Monday, January 09, 2006
Number 36: Squeeze
This Summer (A&M 5811912)
Chart debut: 9 September 1995
Writers: Christopher Henry Difford/Glenn Tilbrook
I reserve the right to make blatantly sentimental choices throughout this blog, and this just about qualifies as one of our many wedding songs. However, it wouldn't be here if I didn't think it deserved the recommendation, and for extra points it's not always remembered in the classic cannon of Squeeze singles, because it came so late in their career. At this point the lineup featured founders and songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook with Keith Wilkinson on bass and the late Kevin Wilkinson (no relation) on drums.
At this time the record company attempted to promote them as "Godfathers of Britpop" which the band understandably didn't seem too happy about, although ironically enough Difford's lyric tips its hat to one of the bigger acts of the time: "the summer that began to blur/Has put us on the calendar". And just to underline the point, there's a live acoustic version of 'End Of A Century' (one of only three covers they ever released) on my copy of the cassette single. Maybe while they were at it the record company should have tried releasing a single that refers to "This Summer" in the future tense at a more opportune time than late August (a remixed version did appear just over 11 months later and reach 32). At least the slightly late release date gave them time to film a cheery video (at time of writing you can see a clip here) in Eastbourne, with a cameo from no less than John Thomson.
But what about the record, you ask? It's a record I'd be tempted to call chirpy if I didn't know that some people would be permanently put off by that, although those people should be warned about some of the other tracks I've got coming. Certainly it's optimistic, and Squeeze's ability to convey happiness without lapsing into faux-bouncy cliche is one reason why I consider them a national treasure. Apart from the Blur gag, Difford's lyric is full of the joys of new love withjust the merest trace of naughtiness ("Nights we spent out of control/Like two flags wrapped around a pole"). Look out for the solo doubled on high and low guitars which perhaps unintentionally echoes the Difford/Tilbrook vocal interplay that marked many of their early hits.
Modest though it is, the chart position of this release was Squeeze's best showing since 1987 and served as a decent curtain-raiser for their last classic album, Ridiculous even if the openly middle-aged lyrical content failed to guarantee massive sales and the money they did make was swallowed up by a tax bill. The Difford/Tilbrook partnership staggered through a final ill-advised album before calling it a day. This remains an important part of their legacy.
Official websites: www.squeezefan.com; www.glenntilbrook.com; www.chrisdifford.com.
Where to get it: Everyone who loves British pop should have a Squeeze singles collection, though, and The Big Squeeze is an excellent career summary, including the cream of the overlooked Nineties output and a bonus disc features the rather fine B-side of this single, 'Periscope'. It's also available with a DVD anthology of their videos up to 1989, and appears to have been released in mainland Europe as Squeeze Gold.
If you don't fancy that, though, there's no shortage of other collections - since I wrote the original post we've seen the release of The Squeeze Story and Essential Squeeze but perhaps more excitingly, the original Ridiculous album is back in print for the first time is years and with bonus tracks too.