with his announcement that he was taking a hiatus from working with Tilbrook.” NM
Solo Years (2000-10):
Over the next decade, Difford and Tilbrook each released solo efforts. Difford released three albums of new material (2003’s I Didn’t Get Where I Am, 2008’s The Last Temptation of Chris, and 2010’s Cashmere if You Can) and an album of re-recorded Squeeze songs. Tilbrook released two albums of new material on his own (2001’s The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook and 2004’s Transatlantic Ping Pong), a third with his band The Fluffers (2009’s Pandemonium Ensues, and a series of archival Squeeze recordings. They reunited the band for a tour in 2007 and announced plans to record together again in 2009 with the intent of releasing an album in 2010.