Squeeze were “Cool For Cats”, “Labelled With Love” and “Up The Junction”. But where are they now?
British band Squeeze have been part of the furniture for over forty years now. Formed by Glenn Tilbrook (b.1957), Chris Difford (b.1954), Harri Kakoulli, Paul Gunn and a certain Mr. Jools Holland (b.1958) in London in 1974 and with many different line ups, the band have ploughed their way through the late 70’s, 1980’s and into the 21st century, still as popular as ever and able to play to their devoted fans and even record and release music still! Initally the group called themselves Captain Trundlow’s Sky Company but eventually took themselves a little bit more seriously with the name Squeeze. Having toured for a year, Gunn left the band and was released by Gilson Lavis (b.1951) and it was this lineup that recorded and released their debut EP, “Packet Of Three”, in 1976.
Although the label they were initially signed to went bust soon after, they were picked up by A&M off the back of “Packet Of Three” and began recording their debut album soon after. The first single, “Take Me I’m Yours”, was released in February 1978 and made the UK top twenty (No.19) with their self-titled album coming the following month, although this was not a commercial success. Two further singles were released but these failed to make the top 40. For the band’s second release, they adopted a more cheeky style and this would prove to be a winner with the first single, “Cool For Cats”, released in March 1979 and peaking at No.2 in the UK, the same position the follow up, “Up The Junction”, achieved in May that year. The album, taking the title of the former, charted moderately, a common theme for the band as single sales and chart positions would be kinder.
The 70’s would close with “Slap And Tickle” (No.24) and “Christmas Day” before Squeeze, always writing and recording, opened the 1980’s with “Another Nail In My Heart” (UK No.17), the precursor to their third album, “Argybargy”. The album performed better than “Cool For Cats”, reaching No.32 and also made an appearance in the US at No.71, despite the fact none of the singles had been commercially successful there, although “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)” received airplay on US radio. Jools Holland left the band in 1981 to pursue ‘other avenues’ while a new line up released the album “East Side Story”, charting higher still at No.19 in the UK and No.44 in America, thanks to the hit singles “Labelled With Love” (UK No.4) and “Tempted”, which climbed to No.8 on the US singles chart. Five years in a fifth studio album followed in 1982 with “Sweets From A Stranger”, the most notable single being “Black Coffee In Bed”, which performed better in America than it did back home.
“Black Coffee In Bed” went to No.26 in The States while the album, “Sweets From A Stranger”, reached No.32. 1982 also saw the release of “Annie Get Your Gun” (UK No.43, US No.40) which was a new track recorded for their first greatest hits album, “Singles – 45’s And Under”, which would earn Squeeze their first Platinum disc in the UK. having played live and undergone a line up change, Squeeze came back in 1985 with their first album of fresh material for three years. “Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti” featured “Last Time Forever” and the US hit single, “Hits Of The Year” (No.39) with Jool’s brother, Christopher now with band as their main keyboardist and piano player. Squeeze grew to a six piece line up during the mid-80’s and extended to their next release, “Babylon And On”, which would open with the single “Hourglass” and gave Squeeze their first top twenty hit in the UK since “Labelled With Love”, six years earlier.
“Hourglass” also performed well in America where is peaked at No.22, while the album would become the highest charting for the band so far (No.14). A further US charting single was achieved with “853-5937” in early 1988 while Squeeze, once more renewed with incoming and outgoing musicians, recorded and released the album “Frank” in 1989, although this was not a hit. Perhaps the band’s appeal had been surpassed by more manufactured music of the late 80’s and early 90’s as their next release, “Play”, in 1991, also struggled to find an audience, despite one last US charting single, “Satisfied”. An update on the greatest hit album in 1992 brought a second Platinum disc to the wall. Quick as a flash, 1993 saw new material with the album, “Some Fantastic Place”, which brought the band back to the UK singles chart with the lead track, “Third Rail” (No.39) with the album becoming their best performing since “Babylon And On”. This part of the 90’s saw kindness towards the band as their back catalogue began to be reassessed and their 1995 album, “Ridiculous”, yielding three UK top 40 hit singles!
Although “Ridiculous” itself was surprisingly not a high achiever in the charts, it was even more surprising the album was not more popular in America, particularly when the single “Heaven Knows” was featured in the Jonny Lee Miller/Angelina Jolie film, ‘Hackers’, in 1995, bringing the music of Squeeze to a whole new generation. The song charted at No.27 in the UK, the highest of all five singles to come from the album. Squeeze served up one more new album of the 1990’s with “Domino” in 1998 before achieving a hattrick of top ten charting hits albums with “Big Squeeze: The Very Best of Squeeze” in 2002. The band generally disbanded at this point although Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford continued to perform and record as well as pursuing solo career. Tilbrook and Difford reformed the band along with bassist John Bentley, who had not played with them since 1985, along with three new members and began touring and playing music festivals, much to the delight of their fans.
2010 saw Squeeze for the 21st century release a brand new album, “Spot The Difference”. This was followed by “Cradle To The Grave” in 2015, which debuted at No.12 in the UK, their highest ever chart position on the album chart! Their 2017 release, “The Knowledge”, also found favour, peaking at No.25, while a new best of album (“Essential Squeeze”) peaked in the same place later that year. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford now play with five other supporting member, including Stephen Large and Simon Hanson, who joined the reformed band in 2007, and toured America and Australia throughout 2019. Following Covid restrictions, Squeeze resumed touring in 2021, now with over 45 years of material to draw from and, it seems, new cats following them as each new year goes by!
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